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Current, former justices to appear before the Senate

August 24, 2018

Pictured are, from left, first row, Justice Robin Davis, Justice Allen Loughry, Chief Justice Margaret Workman. Second row, from left, Justice Menis Ketchum and Justice Beth Walker.

Current and former West Virginia Supreme Court justices will answer articles of impeachment against them next month in the West Virginia Senate.

The three justices and one former justice were served their summonses, articles of impeachment and rules of procedure for their trials Tuesday, according to an email from Jacque Bland, director of communications for the Senate.

Former Justice Robin Davis, Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Beth Walker and suspended Justice Allen Loughry are to appear before the Senate at 10 a.m. Sept. 11.

At that time, the Senate will convene and sit at the court of impeachment, Bland said.

Five case managers from the House of Delegates on Monday reported to the Senate that the House passed 11 articles of impeachment against Workman, Walker, Loughry and Davis, formally setting in motion a trial in the Senate.

Under the rules passed in the Senate on Monday, each individual will have their own trial. Beyond the initial appearances set for Sept. 11, no trial dates or pre-trial conferences have been scheduled.

The trial and related hearings will be set at the discretion of Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell Sr., whom Workman last month appointed to preside over any impeachment trials.

“It is possible that the trial dates for (the current and former justices) will be set by the presiding officer during the pretrial phase,” Bland said in the email to media Tuesday. “Until the trial dates are set, we won’t know more about our schedule.”

When the Senate reconvenes on Sept. 11, Farrell will administer oaths to the senators, who will serve as jurors in the impeachment trial.

Under the rules of the Senate, if any of the current or former justices pleads guilty to the articles of impeachment against them, then the Senate will vote immediately on whether to convict them of the articles against them. If they plead not guilty, the trials will take place.

The House approved the articles of impeachment during a 17-hour long session on Aug. 13.

In the articles of impeachment, the justices are charged with maladministration, corruption, incompetence, neglect of duty and certain high crimes, all impeachable offenses under the West Virginia Constitution.

Loughry has the most articles of impeachment against him, with seven charges.

Davis is subject of four of the articles, and Workman is the subject of three. Walker is the subject of one article.

All four individuals are charged with maladministration by failing to establish and maintain policies to prevent the abuse and misuse of state resources and of misusing the resources themselves.

Loughry and Davis each are charged with “unnecessary and lavish spending” related to the renovations of their offices in the Capitol. The House did not charge Walker and Workman with articles of impeachment related to spending on renovations in their offices.

Loughry additionally is charged with having a historic, state-owned Cass Gilbert desk in his home and using a state vehicle for personal travel.

Loughry, Davis and Workman are charged with facilitating the means for some senior status judges in the state to be paid in excess of what’s allowed in state law, in potential violation of criminal fraud laws in the state.

Davis resigned from the court on Aug. 14, but she remains a named party in the articles of impeachment.

Under the Senate’s rules for the trials, any senator can move to have any of the current or former justices’ names removed from the articles. If a majority of the Senate, 18 senators, approve the motion, then that person’s name would be removed from the articles and they no longer would be subject to the trial.

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