The House of Delegates on Monday considered articles of impeachment not just on a single political figure but on each sitting member of the state Supreme Court.

The only justice who isn’t under consideration for impeachment is Menis Ketchum, spared because he submitted his resignation the day before the proceedings began.

The rest of the justices — Allen Loughry, Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker — are accused of crossing the line on a variety of items, including failure to hold each other accountable, signing off on skirting the law on payment of senior status judges and spending lavishly on office renovations.

Moment by moment, here’s what’s happening:

1:44 a.m. The House of Delegates is adjourning until it is called back into session (at some point) by the Speaker pro tem. Yay!

1:17 a.m. Now we are naming delegates to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate. This is actually Resolution 205.

1:10 a.m. Now under consideration: A resolution to censure of the justices. This would be in addition to the articles of impeachment.

Delegate Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, says this is a statement of the House irrespective of what the Senate does.

“We are making a statement as a House that we strongly disagree with the spending that occurred in the Supreme Court,” Sponaugle says.

This passes with only one no vote.

12:39 a.m. Still going!

Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, is introducing a new article meant to hold Justice Walker accountable for outsourcing an opinion to be written by outside counsel. That was a cost of $10,000.

“A Supreme Court justice outsourced their duty to an outside vendor,” Folk said. “If that’s not neglect of duty, what is?”

The House Judiciary Committee considered this as a possible article but voted it down.

Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, comments, “I think that is neglect of duty.”

Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette: “There probably was a sound reason why this was done on this particular case. We don’t have any evidence that it was done on any other case by Justice Walker.”

Fast adds, “I didn’t hear any evidence as to why this was an impeachable offense, other than that it happened.”

The new article sponsored by Delegate Folk is voted down, 26-70 with four absences.

12:19 a.m. Eleven articles of impeachment have passed involving all four remaining justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Why are we still here? There’s a new article to be introduced by Delegate Folk, holding Justice Walker accountable for outsourcing an opinion to private counsel. Delegates will also decide which delegates will present the articles for the Senate trial.

11:19 p.m. Still up for debate is Article 14. That article accuses all four remaining justices of failing to establish policies about remodeling state offices, travel budgets, computers for home use and framing of personal items.

Delegates voted overwhelmingly against an amendment that would have removed Justice Beth Walker from the article.

“The state of West Virginia has lost confidence in the court — the whole court,” says Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley.

Delegate Zatezalo, R-Hancock, says much of this has happened because of a lack of policies. “I think this article is important. I think this article is well-stated. We need to send this message.”

The article naming all the justices for their lack of oversight passes 51-44. Here is the roll call. 

10:25 p.m. We’re on Article 14, the last of the articles recommended by the House Judiciary Committee. It’s a maladministration article, saying the justices should have done more to hold each other accountable.

Judiciary Vice Chairman Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, explains the article. “What was or was not appropriate may have been a result of a lack of policy.”

That article accuses all four remaining justices of failing to establish policies about remodeling state offices, travel budgets, computers for home use and framing of personal items.

Hanshaw says this has come to be “the maladministration article.”

Delegate Gearheart, R-Mercer, proposes an amendment. It removes Justice Walker’s name from the resolution. “Justice Walker, during her tenure on the court, has not served as chief justice. She has not been the lead person on budgetary or administration issues on the court.”

Delegate Sponaugle, D-Hardy, disagrees: “I object to this motion because this is a statement that as a body the court failed to put oversight into effect.”

Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, says he supports Gearheart’s amendment that would withdraw Justice Walker from Article 14. “I think it would be prudent to remove her from Article 14.”

Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, says ethics connects the criteria for impeachment in the state Constitution. “Condoning and tolerating lying, cheating and stealing can be as ethically wrong as lying, cheating and stealing.”

Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, says this is a “blatant attempt to carve out conservative justice. Come on guys, you’re not even trying to hide it any more.”

The amendment that would remove Justice Walker from Article 14, meant to hold the entire court accountable for each other, is rejected 12-83.

10:11 p.m. Delegates voted 44 ayes, 51 nays against an article that would have impeached Justice Beth Walker over her office renovation.

Chairman John Shott then asked to withdraw an article about Workman’s spending, saying it is even less than Walker’s was.

Shott makes motion to withdraw the article about Justice Workman’s spending on her office. 56 ayes, 39 nays, five absences. So the article is withdrawn.

