November 28, 2013
CHARLESTON (AP) — A Kanawha County judge has denied former Mingo County Circuit Court Michael Thornsbury’s petition to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by his former secretary.
Media outlets report that Circuit Court Judge Tod Kaufman ruled Tuesday that Thornsbury received proper notice of Kim Woodruff’s lawsuit.
Woodruff’s lawsuit alleges that Thornsbury sexually harassed her and wrongly fired her.
In October, Thornsbury pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to deprive a convicted drug dealer of his constitutional rights. Thornsbury resigned from the bench and will be sentenced in January.
Federal prosecutors accused Thornsbury of trying to repeatedly frame Robert Woodruff in an attempt to encourage Kim Woodruff to resume a romantic relationship with the then-judge. Kim Woodruff, a court employee at the time, broke off the relationship before Thornsbury’s alleged attempts to frame her husband, according to federal court documents.
In any legal case, defendants must officially be notified they are parties to a lawsuit-being filed. The formal name for that notification is “service of process.”
Kim Woodruff is suing Thornsbury in civil court regarding his alleged repeated attempts to frame her husband, Robert Woodruff. Thornsbury tried to frame Robert Woodruff after Kim Woodruff ended a romantic relationship, according to documents filed in federal court.
Attorneys for Kim Woodruff tried to serve Thornsbury in connection to this lawsuit. But he’s avoiding them, said Mike Callaghan, one of the attorneys representing the Woodruffs.
“Our process servers have chased him all over,” Callaghan said. The Woodruff’s lawyer said Thornsbury had tried to hide from those process servers.
A process server is someone who delivers the official notice that someone is part of a lawsuit.
A server went to a house where he believed Thornsbury lived. The ex-judge’s wife, Dreama Thornsbury, opened the door. She closed it before the server could give her the official notification, according to documents filed with the circuit court.
Instead, the server put the official notice in the mailbox, according to court documents.
Michael Thornsbury’s attorneys argued that should not count as “proper service” and the case should be dismissed, according to the West Virginia Record.
Using an affidavit from Dreama Thorsnbury, the attorneys argue Michael Thornsbury moved out of the home two days before the notice was left in the mailbox.