W.Va. Senate rejects censure, reprimand deal, proceeds with impeachment process


    The West Virginia Senate and House managers convened Tuesday morning for impeachment pretrial hearings for the state Supreme Court. (West Virginia Public Broadcasting)

    UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) - The West Virginia Senate rejected deals Tuesday for state Supreme Court Justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker that called for censure and public reprimand and would have dropped impeachment articles against them.

    Senate President Mitch Carmichael agreed with Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, who made the point he did not believe it was proper for the Senate to consider the proposed resolution since the Senate had not considered any evidence in impeachment trials. Instead, the Senate decided to proceed with the impeachment process and set impeachment trial dates for Workman, Walker, suspended Justice Allen Loughry and former justice Robin Davis.

    "I question whether it's proper or not for the Senate to consider a resolution that presupposes any innocence or guilt with articles of impeachment pending without having heard any evidence," Ferns said.

    The turn of events follows an earlier proposed resolution Tuesday from House managers that would have dropped the impeachment articles against Walker and Workman in exchange for the public censure and reprimand. Under the proposed resolution that was rejected, Workman and Walker had agreed to accept responsibility for allegations outlined in Article 14 for indefensible spending, the absence of court policies and practices and accept full responsibility for renovations to their offices. The agreement also specified the justices would agree to a need for change in policies and to rebuild the public trust and prevent future expenditures.

    Judge Paul Farrell, who is acting as a justice in the case, set trial dates for Walker for Oct. 1, Workman for Oct. 15, former justice Robin Davis for Oct. 29 and Loughry for Nov. 12.

    Sen. Charles Trump, R- Morgan, moved to dismiss Articles of Impeachment against Davis, who has retired. The Senate voted 15-19 to reject the motion to dismiss the articles against former Justice Davis. Below is the roll call vote of the Senate's rejection of the motion:

    The judge ruled that the court of impeachment had recessed until 9 a.m. Oct. 1, when Walker's impeachment trial will begin.


    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) - West Virginia House managers said Tuesday they have reached an agreement with Justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker to a resolution for censure of the justices in exchange for articles of impeachment against them being dropped.

    The news was announced during pretrial hearings at the West Virginia Senate, where House Judiciary Chairman John Shott said that Workman and Walker had agreed to accept responsibility for allegations outlined in Article 14 for indefensible spending, the absence of court policies and practices and accept full responsibility for renovations to their offices. The agreement also specifies the justices agree to a need for change in policies and to rebuild the public trust and prevent future expenditures.

    Members of the Senate adjourned until 2:30 p.m. to consider the resolution. Live coverage can be viewed in the video player below:

    "We've reached an agreement which we think will address the goals that the House laid out when we undertook this process," Shott said. "Basically, those goals, as I indicated, accountability but a foundation to rebuild public trust."

    Coverage with video courtesy of West Virginia Public Broadcasting can be viewed in the video player embedded below.

    Senators heard the proposed resolution and had not taken action. The Senate agreed to adjourn until 2:30 p.m. to consider the proposed resolution.

    On Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed seven articles of impeachment against Justice Allen Loughry, four against former justice Robin Davis, three against Workman and one against Walker. Davis has since announced she has retired.

    A copy of the proposed resolution is below:

    After Shott made the announcement, Del. Andrew Byrd, D-Kanawha, read the proposed settlement.

    The attorney for Workman, Ben Bailey, said the resolution achieves the aims of the House. He said Workman’s No. 1 priority has been to restore public trust and employee morale.

    "We think this agreement is in the best interest of our client, both houses of the Legislature, indeed of all of state government and the citizens of West Virginia," Bailey said.

    Meanwhile, attorney Mike Hissam, who represents Walker, said the agreement is a fair one and should be adopted.


    Pretrial hearings in the historic impeachment proceedings for the state Supreme Court justices are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the West Virginia Senate.

    Live coverage with video courtesy of West Virginia Public Broadcasting is expected to begin about 10 a.m. and can be viewed in a video player that will be embedded below in this story.

    On Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed seven articles of impeachment against Justice Allen Loughry, four against former justice Robin Davis, three against Justice Margaret Workman and one against Justice Elizabeth Walker. Davis has since announced she has retired.

    The 11 various articles of impeachment passed by the House cover a range of grounds from wasteful spending, maladministration, incompetency to neglect of duty.

    Loughry is currently suspended from the bench and faces 25 federal charges that accuse him of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and making false statements to the FBI. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Five managers in the House will prosecute the impeachment trials: House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer; House Judiciary Vice-Chairman Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay; Del. Ray Hollen, R-Wirt; Del. Andrew Byrd, D-Kanawha; and Del. Rodney Miller, D-Boone.

    Paul Farrell, a Cabell County Circuit judge, has been appointed as a justice to preside over the proceedings.

    While the four justices have been impeached by a majority of the House of Delegates, the state Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the state Senate to remove any of the justices from office.

    A motion was filed with the Senate on behalf of Workman to have the impeachment proceedings no earlier than Oct. 15 to provide time to prepare for the complicated case. The motion is below.

    Meanwhile, a motion was prepared on behalf of Walker and filed with the Senate, requesting that the one count of impeachment proposed against her - that deals with the oversight and administration of the Supreme Court - be dismissed because it said the allegations against her focus on the court as a collective body and not her individually. A copy of the motion is below:

    The probe of the state Supreme Court followed a series of iTeam investigative stories, the first one in November 2017 that detailed questionable spending by the court, including a nearly $32,000 couch in Loughry's office.

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