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Lawmaker requests special session

September 16, 2018

CHARLESTON — After West Virginia senators refused to dismiss articles of impeachment against former state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis, a Democratic leader in the House of Delegates is calling for lawmakers to impeach former Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum.

In a letter sent to Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday afternoon, House Minority Whip Mike Caputo, D-Marion, asked Justice to call the Legislature special session to consider articles of impeachment against Ketchum.

Caputo wrote that Ketchum’s guilty plea “most certainly rises to the level of an impeachable offense.”

“As such, the Legislature has a duty to ensure that former Justice Ketchum no longer profits at the expense of the taxpayer — especially in the form of his retirement,” Caputo wrote.

House spokesman Jared Hunt said Ketchum’s guilty plea to a charge of wire fraud in federal court already prohibits him from receiving retirement benefits or seeking public office in the future.

Caputo’s letter came two days after the Senate rejected a motion to dismiss three articles of impeachment against Davis.

Ketchum announced his resignation from the court on July 11, one day before the House Judiciary Committee began its impeachment investigation. His resignation was effective July 27.

Members of the House only considered evidence and pursued impeachment involving the four remaining justices — Margaret Workman, Beth Walker, Allen Loughry and Davis. Davis left the court effective Aug. 13.

“While the House of Delegates initially focused the impeachment proceedings on sitting justices only, it is clear from the actions in the Senate relating to (former) Justice Robin Davis that this idea no longer holds true,” Caputo said in the letter.

Democratic legislators have accused Republicans in the House and Senate of using the furor surrounding the Supreme Court to swing the court in their favor. Davis and Ketchum were both elected as Democrats; Justice has appointed longtime Republican officeholders Evan Jenkins and Tim Armstead to temporarily fill those seats.

The rules of procedure adopted by the House Judiciary Committee stated “because the sole remedy available in an impeachment proceeding is the removal from office of an officer of the State,” that any state official who resigned, retired or otherwise was removed from office wouldn’t be subject to impeachment because their removal from office “eliminates the need for further evidence specifically referring to that official.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump I V, R-Morgan, similarly stated that point when he made a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Davis while the Senate sat as a court of impeachment Tuesday.

But the Senate voted 19-15 to reject the motion, leaving the articles of impeachment against Davis intact.

“As such, the Legislature has a duty to ensure that former Justice Ketchum no longer profits at the expense of the taxpayer — especially in the form of his retirement.”

Mike Caputo

House Minority Whip

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