9:25 p.m. We’re up and rolling again.

Article 12 is up next. This is about Justice Walker’s office renovation. (Article 13 is the same issue with Justice Workman.)

“This is one where the context is important,” Shott says, alluding to a renovation by previous office occupant Brent Benjamin a few years prior.

“The question is whether the additional spending by Justice Walker was necessary, or whether it amounted to excessive spending of state funds.”

Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, says where to draw the line on spending that merits impeachment bothers him. He says he can’t get there with the spending by justices Walker and Workman.

Majority Leader Cowles, R-Morgan, agrees: “I rise to oppose this article of impeachment.”

He says, “The spending in this article is comparatively somewhat reasonable. It is a fraction of the spending in the Davis impeachment article. And it is a fraction, perhaps a third, of the spending in the Loughry article.”

The office had been remodeled just a few years ago for previous officeholder Brent Benjamin.

“We can’t hold Justice Walker responsible for the remodeling costs of former Justice Benjamin,” Cowles says.

Cowles alludes to a possible move to censure Walker for the spending. “I think our action should fall short of impeachment for this article and this justice.”

Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley says there’s not a significant difference between Walker’s spending and the rest.

“She walked into that court and she was infected with the same disease everyone else there has.” Fok says. “They think they’re better than everyone out there with a blue collar job.”

He says there’s no reason to hold back on impeachment of Walker.

“Guess what it’s a 10-year term,” he says. “God forbid a justice of the Supreme Court might be held accountable besides in an election year.”

8:39 p.m. Delegates are gathering again. We have articles 12, 13 and 14 to go.

I’m told the debate is over whether the votes on the articles stand as individual votes — or whether they have to be re-bundled with a vote on the whole package at the end.

7:19 p.m. We’re recessing until 8:15 p.m. Reporters will be typing semi-frantically.

7:17 p.m. On Article 11, vice chairman Roger Hanshaw asks that the article be withdrawn. No explanation is given.

Article 11 had to do with use of public funds for the framing of private memorabilia. It was added late in the process in House Judiciary.

7 p.m. Article 10 is being presented by Delegate Andrew Byrd, D-Kanawha. It accuses Justice Loughry of lying while under oath before the House Finance Committee earlier this year.

Delegate Fast holds up a diagram of how Justice Loughry’s office was supposed to look and says there are some questions that need to be answered.

Fast says, “This diagram sounds like it’s the smoking gun but if you read it, it says ‘Hey I’m open to suggestions.'”

Fast: “I’m going to have to vote no on this article.” “I don’t know that he lied under oath or had the intent to deceive.”

Vote on Article 10: 94-2 with four absences. Delegate Tom Fast and Delegate Saira Blair were the two no votes.

6:53 p.m. Delegate Fast, R-Fayette, is presenting Article 9, which deals with Justice Loughry’s use of state-issued computer equipment at his home.

Article 9 does, indeed, pass 96-0 with four absences.

6:52 p.m. Next up is Article 8, which deals with Justice Loughry’s use of state vehicles for personal use. Judiciary Vice Chairman Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, is explaining.

This one passes 96-0 with four absences.

6:50 p.m. Programming update

6:34 p.m. Article 7 is again on the issue of payment of senior status judges. This one focuses on Justice Loughry and an administrative order he wrote.

Chairman Shott is saying there’s some gray area here — essentially whether the administrative order had the force of law. He urges adoption of the article.

Delegate Fast, R-Fayette, says he opposes Article 7 on the question of whether an administrative order has the power of law. “The courts speak through their orders.”

Fast says, “”I’ve already voted to impeach him on other articles. I don’t think this article deserves impeachment.”

There’s no closing argument on this one. We move on to a vote.

51 aye, 45 no. That one passes quite narrowly.

6:31 p.m. Article 6, again, is very similar — this time focusing on Justice Workman’s oversight of the payments of senior status judges.

This one is adopted, 63-34.

6:25 p.m. Article 5, next up, is a very similar article focusing specifically on Justice Davis. It’s intentionally redundant to Article 5 and was intended to be considered in an instance that Article 4 might not pass.

In fact, it’s so similar to the previous article that it passes quickly, 61-35.

6:18 p.m. Here’s the vote on Article 4. It was 62-34 with four members absent.

That was the first approved article of impeachment to involve Chief Justice Workman. So justices Loughry, Davis and Workman now officially face articles of impeachment passed by the House.

