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Disgraced West Virginia Justice Gets Disbarred

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 29, 2018 12:33 PM

West Virginia's Supreme Court is a tangled mess, and it's getting worse.

One justice has been charged with misusing government resources. Another pleaded guilty to a felony, and the state legislature impeached the entire court over a $3 million spending scandal.

How could it get worse? Ask former chief justice Menis Ketchum; he just lost his license to practice law.

Annulment/Disbarment

In West Virginia, they call Ketchum's case an "annulment." Like a marriage annulment rather than a divorce, it basically means it never happened.

That's a gut-check for the former, two-time chief justice. A West Virginia product, he practiced law for 41 years before being elected to the bench in 2008.

His career came crashing to an end in August, when he pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He admitted repeatedly using a state car and credit card for golf trips.

He faces up to 20 years when sentenced. But that's not the worst that could happen to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Acting Supreme Court

Because of the impeachment proceedings, an independent panel has been appointed to handle the supreme mess. It's so tangled they can't do anything about it.

The acting WV Supreme Court recently blocked the impeachment trial of Justice Margaret Workman on constitutional and procedural grounds. Now, the panel says, they don't have jurisdiction to hear from other justices who want to stay their trials as well.

It has something to do with the state legislature, which apparently short-shrifted the articles of impeachment. Justice Robin Davis is suing the lawmakers over it.

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