The Senate convened Tuesday morning for a pre-trial hearing on the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices, mostly over lavish spending on court office renovations that ran into the millions. Justice Paul Farrell was presiding and the senators were sworn-in as jurors.
However, a surprise proposal came to censure Chief Justice Margaret Workman, and Justice Beth Walker, instead of removing them from office.
“We have had discussions with Justice Workman, Justice Walker. Who are also included in Article 14, but we believe are less culpable. Not blameless as I indicated, but less culpable,” says Del. John Shott, (R) Mercer, Chairman House Judiciary Committee.
“She cares deeply about the court; about that third branch of government. And is acutely aware of the damage these events have done,” said Ben. Bailey, Attorney for Chief Justice Workman.
But that was a House resolution, and the Senate refused to even consider it, since members had not heard any evidence yet. While Justice Menis Ketchum retired in July, the other four current or retired Justices will now face a Senate trial.
“The Senators I talked to throughout this process, have made the decision to wait until evidence is presented. Because we are having to make a decision based purely on that evidence,” said State Sen. Ryan Ferns, (R) Ohio – Majority Leader.
“Basically we’re just going to be fair an impartial and listen to the evidence and see where the evidence goes. It’s really a simple process,” said State Sen. Mike Woefel, (D) Cabell.
The option of censuring Justices could still come back, but for now the answer is no.
“If the State Senate gets to an impeachment trial it will be the first one in West Virginia since 1875. That’s 143 years ago,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.