W.Va. senators move ahead with impeachment trials, even for the justice who resigned

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s remaining Supreme Court justices are all headed for impeachment trial.

Senators batted down a proposed settlement to keep justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker on the court and rejected a motion to halt the impeachment trial process for Justice Robin Davis, who abruptly retired weeks ago.

West Virginia appears headed for a fall the likes of which it has never seen.

The stage was set during a day of pretrial hearings in the Senate, with Judge Paul Farrell presiding.

The House of Delegates last month passed 11 articles of impeachment dealing with the justices’ administrative and spending decisions.

Senators are now acting as jurors, deciding whether the justices should remain in office.

The pretrial hearing on Tuesday began with House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, offering a possible resolution.

Under what Shott described, impeachment articles would be dismissed for justices Walker and Workman, who face the fewest accusations. Instead, they would agree to accept censure and steer the court toward greater responsibility.

The possible deal resulted from discussions by Shott, Delegate Andrew Byrd, D-Kanawha, Walker’s counsel, Workman’s counsel, Senate counsel and the Senate parliamentarian.

Their discussions focused on the deal itself and procedure, but the politics was less clear.

“It’s in all of our interest for the steps to begin to rebuild that confidence. We believe this is a good first step. We urge your adoption of it without any hesitation,” Shott told senators on Tuesday morning.

Senators, who had heard rumors of a deal but not the details, adjourned for several hours. During that time, they discussed it among themselves. Their casual discussions in offices and hallways revealed there was no political consensus.

“If there wasn’t a consensus in the majority, we’re not going to drive that train with the number of members that we have,” Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said. “It was sort of surprising all the things that did happen.”

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