State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, No. 18-0816

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtMatish, Acting Chief Justice
Citation819 S.E.2d 251
Parties STATE of West Virginia EX REL. Margaret L. WORKMAN, Petitioner v. Mitch CARMICHAEL, as President of the Senate; Donna J. Boley, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate; Ryan Ferns, as Senate Majority Leader, Lee Cassis, Clerk of the Senate ; and the West Virginia Senate, Respondents
Docket NumberNo. 18-0816
Decision Date11 October 2018

819 S.E.2d 251

STATE of West Virginia EX REL. Margaret L. WORKMAN, Petitioner
v.
Mitch CARMICHAEL, as President of the Senate; Donna J. Boley, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate; Ryan Ferns, as Senate Majority Leader, Lee Cassis, Clerk of the Senate ; and the West Virginia Senate, Respondents

No. 18-0816

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Filed: October 11, 2018


819 S.E.2d 258

Marc E. Williams, Melissa Foster Bird, Thomas M. Hancock, Christopher D. Smith, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Huntington, West Virginia, Attorneys for Petitioner

J. Mark Adkins, Floyd E. Boone, Jr., Richard R. Heath, Jr., Lara Brandfass, Bowles Rice, Charleston, West Virginia, Attorneys for Respondents

Matish, Acting Chief Justice:

819 S.E.2d 259

The Petitioner, the Honorable Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, brought this proceeding under the original jurisdiction of this Court as a petition for a writ of mandamus that seeks to halt impeachment proceedings against her. The Respondents named in the petition are the Honorable Mitch Carmichael, President of the Senate; the Honorable Donna J. Boley, President Pro Tempore of the Senate; the Honorable Ryan Ferns, Senate Majority Leader; the Honorable Lee Cassis, Clerk of the Senate; and the West Virginia Senate.1 The Petitioner seeks to have this Court prohibit the Respondents from prosecuting her under

819 S.E.2d 260

three Articles of Impeachment returned against her by the West Virginia House of Delegates. The Petitioner has briefed the following issues to support her contention that she is entitled to the relief sought. The Petitioner has alleged several issues which we have distilled to the essence as alleging that the Articles of Impeachment against her violate the Constitution of West Virginia because (1) an administrative rule promulgated by the Supreme Court supersede statutes in conflict with them; (2) the determination of a violation of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct rests exclusively with the Supreme Court; (3) the Articles of Impeachment were filed in violation of provisions of House Resolution 201. Upon careful review of the briefs, the appendix record, and the applicable legal authority, we grant relief as outlined in this opinion.2

INTRODUCTION

Although the Petitioner in this matter requested oral argument under Rule 20 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, and even though this case presents issues of first impression, raises constitutional issues, and is of fundamental public importance, the Respondents, however, waived that right as follows:

Oral argument is unnecessary because no rule to show cause is warranted. This case presents the straightforward application of unambiguous provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia that, under governing precedent of this Court, the Supreme Court of the United States and courts across the nation unquestionably affirm the West Virginia Senate’s role as the Court of Impeachment.

This Court further notes that the Respondents declined to address the merits of the Petitioner’s arguments. The Respondents stated the following:

At the outset, it important to note that Respondents take no position with respect to facts as laid out by Petitioner, or the substantive merits of the legal arguments raised in the Petition. In fact, it is constitutionally impermissible for Respondents to do so, as they are currently sitting as a Court of Impeachment in judgment of Petitioner for the allegations made in the Articles adopted by the House.

The Respondents have not cited to any constitutional provision which prevents them from responding directly or through the Board of Managers (the prosecutors), to the merits of the Petitioner’s arguments. It is expressly provided in Rule 16(g) of the Rules of Appellate Procedure that "[i]f the response does not contain an argument in response to a question presented by the petition, the Court will assume that the respondent agrees with the petitioner’s view of the issue." In light of the Respondent’s waiver of oral argument and refusal to address the merits of the Petitioner’s arguments, this Court exercises its discretion to not require oral argument and will rule upon the written Petition, Response, Reply, and various appendices.3

Our forefathers in establishing this Country, as well as the leaders who established the framework for our State, had the forethought to put a procedure in place to address issues that could arise in the future; in the ensuing years that system has served us well. What our forefathers did not envision is the fact that subsequent leaders would not have the ability or willingness to read, understand, or to follow those guidelines. The problem we have today is that people do not bother to read the rules, or if they read

819 S.E.2d 261

them, they decide the rules do not apply to them.

There is no question that a governor, if duly qualified and serving, can call a special session of the Legislature. There is no question that the House of Delegates has the right to adopt a Resolution and Articles of a Bill of Impeachment. There is no question that the Senate is the body which conducts the trial of impeachment and can establish its own rules for that trial and that it must be presided over by a member of this Court. This Court should not intervene with any of those proceedings because of the separation of powers doctrine, and no one branch may usurp the power of any other coequal branch of government. However, when our constitutional process is violated, this Court must act when called upon.

