House Judiciary Committee Adopts Articles of Impeachment Against Entire W.Va. Supreme Court

Aug 7, 2018

This is a developing story and will be updated. Please refresh this page for the latest. Updated: August 7, 2018 at 6:15 p.m.

 

The House Judiciary Committee has adopted articles of impeachment against the entire bench of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The articles were introduced Tuesday morning after more than a month of testimony and presentation of evidence.

Justices Robin Davis, Allen Loughry, Beth Walker and Margaret Workman are all named in the proposed articles of impeachment for their roles in high-dollar spending on court renovations and/or using state resources -- including vehicles, furniture and computers -- for private gain. The committee originially introduced 14 articles -- but added others during Tuesday's proceedings.

Each of the articles spell out charges of "maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty and certain high crimes and misdemeanors" -- as are noted in the state constitution as impeachable offenses. In summary, they are as follows:

  1. Workman and Davis' authorization of overpayment of Senior Status Judges. 
  2. Workman, Louoghry, Davis and Walker's failure to carry out administrative duties. 
  3. Loughry's possession of the "Cass Gilbert" desk in his private home.
  4. Loughry's use of state computers for personal use at his home. 
  5. Loughry's private use of state vehicles.
  6. Loughry's authorization of overpayment of Senior Status Judges.
  7. Loughry's lavish spending on renovations to his court office.
  8. Walker's lavish spending on renovations to her court office.
  9. Walker's spending on outside counsel to craft a legal opinion of the court.
  10. Davis' lavish spending on renovations to her court office. 
  11. Davis' authorization of overpayment of Senior Status Judges. 
  12. Workman's lavish spending on renovations to her court office.
  13. Workman's hiring of court contractors who had previously worked on her campaign.
  14. Workman's authorization of overpayment of Senior Status Judges. 
  15. Loughry's lying under oath to the House Finance Committee.
  16. Loughry's framing of personal photographs with state dollars.

As committee members reconvened Tuesday afternoon, they adopted proposed articles of impeachment. Committee members adopted 14 of 16 proposed articles — with the last two added by the committee as a result of amendments and other discussion -- and rejected Articles 9 and 13. 

Former Justice Menis Ketchum, a Democrat, was not the subject of impeachment hearings or the articles the committee introduced. He announced his retirement July 11, 2018, just one day before impeachment proceedings began. His retirement was effective July 27.

 

Loughry, who has been suspended without pay, has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of federal charges, including fraud, witness tampering, making false statements and obstruction. Ketchum has agreed to plead guilty to one count of fraud and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The articles of impeachment come on the eighth day of hearings for the committee. Delegates are debating the articles one-by-one and -- if approved -- will head to the entire House for consideration. Fifty-one votes are needed to approve an article of impeachment.

If adopted by the House, a trial or trials would take place in the Senate, with 23 of the 34 senators needed to convict and remove a justice from office.

 

Last week, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee introduced eighth articles of impeachment -- specifically against Loughry, a Republican. At the time, Chairman John Shott said he was "disappointed"

 

Filling vacancies on the bench would be dictated by Chapter 3, Section 10 of West Virginia State Code, which states that if a vacancy comes on or before 84 days before a general election, a special election would take place in that general election -- if more than two years remain on that seat’s term. A candidate filing period is now open for filling the remainder of Ketchum’s seat, which expires at the end of 2020.