West Virginia Supreme Court spending and property practices - Part 5
CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) —
Eyewitness News is continuing to look into the spending and property practices of the West Virginia Supreme Court.
This week, the court's chief justice has directed the moving of a couple of pieces of furniture from his home to a state warehouse.
West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen Loughry had a couple of items at his Charleston home, which he was using as part of an office to work on court business.
On Monday, we asked Loughry about a couch that had formerly been at the Supreme Court in the justice's chambers. Loughry moved that couch to his home after the court purchased a new piece of furniture, that now infamous $32,000 blue sectional.
Loughry said the couch at his home, where it’s been since 2013, wasn't state property. He said it was the property of former Justice Joe Albright. When he passed away in 2009, Albright's family didn't want it, Loughry said.
It stayed in those chambers until Loughry took it home, just hours after we sent him a message asking about it. Loughry used state workers and a state vehicle to move that couch. He said it's not an ethics violation because he gave it to the state.
On Thursday, he moved yet another piece of furniture.
Loughry also had a historic Cass Gilbert desk. Those desks were selected by Gilbert's architectural firm to be placed inside of the state Capitol, which Gilbert also designed.
The desk is similar to the one in Justice Menis Ketchum's chambers.
Eyewitness News asked the court if any other justices had state property at their homes. We were told they have laptop computers, a printer and Justice Margaret Workman uses an office chair.
No one else had a desk, let alone a historic and valuable piece of furniture. And no one else had a couch.
We have asked to take pictures of the desk and couch inside the state Supreme Court warehouse on Venable Avenue, but we have been denied. We have asked for an explanation why we are still waiting on that.
We do have a statement on the moving of the Cass Gilbert desk from the court's public information officer:
"It is entirely appropriate for Supreme Court justices to have desks and computers for home offices due to their heavy caseload, and the amount of time they spend working at home. Justices do not work 9 to 5 jobs and frequently deal with emergency matters during the evening and also when court is not in session. Nevertheless, the desk has been taken to storage until it is needed in another Supreme Court office. The desk was not returned because its use was inappropriate, but because issues such as this are becoming an obstacle to the court completing its important work.”
We have talked with several people at the Capitol who have said it is highly unusual for a Cass Gilbert desk to be taken from the complex to a private home.