In a perfect world, justice is always going to be served, even to those who who make and enforce the laws. You can be sure that the world right now feels anything but perfect to the Supreme Court of West Virginia. There are currently 14 articles of impeachment that have been filed against the entire WV Supreme Court of Appeals. This includes all four of the sitting justices. The only reason the fifth justice was not included in this was because he retired a month ago before the start of impeachment.
According to reports, they are being impeached because of a massive misappropriation of taxpayer funds. They were not utilizing their resources properly and have been accused of spending that was unnecessary and considered to be lavish. Some examples of the misuse of the taxpayers’ money include the authorization of salaries that were not in line with the state restrictions, use of state resources for computers, cars, and to frame personal items, such as photos and artwork. They also spent $3.7 million to decorate and renovate their offices.
The unjust use of money from these justices was, naturally, surprising. They are supposed to be people who will uphold the law. However, the Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justices – Beth Walker, Robin Davis, and Allen Loughry – were doing anything but upholding the law when it came to their own indiscretions. They have been charged with “maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty” and more. Ironically, Justice Loughry wrote a book in 2006 that was about political corruption in West Virginia.
In Loughry’s own office, he had added $1,700 in throw pillows to go along with a $32,000 sofa. All of this was paid for by the taxpayer’s money. He tried to get out of trouble by saying that it was the former administrative director who made the purchases, but that director made it clear that the purchases were Loughry’s decision. The total amount of renovations for his office was $363,000. He’s also facing mail fraud, wire fraud, and a host of other charges, which could carry lengthy and expensive penalties – up to 395 years in prison, a fine of $5.5 million, and supervised release.
Even though the justice who retired, Menis Ketchum, may not be fully embroiled in the impeachment, that certainly does not mean that he has not gotten in trouble. He has pled guilty to wire fraud from improper use of a vehicle that belongs to the state.
What Will Happen to the Justices?
The West Virginia Senate recently gave the go ahead to the rules for the impeachment trials. They will go through with the impeachment process, but it is still unknown exactly what is going to happen during the trials, or who is going to be taking the place of these justices that are going to be ousted from office.
It just goes to show that even those who are supposed to have your best interests in mind can still be swayed by money and greed.