In the end, the vote wasn’t even close. Only one state senator voted to remove Justice Beth Walker from office. She faced one count for maladministration.
“I’m very relieved. I am very grateful to the Senators. They obviously carefully deliberated… I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting back to the very important work of the court; deciding cases fairly and impartially and according to the rule of law,” said Justice Beth Walker, West Virginia Supreme Court.
It’s a case where the high court members were accused of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on lavish office renovations and catered lunches. Four of the Justices wound up being impeached, and two retired. Despite repaying the state for her portion of the catered lunches, House managers argued, Justice Walker should be removed from office.
“Question number one: has the public lost trust in the Supreme Court? I would suggest to you, if you are asking me, based on what I’m hearing from my constituents, what I am reading in the paper – that’s an easy answer,” said Del. John Shott, Chairman, (R) Mercer – Judiciary Committee.
Walker had been on the court less than one year, and many lawmakers believed that far more senior justices were more responsible for the court’s excessive spending.
“I just felt like the standard of impeachment was not sustained by the evidence. And I think the Senate did a great job in studying the evidence,” said State Sen. Mike Woelfel, (D) Cabell.
“The was no evidence presented in my opinion, that justified removal from office,” said State Sen. Ryan Ferns, (R) Ohio – Majority Leader.
Justice Walker and her husband embraced after her acquittal. But Senate Republicans are already drafting a public censure or reprimand in her name, as a punishment.
Even though Justice Walker can resume her work on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Allen Loughry still face impeachment trials and could be removed from office.