3:45 p.m. We’re moving to Article 4. House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, says if there are people who have been reluctant to vote because no law has been broken “this may be the article for you.”

Article 4 and a few more of the articles deal with accusations that justices signed off on skirting the law regarding a cap on payments to senior status circuit judges.

Shott: “The court circumvented a law, which we passed, that allowed individuals to be paid more than they were entitled to receive.”

Shott adds, “Is the test of whether you should violate a law whether you’ve got a good reason?”

Delegate Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall, says he voted in favor of this article in Judiciary, but he has read it more closely and now is opposed.

Canestraro, who is a county prosecutor, says justices Workman and Davis didn’t benefit. “Clearly the only people who got paid in this scheme are senior status judges.”

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, also argues against adopting this article, saying the application of the law isn’t black and white. “I do not think this is clearly illegal.”

Fleischauer adds, “I disagree that this is a valid article of impeachment. I think it’s confusing  and I don’t think we should be impeaching people over something that’s confusing.”

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Hardy, says the Legislature overreached its powers on capping what senior status judges can make: “If we’re going to impeach, we at least need to come up with something that’s against the Constitution — not in support of the Constitution.”

Here’s the wording of Article 4:

That the said Chief Justice Margaret Workman, and Justice Robin Davis, being at all times relevant Justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, and at various relevant times individually each Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia unmindful of the duties of their high offices, and contrary to the oaths taken by them to support the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and faithfully discharge the duties of their offices as such Justices, while in the exercise of the functions of the office of Justices, in violation of their oaths of office, then and there, with regard to the discharge of the duties of their offices, commencing in or about 2012, did knowingly and intentionally act, and each subsequently oversee in their capacity as Chief Justice, and did in that capacity as Chief Justice severally sign and approve the contracts necessary to facilitate, at each such relevant time, to overpay certain Senior Status Judges in violation of the statutory limited maximum salary for such Judges, which overpayment is a violation of the provisions of W.Va. Code §51-2-13 and W.Va. Code §51-9-10, and, in violation of an Administrative Order of the Supreme Court of Appeals, in potential violation of the provisions of W.Va. Code §61-3-22, relating to the crime of falsification of accounts with intent to enable or assist any person to obtain money to which he was not entitled, and in potential violation of the provisions of W.Va. Code §5-10-45, relating to the crime of fraud against the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System, and, in potential violation of the provisions set forth in W.Va. Code §61-3-24, relating to the crime of obtaining money, property and services by false pretenses, and,all of the above are in violation of the provisions of Canon I and Canon II of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct.

3:32 p.m. Delegate Andrew Byrd, D-Kanawha, one of the managers of the impeachment process is describing Article 3, which has to do with Justice Loughry taking home an antique Cass Gilbert desk.

That the said Justice Allen Loughry, being a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, unmindful of the duties of his high office, and contrary to the oaths taken by him to support the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and faithfully discharge the duties of his office as such Justice, while in the exercise of the functions of the office of Justice, in violation of his oath of office, then and there, with regard to the discharge of the duties of his office, did on or about June 20, 2013, cause a certain desk, of a type colloquially known as a “Cass Gilbert” desk, to be transported from the State Capitol to his home, and did maintain possession of such desk in his home, where it remained throughout his term as Justice for approximately four and one-half years, in violation of the provisions of W.Va. Code §29-1-7 (b), prohibiting the removal of original furnishings of the state capitol from the premises; further, the expenditure of state funds to transport the desk to his home, and refusal to return the desk to the state, constitute the use of state resources and property for personal gain in violation of the provisions of W.Va. Code §6B-2-5, the provisions of the West Virginia State Ethics Act, and constitute a violation of the provisions of Canon I of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct.

On Article 3, there was very little discussion and Byrd opts not to even make a closing argument.

It’s 97-0 with three absences in favor of adopting this article.

3:25 p.m. Here’s the vote on Article 2,  which deals with Justice Robin Davis’s office renovations.

Delegates voted 56-41 in favor of impeachment of Justice Davis over the renovations, which amounted to $500,000.



00605 (Text)

2:12 p.m. We’re now discussing Article 2, which deals with Justice Robin Davis’s office renovations. The total of those renovations was $500,000.

