Cupid’s Bow and a Judge’s Gavel Don’t Mix
West Virginia Judge Tries to Frame Ex-Lover’s Husband
A state judge in West Virginia has been arrested and charged for trying to frame his formal romantic rival. An indictment against Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was unsealed this week, accusing him of trying to frame his ex-mistress’ husband for both drug crimes and theft, and then working to trick the state police and a grand jury into filing criminal charges against the husband.
Thornsbury began having a romantic relationship with his court secretary in 2008, and after pleading with her to leave her husband, the secretary eventually broke off her relationship with him. The indictment alleges that after the breakup, Thornsbury began targeting his former lover’s husband, attempting to frame him for a variety of crimes with the goal of causing a rift in the husband and wife’s marriage, driving the ex-lover back into Thornsbury’s chambers… so the speak.
Thornsbury tried first to have an anonymous associate plant illegal drugs on the husband’s car. When this failed, Thornsbury convinced a state trooper to file a criminal complaint against the husband, claiming he stole materials from a local coal company, which we’re pretty sure is punishable by death in West Virginia. Thornsbury then applied pressure on the local prosecutor and the grand jury to secure an indictment, but this ultimately failed.
The indictment, filed in federal court, accuses Thornsbury of violating the husband’s right to be free from wrongful arrest and from being deprived of his liberty without due process of law. Since his arrest, Thornsbury has been released on $10,000 bail. Amazingly, Thornsbury is still the judge in the Mingo Circuit Court, with the West Virginia Supreme Court still contemplating whether to suspend him.
This is not Mingo County’s first run-in with nationwide intrigue, as the county known for being the home of the Hatfields during theHatfield and McCoy feud across the border with Pike County, Kentucky. The county also earned the name “Bloody Mingo” for violent clashes between labor unions and management in local coalfields in the 1920s. More recently, the county has seen its sheriff go to prison for trying to sell his office, and a grand juror sent to the clink for giving out insider information on upcoming indictments.
Here at the Poppe Law Firm, we are always entertained by a good drama or captivating love story. But when the rule of law, a man’s due process rights, and just plain common decency are at issue, we would rather just go without all the entertaining drama in the world. Courtrooms should be places where wrongs are righted, not where wrongs are made.