The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee has approved fourteen articles of impeachment against the four remaining members of the state supreme court. Eight articles are directed toward Allen Loughry, four each against Margaret Workman and Robin Davis, and two against Beth Walker. In some cases, more than one justice is the subject of a charge.
Menis Ketchum, who resigned from the court at the end of July, was not included in the articles of impeachment.
Loughry’s alleged fraud on taxpayers is now well-documented and is the subject of a federal proceeding. The articles against the other justices suggest a widespread culture of lavish spending and corruption. As the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports:
Each justice is charged with “unnecessary and lavish” spending of state taxpayer dollars to renovate their offices in the East Wing of the Capitol. All four of them also are charged with failing to develop and maintain court policies regarding the use of state resources, including cars, computers and funds in general.
Loughry faces additional charges related to his alleged use of state vehicles for personal travel, having state furniture and computers in his home, having personal photos, documents, photos and artwork framed on the state’s dime, and handing down an administrative order authorizing payments of senior status judges in excess of what is allowable in state law.
Davis and Workman are charged with signing documents authorizing that senior status judges be paid in excess of what’s allowable in state law.
One article against Walker, charging her with using state money to pay an outside attorney to author an opinion in 2017, was rejected by the committee in a 14-9 vote. The outside attorney in that matter was Barbara Allen, currently the interim Supreme Court administrator, who wasn’t employed with the court at the time she wrote the opinion, said Marsha Kauffman, attorney for the Judiciary Committee.
The committee also rejected an article against Workman that charged her with facilitating the hiring of a contracted employee to do IT work for the court as a political favor.
The articles of impeachment will now advance to the full House.
One may ask what would happen if all four remaining justices are impeached and removed. Candidates are already lining up for a special election this November for Ketchum’s spot. But unless a justice is impeached before August 14, no more special elections can be called for this year. Instead, as this article suggests, it appears that Governor Jim Justice would appoint replacement justices for all vacancies on the court, and those justices would serve until the 2020 election.