CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Mingo County judge Michael Thornsbury says a lawsuit against him should be thrown out because a process server delivered the lawsuit to a house where Thornsbury no longer lives, and gave the lawsuit to Thornsbury's wife, who is divorcing him.
Robert Woodruff, the husband of Thornsbury's former secretary, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court last month against Thornsbury and others, alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.
Thornsbury was indicted in August on a charge of violating Woodruff's constitutional rights by trying to put him in jail on trumped-up charges. Prosecutors claim Thornsbury wanted Robert Woodruff out of the picture so that Thornsbury's former secretary, Kim Woodruff, would be forced to be with the judge for financial reasons.
To put Robert Woodruff in jail, prosecutors allege, Thornsbury put his business partner, Jarrod Fletcher, in charge of a Mingo County grand jury, tried to persuade a close friend, Jeff Cline, to plant drugs in Woodruff's truck and had West Virginia State Police Trooper Brandon Moore and Gilbert Police Officer Nathan Glanden wrongfully arrest Woodruff.
That charge could be dismissed if a federal judge accepts Thornsbury's guilty plea to another charge on Jan. 13.
Thornsbury, who had served as Mingo County's only circuit court judge since 1997, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to deprive drug dealer George White of his constitutional rights as part of a scheme to thwart a federal investigation into the county's sheriff.
Thornsbury's response to Robert Woodruff's lawsuit, filed Friday, asks U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver to dismiss the case.
The ex-judge says that on Oct. 5, process server Benjamin Cisco tried to serve Thornsbury with the lawsuit at his former residence in Williamson. Thornsbury was not there, so the summons and complaint were left with his wife, Dreama Thornsbury.
The filing by Thornsbury's attorney, Philip Sword, states that Cisco left the complaint in Dreama Thornsbury's mailbox, after he tried to hand her the paperwork and tell her "you have been served," and she closed the door on him.
Dreama Thornsbury filed for divorce on Sept. 12, according to an employee in the Mingo Circuit Clerk's Office.
"Michael Thornsbury moved out of that address on October 3, 2013, two days prior to the time service was made," the filing states. "Therefore, Mr. Thornsbury has yet to be served . . . he has not visited or slept at the residence, nor has he kept any of his personal belongings at the location since on or before October 3, 2013."