CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia legislative committee has heard 14 potential articles of impeachment against four state Supreme Court justices.
The articles were read Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee at the state Capitol in Charleston. The committee is holding a lengthy debate on a motion to adopt all 14 draft articles.
Suspended Justice Allen Loughry is mentioned in six of the articles. Loughry was indicted in federal court in June on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, lying to federal law enforcement, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Other articles of impeachment involve justices Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker.
Justice Menis Ketchum retired last month. Last week, prosecutors said Ketchum has agreed to plead guilty to one federal count of wire fraud stemming from the personal use of state-owned vehicles and fuel cards.
Some delegates said they felt blindsided by the proposal to impeach all sitting justices.
There was a somewhat heated exchange between West Virginia House Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio, 3) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott. Fluharty questioned why some lawmakers, including the committee's minority chair, were not aware of the proposal to impeach all of the justices ahead of time.
"I believe in your response to our press release last week you said you were blindsided by a press release," said Fluharty.
"True," Shott responded.
"Do you not believe that presenting articles of impeachment without telling minority members that you were going to do so is not blindsiding them?"
"There's nothing in those articles of impeachment that you haven't heard in this chamber."
"We are proposing something monumental," said Judiciary Committee Minority Chair Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia, 51). The delegate said she was aware the committee was ready to move forward with impeachment against Justice Loughry, but not the others.
Chairman Shott said there will be an amendment period after delegates are done asking questions about the proposed articles.
Other delegates claim that impeaching all the justices would result in Governor Jim Justice having unilateral control to determine the makeup of the state's highest court.
You can find the draft articles of impeachment in full here.