West Virginia’s House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment against all four justices on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals, accusing them of a range of crimes and throwing the court’s immediate future into disarray, A fifth seat on the court is vacant.
West Virginia’s House Judiciary Committee has adopted articles of impeachment against all four justices on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals, accusing the judges of a range of crimes and throwing the court’s immediate future into disarray, NPR reports. The articles of impeachment recommend that the entire bench — Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Allen Loughry, Justice Robin Davis, and Justice Elizabeth Walker – be impeached “for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes and misdemeanors.” West Virginia has five Supreme Court justices, who are elected to 12-year terms. The bench was reduced to four in July, when Justice Menis Ketchum resigned just as impeachment proceedings were set to begin.
Many of the articles aim at Loughry — whom a federal grand jury indicted on a number of serious charges that include fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators. The investigation centered on Loughry’s use of official vehicles, the expensive renovation of his Supreme Court office — and moving of a historic “Cass Gilbert” desk from a Capitol building to his home office. The 14 newly adopted articles accuse all the justices of overspending to remodel their offices and of failing to properly execute their administrative duties. “This is truly a sad day for West Virginia, but it is an important step forward if we are going to restore the public’s confidence in the judiciary,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, a Republican. The full House is slated to vote on the impeachment articles next Monday; if approved, they would then move to the Senate. “It’s a coup,” said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a Democrat who is the judiciary committee’s minority chair. She sees the timing as a ploy to allow Gov. Jim Justice — a former Democrat, now a Republican — to appoint the majority of the justices.