November 19, 2018

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Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Halts Impeachment Trial

On Monday, the West Virginia Senate had planned to begin the impeachment trial for Chief Justice Margaret Workman –  but last week, the acting justices on the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that Workman’s impeachment was unconstitutional.

In September, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach four West Virginia Supreme Court Justices after questions arose about expensive, state-funded office renovations.

Chief Justice Margaret Workman sued the legislature, arguing her impeachment violated the state constitution. Five acting justices heard the case, and last week unanimously halted the impeachment proceedings against Workman. As Slate explains, the acting court found that this particular impeachment violated separation of powers principles because the “legislature has no power to impeach a justice based on alleged violations of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct,” and that the procedure the House followed also violated due process requirements.

According to The Washington Post, “It’s not clear how Workman’s case will proceed; attorneys for the Senate had previously indicated that they planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Judge Paul Farrell, the presiding judge for the impeachment trial, said he would obey the court order, and not preside over the case.  

© Copyright 2018 Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law

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About this Author

Research & Program Associate

Laila is a Research and Program Associate in the Democracy Program, where she focuses on issues pertaining to fair and impartial courts. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Laila interned at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she created Brooklyn’s first police accountability database, which attorneys use to enhance defense services and mitigate police misconduct.

Laila graduated cum laude from Yale in May of 2017 with a degree in History and distinction in the major. While an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant for Professor Kate Stith at Yale Law...

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