Constitutional amendment on WV Supreme Court spending introduced

    An Eyewitness News investigation shows this $32,000 couch is among the expenditures of the West Virginia Supreme Court. (WCHS/WVAH)<p>{/p}

    A proposed constitutional amendment to put the budget of the West Virginia Supreme Court under the control of the Legislature – a move that follows a series of stories by Eyewitness News about questionable spending – was introduced Friday by lawmakers.

    The resolution -- the Judicial Budget Oversight Amendment -- was mentioned just briefly and then Senate President Mitch Carmichael said it would be referred to the Judiciary Committee and then on to the Finance Committee. A similar measure was introduced Monday. Live coverage of the Senate floor session was provided by West Virginia Public Television.

    The proposed constitutional amendment follows Eyewitness News reports by Investigative Reporter Kennie Bass of the court spending more than $3.7 million to renovate and redecorate justices' Capitol offices. Chief Justice Allen Loughry also was reported to have furnished his home office with furniture from the court. Eyewitness News has documented, including in an exclusive investigative story that revealed the purchase of a $32,000 couch, some of the Supreme Court's spending.

    Below is video from the first story in a series of Eyewitness News reports.

    Here are the other stories that took a look at the court’s spending and purchasing practices.

    Supreme Court Spending Part 2

    Supreme Court Spending Part 3

    Supreme Court Spending Part 4

    Supreme Court Spending Part 5

    Spending by the Supreme Court has prompted state auditors to notify the legislative Post-Audits Committee that they plan to audit the Supreme Court this year. A Kanawha County lawmaker, Del. Mike Pushkin, on Thursday called for an investigation of Allen Loughry, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, to see if impeachment proceedings are warranted.

    On Friday, Loughry, appeared before the House Finance Committee Friday morning to ask for $139 million for the court's budget.

    The chief justice addressed extravagant spending by the court, saying it was indefensible.

    Loughry said the reports on the court's remodeling -- a job that ballooned from $850,000 to $3.7 million -- are misleading, however, because the scope of the job grew. He also blamed former court administrator Steve Canterbury, who has pointed the finger at Loughry. The state Supreme Court also sent out a news release saying the court would be good stewards of the judicial budget and was working at finding savings.

    The AP contributed to this story.

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