Supreme Court won’t intervene over West Virginia justices

Legal Events

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will leave in place a court decision that derailed the impeachment trials of three West Virginia Supreme Court justices accused of corruption.

The case was one of a long list of those the Supreme Court announced it wouldn’t hear, and as is usual the high court made no comment in declining to take the case. Monday was the Supreme Court’s first day of arguments after its summer break.

The case the high court declined to review was a decision by five acting justices of West Virginia’s highest court who ruled last year that prosecuting then-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman in the state Senate would violate the state constitution’s separation of powers clause.

That ruling in Workman’s case was later applied to also halt impeachment proceedings against two other justices who have since left the court: Robin Davis and Allen Loughry. Davis retired after the House approved impeachment charges against her. Loughry resigned after being convicted of felony fraud charges in federal court.

West Virginia House lawmakers had impeached the justices in 2018 over questions involving lavish office renovations that evolved into accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. But the acting justices’ ruling halted state Senate impeachment trials.

Workman remains on the court but is no longer chief justice. The current chief justice, Elizabeth Walker, was also impeached by the House, but was cleared at her Senate trial, which took place before the acting justices’ ruling in Workman’s case.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw had said previously that the hope in asking the Supreme Court to take the case was not to seek permission to restart impeachment proceedings but to correct legal errors in the decision.

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