Reports of corruption, lavish overspending, and abuses of authority on the part of West Virginia’s four sitting Supreme Court justices have dominated area headlines in recent months — and state lawmakers have finally decided to do something about it.
All four of West Virginia’s Supreme Court justices were impeached by a vote in the state House of Delegates on Monday.
Overstepping their bounds
According to The Hill, all four justices were impeached for abusing their authority. Two of them were also impeached for overspending taxpayer money on office renovations, and one was also impeached for using state-owned equipment and vehicles for personal activities.
Justice Allen Loughry was impeached on eight separate counts that included spending more than $363,000 on office renovations, as well as for transferring a $42,000 antique desk and state-owned computers to his home. He was also charged with using state-owned vehicles for personal use and for lying to members of the House Finance Committee about the issues.
Aside from being impeached from the court, Loughry faces other trouble in the form of a federal indictment on multiple felony counts that include mail and wire fraud, lying to federal investigators, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, among others, according to NBC News.
Justice Robin Davis was impeached for her abuse of authority and for spending more than $500,000 on office renovations.
Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Beth Workman were let off the hook for the cost of their own office renovations — $111,000 and $131,000, respectively — but were nevertheless impeached for abuse of authority.
At issue for Workman was her signing off on allowing senior status judges to receive higher wages than were allowed by state law.
A former justice who would have been the fifth sitting justice — and likely would have been impeached along with the others — was Menis Ketchum, who resigned from the bench in disgrace in July and has since pleaded guilty to one count of federal wire fraud.
The impeachment process will now move to the state Senate for a trial with Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell specially sworn in to serve as chief justice temporarily. The trial should begin in September, though a clear timeline for the procedure has yet to be set.
Should the four justices ultimately be found guilty and removed from office by the state Senate, West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice will be allowed to appoint justices to replace them who would serve until at least 2020, at which point new elections would be held. Had the justices been impeached prior to August 14, their seats would have been placed on this year’s ballot.
These four state supreme court justices are all alleged to have abused the authority vested in them and wasted taxpayer money on frivolous and personal expenses — and evidently, corruption like that simply won’t be tolerated in West Virginia.