Restore respect, trust to court
The shock of the year — thus far — for West Virginians came Tuesday, when members of the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee discussed impeaching the entire state Supreme Court. All four justices are accused of abusing the public’s trust (former Justice Menis Ketchum already has resigned).
What will happen next is anyone’s guess. But the fact remains that Justices Allen Loughry, Robin Davis, Beth Walker and Margaret Workman have been accused of behavior that, to say the least, is very questionable.
It seems virtually certain Loughry will be impeached by the House. That would lead to a trial in the state Senate and possibly, to his removal from the court.
Whether he keeps the job from which he already has been suspended may be the least of Loughry’s worries. He also faces 23 federal criminal charges.
Clearly, Loughry is in a special category.
But the fact at least some members of the Judiciary Committee believe Davis, Walker and Workman misused their positions is disturbing in the extreme.
Various accusations have been made against individual justices. They include waste of taxpayer’s money in more than $1.5 million worth of remodeling in the court’s offices; improperly having taxpayers pay for “working lunches;” and paying senior status circuit judges called back to temporary duty more than the law permits.
All sorts of explanations have been offered. Among them is that the justices sometimes were not aware of how much was being spent to remodel their offices and buy new furniture.
How all this will be resolved is anyone’s guess. Politics already has intruded into the process.
Regardless of that, however, it has become apparent to many West Virginians that the state’s highest court has been dysfunctional for some time.
Sorting it all out will not be easy. It will not be pleasant for anyone involved.
Concerns about the court simply have to be resolved, however. West Virginia’s highest court must enjoy the trust and respect of the people. For now, at least, none of the justices can claim to have that.