With print media suffering, local stories can get buried - even big ones. Take for example what’s happening in West Virginia. The state’s Supreme Court—what’s left of it—is being impeached. They’ve already had one justice resign and plead guilty for felonious activity. Justice Menis Ketchum landed in legal trouble with his wire fraud charges (via West Virginia Record):
Former state Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum has agreed to plead guilty...
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart made the announcement during a July 31 news conference. An information is used by federal authorities when a defendant agrees to plead guilty and waives his right to an indictment. Stuart and federal investigators have been examining the state Supreme Court’s spending practices.
Ketchum, 75, used a state-owned vehicle to commute from his home in Huntington to the court in Charleston starting in 2012, according to the information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
An information can’t be filed without a defendant's consent. It also usually means the defendant is cooperating with federal prosecutors.
"Defendant Menis E. Ketchum II knew that he was not authorized to use the Buick Lucerne nor was he authorized to charge his fuel costs to the State of West Virginia because this travel was entirely for personal and recreational reasons," the information states.
The five-seat court had a vacancy. Now, the remaining four justices—Margaret Workman, Robin Davis, Allen Loughry and Beth Walker—are being impeached for a slew of charges relating to abuse of taxpayer money, among other things. The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee filed the articles yesterday (via Charleston Gazette-Mail):
The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee approved 14 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
The eighth day of the committee’s meetings regarding possible impeachment produced the first material results when 14 articles of impeachment were introduced at 9:25 a.m.
By the time the committee adjourned at 6:15 p.m., its members had added two new articles to their draft and rejected two of the original proposed articles, advancing the possibility of impeachment for the majority of the elected officials in the Mountain State’s judicial branch of government.
Those articles will now advance to the full House of Delegates for consideration. Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley, said Tuesday he called for the House to reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday.
The articles of impeachment charge Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justices Robin Davis, Allen Loughry and Beth Walker with maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty and certain high crimes.
In total, Loughry is the subject of eight articles of impeachment. Workman and Davis each are the subject of four and Walker is the subject of two.
Each justice is charged with “unnecessary and lavish” spending of state taxpayer dollars to renovate their offices in the East Wing of the Capitol. All four of them also are charged with failing to develop and maintain court policies regarding the use of state resources, including cars, computers and funds in general.
Well, it looks like the ride on the gravy train is over.