The first West Virginia Supreme Court impeachment trial targets Justice Beth Walker, who spent the least of all justices on office renovations at taxpayer expense.
Still, it did exceed six-figures.
“That there were renovations and refurbishing to that office that cost over $131,000?” asked Chairmon of the House Judiciary Committee Delegate John Shott, (R-Mercer) during the first day of the trial.
“I am quite aware of that and I regret it sincerely,” answered Justice Beth Walker.
The Senate is considering one article of impeachment against Justice Walker, alleging maladministration for over-spending taxpayer funds.
Over a six-year period, even before Walker joined the court, Justices spent more than $40,000 on taxpayer catered lunches.
“You won’t see an invoice from the cafeteria downstairs,” Shott continued. “What you will see are, for the most part, almost exclusively invoices from some of the most expensive places where you can buy lunch here in Charleston.”
“When this issue was raised, Beth Walker was the only member of the Supreme Court who took ownership of her mistakes,” said Walker’s Defense Attorney Mike Hissam. “She wrote a check. She paid back every penny of the lunches that had been provided to her.”
Senate leaders told their colleagues to be open-minded.
“We’ve advised our members to listen to all the evidence. Glean everything that is said, and make your decisions accordingly,” said Senate Minority Leader Senator Roman Prezioso, (D-Marion).
“It’s critical. I mean this should be as unbiased, as a juror you should be an unbiased participant in this process,” said Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns (R-Ohio).
If convicted, Justice Walker faces removal from the Supreme Court.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Paul Ferrell who is overseeing this case says the trial for Justice Beth Walker should last three of four days.
The hearing will resume at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 2.