That the said Justice Robin Davis, being a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, unmindful of the duties of her high office, and contrary to the oaths taken by her to support the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and faithfully discharge the duties of her office as such Justice, while in the exercise of the functions of the office of Justice, in violation of her oath of office, then and there, with regard to the discharge of the duties of her office, did waste state funds with little or no concern for the costs to be borne by the tax payer for unnecessary and lavish spending in the renovation and remodeling of her personal office, to the sum of approximately $500,000, which sum included, but is not limited to, the purchase of an oval rug that cost approximately $20,500, a desk chair that cost approximately $8,000 and over $23,000 in design services, and other such wasteful expenditure not necessary for the administration of justice and the execution of the duties of the Court, which represents a waste of state funds.

Perry Bennett/West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates tour the office of Justice Robin Davis during impeachment proceedings before the House Judiciary Committee.

House Judiciary Chairman John Shott says the office, when toured, reminded him of a Star Trek set.

“It was clearly out of step with the style of this building.”

He says it was designed to Justice Davis’s taste and will probably have to be renovated again for whoever occupies it next.

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Hardy, says you can draw a distinction with what Justice Loughry did versus the others. He says what the House is considering is a “Kill ’em all and let God sort it out” position.

“We’re going down a bad road, folks,” Sponaugle says. “We’re going to have to start impeaching board of public works members to be consistent.”

Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, says he voted against Article 1 and will vote against this one. He says the justices, constitutionally in charge of their branch’s spending, did not violate the Constitution. “The Constitution is important to me.”

2:08 p.m. We’re gaveling back in for the afternoon.

Here is the roll call on Article 1, which dealt with Justice Loughry’s office renovation expenditures:



00604 (Text)

1:18 p.m. 64 ayes, 33 nays — Article 1 is adopted. That means Justice Loughry is impeached on at least one article.

Breaking for lunch, which I would vote in favor of doing if I had a vote. Returning at 2.

Just 13 more articles ahead.

1:02 p.m. Delegates are continuing debate of Article 1, which has to do with Justice Allen Loughry’s spending on office renovation.

The debate on this issue has lasted about an hour and a half. In all, we’ve been in session for three hours.

Democrats are arguing that the state Constitution gives the Supreme Court power over its own spending (with a constitutional amendment pending before state voters in a little less than 90 days). They are also arguing that the line on maladministration isn’t clear.

Furthermore the Democrats contend removing each of the justices from office because of their spending represents a constitutional overreach by the Legislature — and that it would be further complicated by the governor naming four new members of the court.

Republicans are countering that the spending by justices was out of control and that their constituents expect action.

11:49 a.m. Back on Article 1, which has to do with Justice Allen Loughry’s spending on office renovation, including the infamous $32,000 couch.

Delegate Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell, describes where he thinks the impeachment line should be drawn: “I’ve settled on a line I learned a long time ago, and that’s lying, cheating and stealing.”

Lovejoy says Loughry’s purchases “do not reflect the humility of a servant.” But he says the poor judgment doesn’t meet the standard necessary to invalidate an election.

Lovejoy contends what the Legislature is considering is unprecedented: “When we go in and eliminate 4 of them based on inappropriate spending, make no mistake we are eliminating a separate branch of government.”

He adds, “We may be violating the separation of powers clause.”

Delegate Patrick McGeehan, R-Hancock, questions Lovejoy: “You mentioned lying, cheating and stealing. What about others who condone lying, cheating and stealing?”

McGeehan then adds, “Is it not the position of the legal community that the Supreme Court should be above reproach, like Caesar’s wife?”

11:47 a.m. Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, is asking where Speaker Tim Armstead is. Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, has been serving as Speaker pro-tem. Armstead was here when we gaveled into session shortly after 10. “Has he been excused from voting?” Pushkin asks.

11:20 a.m. House Judiciary Chairman John Shott begins with some introductory remarks and then begins to explain Article 1.

Shott says, “This is a sad day. There’s no cause for anyone to celebrate. But it is our duty. I think the public demands it.”

He adds, “We’re basically plowing new ground. Justices have never been impeached before.”

And Shott goes on to say, “Part of our problem is there’s a variance of degrees of responsibility of each of the justices.”

He also notes that the state Constitution allows for the impeachment of public officials on several grounds but doesn’t define them.

Any officer of the state may be impeached for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor.

“Where we end up is, there’s a great deal of subjectivity to this process,” Shott says.

