Allen Loughry discusses time on bench, family life - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Allen Loughry discusses time on bench, family life

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Allen Loughry relaxing with his wife, Kelly, and son Justus. Allen Loughry relaxing with his wife, Kelly, and son Justus.
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Five months in and nearly 600 issued opinions later, one thing is certain — West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry loves his job. 

"People will always ask me if I like my job and I'll say, ‘No, I love my job.' It very much is what I thought it was, and I look forward to serving in this position for the next 12 years," he said.

The Tucker County native was elected last year to a 12-year term on the bench, taking over the seat of retired Justice Thomas McHugh. 

Loughry has served in many positions, including senior assistant attorney general in the West Virginia Attorney General's Office as special prosecuting attorney to handle criminal cases throughout West Virginia. He also worked as a lawyer for the Supreme Court starting in 2003. 

"After working at the Supreme Court for the past 10 years, it was a seamless transition to the position of justice," he said. "All five of us get along incredibly well, and there is a high level of congeniality and respect for each other." 

Although Loughry is the newest justice on the bench, he says he has not had to fight off a reputation as "the new guy."

"I haven't seen that at all. … The five of us go into conferences and we're prepared to discuss hundreds of cases and in many ways, it feels like I've been in this position for 10 years." 

Besides his fellow justices, Loughry said he likes the day-to-day work, which can take him into a different area of law with each case. 

"I enjoy the challenge, but I also feel like you can have at least a small positive impact on your state at the end of the day by doing your job. That makes me feel good," he said. 

He also enjoys working behind the scenes.  

"There are some cases that you find yourself spending even more time on or those cases dealing with abuse and neglect of children," he said. "It doesn't matter whether your name is on the opinion or it's a per curiam opinion issued by the court. It makes you feel good working behind the scenes — working to make sure the correct result occurs." 

And working at the state's highest court is not a 9-5 job. 

"You can easily spend 12-plus hours a day. There's no question about that," Loughry said. "I don't look at it as work, though. I recognize how important it is and just do the best job that I can. 

"People don't realize that prior to a case being argued before the court, most of us have discussed those cases several times and we all spend an enormous amount of time researching these cases and trying to come up with a sound legal result."

Away from the court, Loughry spends time with his wife, Kelly, and their 6-year-old son, Justus. Justus, who insists he's the real justice of the family, played an important role in Loughry's campaign, starring in a few of his commercials. 

So, does Justus plan on becoming the second Justice Loughry in the family? 

"He told me that he's going to work for Lego, but if that fails, he says he will do what his dad does at the Capitol," Loughry said. 

He also spends a lot of his time speaking about the court to groups, particularly high school students, across the state. 

 "I try to explain to them how cases go through the system and try to make it more real to them," he said. "A lot of them don't realize it, but everything that happens in this court affects people in one way or another. This is a separate, co-equal branch of government." 

For the future, Loughry says one of the most important things he wants to see for the court is to keep moving in a positive direction and for the court to have stability. 

"Stability can just mean that the court continues to release good opinions with sound legal reasoning," he said. "I also want to spend time making sure that the next generation of West Virginians knows more about the West Virginia Supreme Court."