Davis Claims Without Merit
In announcing her resignation from the West Virginia Supreme Court, Robin Davis used all the right buzzwords on Tuesday. She argued the rule of law is being assaulted. She claimed the “will of the people is being denied!” She insisted she and other justices are victims of a plot.
Davis knows better.
Her retirement came hours after the House of Delegates approved articles of impeachment against all four high court justices. Former Justice Menis Ketchum resigned earlier this summer, after agreeing to plead guilty to federal charges involving misuse of a state vehicle and credit card.
Now, the state Senate will debate accusations against Justices Allen Loughry, Elizabeth Walker and Margaret Workman. Had Davis not resigned, she would have been on the list.
Loughry’s case is the most serious, stemming from numerous federal crimes allegedly committed through his position on the court.
Articles of impeachment against the individual justices vary. Criticism of them has focused on excessive spending, circumventing a state law on how retired circuit judges are paid for temporary service and failure to establish and maintain policies against misuse of state resources.
Davis argues the rule of law is under attack. Nonsense. Rules provided for in the state Constitution have been followed scrupulously. A House committee investigated and recommended the articles of impeachment. The full House voted on them. Now, the matter goes to the Senate.
The will of the people is not being denied. Seats on the court formerly held by Davis and Ketchum will be filled by voters on Nov. 6. If others are removed, Gov. Jim Justice may appoint temporary replacements, but those seats, too, will be filled by voters eventually.
As far as a plot being involved, perhaps Davis should look in the mirror. Without the public’s knowledge, until a reporter exposed the massive waste, the court spent more than $1.5 million to remodel the five justices’ offices. Likewise, use of state resources for personal purposes by some justices was hushed up until the press and legislators got wind of it. So was circumventing state law on how retired judges are paid for temporary service.
West Virginia’s Constitution provides that any state official may be impeached, tried by the Senate and removed “for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty or any high crime or misdemeanor.” The process of determining whether any justice will be removed has followed the letter of the law.
To date, legislators Davis lashed out at have done no more than make accusations. They have subjected no justice to any form of discipline or punishment.
On the other hand, one justice, Loughry, was suspended from the court several weeks ago, after charges were filed.
That suspension was approved by the other justices — including Davis. Was that a plot?