Shott acknowledges that there has been debate over what is the threshold for spending to be considered for impeachment. He says you have to consider the context of the spending, much of which was up against the backdrop of severe fiscal challenges.

Article 1 has to do with Justice Loughry’s spending on renovations to his office. Shott notes that controversy over this kicked off this whole mess.

Here is Article 1:

That the said Justice Allen Loughry, being a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, unmindful of the duties of his high office, and contrary to the oaths taken by him to support the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and faithfully discharge the duties of his office as such Justice, while in the exercise of the functions of the office of Justice, in violation of his oath of office, then and there, with regard to the discharge of the duties of his office, did waste state funds with little or no concern for the costs to be borne by the tax payer for unnecessary and lavish spending in the renovation and remodeling of his personal office, to the sum of approximately $363,000, which sum included the purchase of a $31,924 couch, a $33,750 floor with medallion, and other such wasteful expenditure not necessary for the administration of justice and the execution of the duties of the Court, which represents a waste of state funds.

Shott reminds us that Article 1 passed the House Judiciary Committee 21-3.

11:07 a.m. We’re diving right in now. The 14 articles will be considered individually. We’re starting with Article 1.

Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, offers an amendment to Article 1, saying the recommendation of the House would be a censure, as opposed to removal from office, as a result of a Senate trial.


Fast’s amendment is voted down overwhelmingly. 

HR202 HFA FAST 1 (Text)

10:50 a.m. Getting ready to start for real. The articles of impeachment that passed out of the House Judiciary Committee will be converted into an originating House Resolution (HR 202) that will be introduced here shortly.

Here is a copy:



HR202 Org (Text)

10:15 a.m. We got started, and we’ve already hit the pause button.

Meanwhile, you get to vote…

9:55 a.m. The state Chamber of Commerce made a well-timed splash this morning with a statement expressing concern about the impeachment of justices Walker, Workman and Davis.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce put out this statement this morning.

Here’s the full statement from the Chamber:

I am writing to each of you personally this morning to express my grave concerns about the impending House impeachment proceedings.    The gravity of the impeachment question weighs heavily with our Chamber members, many of whom are contacting us to express their serious concerns about the consequences of a mass judicial impeachment. Stability and predictability are so fundamentally important to employers that we cannot emphasize enough the jeopardy that an uncertain judiciary creates.  The decision you have before you is unprecedented in our state’s history, and I therefore want to share with you the views and concerns being expressed by the employers with whom I have spoken.

Many members of the West Virginia Chamber have expressed their serious concerns that the allegations contained in the Articles of Impeachment against Justices Davis, Workman and Walker appear to be subjective.  The impeachment of an elected official must be considered only as a last resort, and only upon meeting the highest Constitutional standards.    Articles of Impeachment which are based upon subjective and undefined terms such as “unnecessary” or “lavish” may prove to be problematic when the Supreme Court does, in fact, currently retain Constitutional authority over its own budget and spending.  Our members are also noting other instances of spending in recent years by both the Legislature and the Governor which others may find to be equally “unnecessary”.    The administrative approval of payments for senior status judges by numerous Chief Justices over many years may also have implications regarding the Constitutional mandate to maintain open access for all citizens to our court system.

At this point, criminal charges have been filed only against Justice Loughry and former Justice Ketchum.   The wholesale impeachment of the entire Supreme Court at this time has surprised many of our Chamber members as unexpected.   The proposed Articles of Impeachment against Justices Davis, Workman and Walker have the potential to set an unwelcome precedent in our state.   The mass impeachment of our state’s entire Supreme Court could create chaos in our judicial system.  I am terribly troubled by the unanticipated consequences which could flow from this action.   On behalf of our member employers who employ over one-half of our state’s workforce, I ask that you seriously reconsider the proposed Articles of Impeachment against Justices Davis, Workman and Walker.

West Virginia has made significant progress in improving our economy, and we hope to continue building upon the platform that so many of you are helping to create and maintain.  We must not jeopardize these hard fought gains.   Thank you for your service and I ask that each of you carefully weigh our concerns, as well as the best interests of the state, as you consider the impeachment matters before you today.

9:26 a.m. Delegates are starting to gather in the House of Delegates chamber. Here are the 14 impeachment articles they will be weighing today.



9:03 a.m. All eyes of the regular West Virginia Statehouse reporters will be on today’s proceedings.

The historic event is expected to draw attention from national media outlets as well.

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