Lawyers of Chief Justice Margaret Workman want impeachment charges dimissed

CHARLESTON — Lawyers for Chief Justice Margaret Workman are asking for an impeachment trial date of no sooner than Oct. 15.

The lawyers for Workman also said they plan to submit at least a dozen different motions to dismiss the impeachment charges against her. Lawyers for Justice Beth Walker on Friday afternoon filed a motion to dismiss Walker from the single article naming her.

Workman’s lawyers, who submitted filings Friday to the Senate clerk, say the issues are so varied and complex that they need at least another month to mount a proper defense.

“In a criminal case of comparable complexity, the parties would generally be afforded at least six months to digest the legal and factual issues in order to ready themselves for trial,” Workman’s lawyers wrote.

“In a comparable civil matter, the parties would expect to have no less than one year to prepare their presentations, and frequently much longer.”

The articles of impeachment were adopted by the House of Delegates Aug. 13. A pre-trial hearing for the Senate trial of West Virginia’s remaining Supreme Court justices is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Presiding Judge Paul Farrell could make determinations about trial scheduling then.

Senators could serve as jurors for as many as four trials, for justices Workman, Beth Wal-

ker, suspended Allen Loughry and Robin Davis, who ann-ounced her resignation the day after the House of Delegates passed 11 impeachment articles last month.

Sept. 17, which coincides with regularly scheduled interim meetings, has received wide speculation as a likely starting date for the first trial.

Loughry has a federal trial on two dozen charges scheduled for Oct. 2.

Workman’s lawyers say they need at least another month to prepare for the trial that could cause the two-term justice to be removed from office.

“The articles of impeachment, and particularly Article XIV, allege a broad range of misconduct at the Supreme Court of Appeals, from remodeling to lunches to picture framing to the content of the justices’ tax submissions,” Workman’s lawyers wrote.

“Because the trial will concern subjects so numerous and varied, enormous amounts of evidence must be obtained and reviewed not only by the defense, but also by the Board of Managers. Respondent has identified more than 60 possible witnesses, and today will produce in excess of 35,000 pages of documents that could be used at trial.”

Of the articles of impeachment, seven name Loughry, four name Davis, three name Workman and one names Walker.

One of the articles that names Workman is an all-encompassing maladministration charge, saying the justices failed to hold each other accountable.

That article accuses all four remaining justices of failing to establish policies about remodeling state offices, travel budgets, computers for home use and framing of personal items.

The other two articles that name Workman are somewhat redundant. They allege she signed off on a policy skirting state law by allowing senior status judges to exceed a cap on how much money they can make each year when they serve in open courtrooms around the state.

One of those two articles specifically names Workman. In the other, Workman and Davis are named together.

In 1988, Workman became the first woman in West Virginia history to be elected to the state’s highest court. She left the court in 2000 after serving a 12-year term. She ran again and was re-elected in 2008. Her current term would end in 2020.

Workman was elected chief justice by the rest of the court in February after multiple scandals focused on Loughry, who had been serving as chief justice.

Tweet Brad McElhinny @BradMcelhinny. Email: Brad.McElhinny@wvradio.com

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