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Disciplinary Counsel accepts Michael Thornsbury’s resignation of law license

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CHARLESTON, WV -

As part of former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury's plea with the federal government, he has agreed to give up his law license.

As a result, the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel has accepted his "affidavit for consent to disbarment," and the charges against him from the Judicial Disciplinary Procedure have been dropped.

Thornsbury received his law degree in 1980 from the University of Kentucky. He became licensed to practice law in West Virginia in September 1980.

He has been Circuit Judge since 1997, and his status with the West Virginia State Bar was converted to inactive when he became judge, but he is still subject to the rules of professional conduct.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals administrative director filed a complaint against Thornsbury Aug. 15, the same day a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Thornsbury charging him with two felony counts of conspiring to violate a person's civil rights. The indictment alleged Thornsbury engaged in several schemes to try to frame the husband of his secretary, with whom he had a fleeting romantic relationship.

The Judicial Disciplinary Counsel filed her report with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, addressing the allegations against Thornsbury in the original complaint, and requested his license to practice law be suspended during the proceedings because his acts called into question the integrity of the legal profession when viewed in light of one of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Thornsbury was included in a federal information in mid-September, alleging he helped convince a local man who made election signs, George White, to stop communicating with federal investigators about the illegal pills the late Sheriff Eugene Crum purchased from him and also election law violations Crum had committed.

The Judicial Investigation Commission filed an Amended Formal Statement of Charges to reflect the addition of the charges in the information.

Thornsbury entered into a plea agreement with the government and also agreed to resign as judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit, to never seek public office and to agree to his disbarment. The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia agreed, in return, to dismiss the two-count indictment in the first indictment.

Thornsbury turned in his letter of resignation as judge Oct. 2.

"Respondent has already sustained the ultimate penalty of his actions and can never again pose a threat to the public by virtue of judicial office," the report reads.