Live Blog: W.Va. House Takes Up Historic Impeachment Vote Against Remaining Supreme Court Justices

3 hours ago

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The House of Delegates is considering 14 articles of impeachment targeting the remaining four justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The chamber's Judiciary Committee recommended the articles last week after more than a month of hearing evidence and testimony regarding the Supreme Court's spending of state funds, the use of state resources for private gain and other misconduct. 

Justices Robin Davis, Allen Loughry, Beth Walker and Margaret Workman are named throughout the articles for their roles in lavish spending on court office renovations, the personal use of state vehicles, computers and furniture and the overpayment of other judges. 

Justice Menis Ketchum announced his resignation from the court just one day before impeachment proceedings began and, as a result, is not subject of the articles. The remainder of his term, which ends in 2020, will be filled by the winner of a special election held in November.

As for other potential vacancies on the bench, a deadline of Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 11:59 p.m. looms to trigger a special election and fill the remainder of a term. Otherwise, Republican Gov. Jim Justice would appoint a replacement or replacements. 

Should any of the articles be adopted by the House, the justice or justices named in those articles would be tried in the Senate -- with lawmakers from the upper chamber serving as jurors.

Updated: August 13, 2018 at 1:17 p.m.

After two hours of debating Artilce I of House Resolution 202, delegates have adopted the measure. The articles targets suspended Justice Allen Loughry for lavish spending on office renovations. The article was approved in a 64-33 vote.

Debate focused on a lack of definition for "maladministration," as well as issues of separation of powers between branches of state government.

The House has recessed until 2 p.m. -- when it will continue debate on the remaining articles. 

Updated: August 13, 2018 at 11:44 a.m.

After House Judiciary Chairman John Shott explained Article I as introduced, Del. Fast's amendment failed on a 5-91 vote. During debate, Fast called censureship -- in lieu of removal from office, if Loughry were to be convicted by the Senate -- a "statement of doom."

Fast pointed out that the legislative branch currently does not control the court's budget. This November, West Virginia voters will decide whether the legislative branch will take control of the Supreme Court's budget by way of a constitutional amendment. 

Updated: August 13, 2018 at 11:18 a.m.

Del. Tom Fast, R-Fayette, has introduced an amendment to Article I, which targets suspended Justice Allen Loughry for lavish spending on office renovations, including the purchase of a nearly $32,000 couch and $34,000 floor inlay. Loughry's spending on renovations total approximately $363,000. 

Fast explained the amendment as it pertains to spending on "excessive spending of state funds" on court office renovations. Fast says this would apply to the other justices named in articles of impeachment. But, if adopted, the House would recommend censorship -- rather than removal from office.

Updated: August 13, 2018 at 11:05 a.m.

The House has returned to order and has formally introduced House Resolution 202, which contains the articles of impeachment adopted last week by the House Juidicary Committee. Each article of impeachment will be debated, amended and approved separately. 

Updated: August 13, 2018 at 10:14 a.m.

The House of Delegates gaveled in and quickly decided to recess until 10:45 a.m. to review proposed amendments to the articles of impeachment.