Today in the Legislature

Tuesday, August 07, 2018 - 06:58 PM

Judiciary Adopts 14 Articles of Impeachment Against W.Va. Supreme Court Justices

The House Judiciary Committee adopted 14 articles of impeachment against West Virginia Supreme Court justices and rejected two articles.

The committee convened its eighth day of impeachment hearings Tuesday, where it presented 14 original Articles of Impeachment. The committee later voted to add another two more articles against suspended Justice Allen Loughry.

Former Justice Menis Ketchum was not part of impeachment proceedings because he retired. Ketchum was charged in a federal information. Loughry faces a 23-count indictment. 

Articles of Impeachment now head to the full House, which is scheduled to meet 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13.

Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday are: 

Article 1: Accusing Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Robin Davis of signing and approving contracts to overpay certain senior status judges. This was adopted 17-7.

Article 2: Accusing Workman, Loughry, Davis, and Justice Beth Walker of lavish spending, including remodeling state offices, large increases in travel budgets. Some of these expenditures include unaccountable personal use of state vehicles, for unneeded computers for home use, regular lunches from restaurants, and framing of personal items. This article also accuses justices of failing to provide supervisory oversight of the court’s operations

Article 3: Accusing Loughry of taking home a Cass Gilbert desk, valued at around $42,000

Article 4: Accusing Loughry of taking home state computers for personal use 

Article 5: Accusing Loughry of personal use of state vehicles, including using the vehicle and state-issued fuel purchase card to travel to The Greenbrier for book signings and sales

Article 6: Accusing Loughry of drafting an administrative order authorizing the court to overpay certain senior status judges. This was adopted 18-6.

Article 7: Accusing Loughry of lavish spending on office renovations, totaling about $363,000, including the purchase of a $32,000 couch and $33,000 floor. This was adopted in a 21-3 vote.

Article 8: Accusing Walker of lavish spending on office renovations totaling about $131,000, including $27,000 in office furnishings and wallpaper. This was adopted 16-8.

Article 10: Accusing Davis of lavish spending on renovation costs totaling about $500,000, including a $20,000 rug, $8,000 chair and $23,000 in design services. This was adopted 19-4.

Article 11: Accusing Davis of signing forms overpaying certain senior status judges. This was adopted in a voice vote.

Article 12: Accusing Workman of lavish spending in renovating her office, totaling about $111,000, and including the purchase of wide-plank cherry floors.

Article 14: Accusing Workman of signing forms to overpay senior status judges. This was adopted in a voice vote.

Article 15: Accusing Justice Loughry of deceiving the House Finance Committee while under oath

Article 16: Accusing Justice Loughry of wasteful spending by using state funds to frame personal items

Two Articles of Impeachment were rejected. These were:

Article 9: Accusing Walker of using state funds to hire outside counsel to author a legal opinion. This was rejected 9-14.

Article 13: Accusing Workman of hiring and retaining employees, contracting services, some of which constituted an apparent repayment of political favors. This was rejected 10-13. 

Monday, August 06, 2018 - 05:42 PM

Judiciary Committee hears from Supreme Court chief financial officer

The House Judiciary Committee reconvened impeachment proceedings Monday, starting the day with a tour of the state Supreme Court chambers and offices.

Following the tour, committee members heard from Sue Racer-Troy, who serves as chief financial officer at the state Supreme Court.

Racer-Troy detailed the structure of the court, saying justices were at the top with the court administrator below them and the division directors below the administrator.

Racer-Troy said there were no written policies regarding expenditures. She said Chief Justice Margaret Workman requested former administrative director Steve Canterbury to develop written policies for P-card usage. Racer-Troy said Canterbury told her not to worry about creating this written policy.

Racer-Troy also testified that she went to Canterbury to discuss former Justice Menis Ketchum’s use of a state car for commuting purposes.  She said she had a parking space near Ketchum and saw a state car parked in his space. She testified when she told Canterbury about this, he told her to stay out of it and that it was none of her business.

Racer-Troy said she has continued to ask for details to get the true cost of renovations of the court. She said she still doesn’t know the full cost of these renovations. Racer-Troy said she got the impression that justices didn’t know how much renovations cost. She mentioned Justice Robin Davis, in particular, saying Davis seemed surprised to learn that a sofa, chairs and other furnishings were bought with state money rather than her own personal funds.

Racer-Troy said the work environment changed dramatically in 2017 after suspended Justice Allen Loughry took over as chief justice. She said there were many firings and restructuring. She said in the administrative department, there were about 20 positions that were either eliminated or consolidated.

“It created a lot of feelings of uncertainty,” Racer-Troy said. “People didn’t know how certain their jobs were.”

In the afternoon, Committee Counsel Brian Casto went over issues with senior status judges. Casto said senior status judges can’t make more than a sitting judge when adding in per diem payments and retirement. However, he said senior status judges were paid in excess of these amounts.

The committee then adjourned into executive session.

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