Other Mingo Co., WV attorneys had suspicions - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Other Mingo Co., WV attorneys had suspicions about indicted judge

Posted: Updated:
The cases presented before Judge Michael Thornsbury could be reviewed. The cases presented before Judge Michael Thornsbury could be reviewed.
WILLIAMSON, West Virginia -

David Bryant admits he's been in trouble with the law.

He said he's appeared in Mingo County Circuit Court at least five times on grand larceny and conspiracy charges.

Bryant, of Dingess, went before Judge Michael Thornsbury, who was indicted on federal charges last week.

(Read more about the charges filed against Thornsbury here.)

In light of a federal investigation, Bryant said he wants his cases reviewed.

"What happened here, with all this up here, it would only be fair to have them re-heard," Bryant said.

The state supreme court suspended Thornsbury and his law license last Thursday, after the county's only circuit judge was accused of trying to frame his ex-lover's husband.

Many people in Mingo County say the recent indictment could put previous and future cases in a different light.

Della Cline-Gentile is a private attorney in Williamson. She said she waited to file several civil suits while Thornsbury presided over the court.

"I was just trying to wait until hopefully we had a fair judge," Cline-Gentile said. "I didn't feel like I would get a fair shake and I certainly didn't feel like my clients would get a fair shake."

Cline-Gentile worked for Thornsbury for two years after she graduated law school. In 1992, Thornsbury worked at a private firm.

"Possibly power changed him," Cline-Gentile said. "That man and the man that they arrested last week had very few similarities, they didn't seem to be the same person."

Cline-Gentile now runs a private firm in Williamson. She said Thornsbury's suspension could spark more private attorneys to file more cases.

"I've held onto them for a while and now I feel like I can file them."

Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said he supports the federal investigation into Thornsbury.

In 2009, Thornsbury appointed 911 Services and Homeland Security Director Jarrod Fletcher as foreman of the grand jury.

According to the indictment, Thornsbury tried using the grand jury to frame his romantic rival.

Sparks said he never knew Thornsbury and Fletcher were business partners.

The prosecutor said he presented approximately 100 cases to the grand jury when Fletcher was foreman.

"Virtually all, if not all" of these cases resulted in a guilty plea, according to Sparks. He said he does support a review of these cases.

He also explained why he did not report his suspicions about the allegations.

"I had no proof," Sparks said. "There was rumors, and you just go on a gut feeling that you don't want to be a part of this. But as far as reporting this to the disciplinary council or the judicial ethics commission, I didn't have any proof."

Senior Judge John Cummings of Cabell County will hear cases during Thornsbury's suspension. The state Supreme Court also asked retired justice Thomas McHugh to assist.

According to the Associated Press, West Virginia State Bar President Harry Deitzler says the fact that the foreman was also a public officeholder and barred by law from holding the post guarantees that lawyers are considering challenges.

The state Supreme Court will have to decide if any are valid.