Fundamental fairness requires this Court to review what has happened in this state over the last several months when all of the procedural safeguards that are built into this system have not been followed. In this case, there has been a rush to judgment to get to a certain point without following all of the necessary rules. This case is not about whether or not a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia can or should be impeached; but rather it is about the fact that to do so, it must be done correctly and constitutionally with due process. We are a nation of laws and not of men, and the rule of law must be followed.

By the same token, the separation of powers doctrine works six ways. The Courts may not be involved in legislative or executive acts. The Executive may not interfere with judicial or legislative acts. So the Legislature should not be dealing with the Code of Judicial Conduct, which authority is limited to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The greatest fear we should have in this country today is ourselves. If we do not stop the infighting, work together, and follow the rules; if we do not use social media for good rather than use it to destroy; then in the process, we will destroy ourselves.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Petitioner was appointed as a judge to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, by former Governor John D. Rockefeller, IV, on November 16, 1981. She was later elected in 1982 by the voters to fill out the remainder of the unexpired term of her appointment. She was subsequently elected again in 1984 for a full term. In 1988, the Petitioner was elected by the voters to fill a vacancy on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. She served a full term and left office in 2000. The Petitioner ran again for a position on the Supreme Court in 2008 and won.

In late 2017, the local media began publicizing reports of their investigations into the costs for renovating the offices of the Supreme Court Justices. Those publicized reports led to an investigation by the Legislative Auditor into the spending practices of the Supreme Court in general. The Auditor’s office issued a report in April of 2018. This report was focused on the conduct of Justice Allen Loughry and Justice Menis Ketchum. The report concluded that both Justices may have used state property for personal gain in violation of the state Ethics Act. The report indicated that the matter was referred to the West Virginia Ethics Commission for further investigation.4 In June of 2018 the Judicial Investigation Commission charged Justice Loughry with 32 violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of Professional Conduct. Justice Loughry was subsequently indicted by the federal government on 22 charges.5

On June 25, 2018, Governor Jim Justice issued a Proclamation calling the Legislature to convene in a second extraordinary session to consider the following:

First: Matters relating to the removal of one or more Justices of the Supreme Court
819 S.E.2d 262
of Appeals of West Virginia, including, but not limited to, censure, impeachment, trial, conviction, and disqualification; and

Second: Legislation authorizing and appropriating the expenditure of public funds to pay the expenses for the Extraordinary Session.

Pursuant to this Proclamation, the Legislature convened on June 26, 2018, to carry out the task outlined therein.

The record indicates that on June 26,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 practice notes
  • State ex rel. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. v. Moats, Nos. 20-0694
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 11, 2021
    ...for the judicial system, and demands that those rules have the force of law." State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W. Va. 105, 132, 819 S.E.2d 251, 278 (2018). Accord , Syl. pt. 10, Teter v. Old Colony Co. , 190 W. Va. 711, 714, 441 S.E.2d 728, 731 (1994) ("Under Article VIII, ... Secti......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.10 This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael , 241 W. Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher , 202 W. Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard o......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 18, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.[10] This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W.Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher, 202 W.Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard of ......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 18, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.[10] This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W.Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher, 202 W.Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State ex rel. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. v. Moats, Nos. 20-0694
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 11, 2021
    ...for the judicial system, and demands that those rules have the force of law." State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W. Va. 105, 132, 819 S.E.2d 251, 278 (2018). Accord , Syl. pt. 10, Teter v. Old Colony Co. , 190 W. Va. 711, 714, 441 S.E.2d 728, 731 (1994) ("Under Article VIII, ... Secti......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.10 This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael , 241 W. Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher , 202 W. Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard o......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 18, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.[10] This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W.Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher, 202 W.Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard of ......
  • In re Goldston, 20-0742
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 18, 2021
    ...art. VIII, § 8.[10] This power to sanction is "exclusive." Syl. Pt. 5, in part, State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 241 W.Va. 105, 819 S.E.2d 251 (2018). Therefore, our review is "plenary" and "independent." Matter of Starcher, 202 W.Va. 55, 60, 501 S.E.2d 772, 777 (1998). The standard of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Grounding the Lame Duck: the President, the Final Three Months, and Emergency Powers
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal Nbr. 109-4, April 2021
    • April 1, 2021
    ...had opponents regained control of the legislature, they could have reversed the new laws. 260. See State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, 819 S.E.2d 251, 289 (W. Va. 2018) (reversing the legislature in part because it had based the impeachment on judicial-conduct issues that the state constit......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT