Today in the Legislature

Friday, July 13, 2018 - 01:58 PM

House Judiciary calls former W.Va. Supreme Court employees as witnesses

The House Judiciary Committee continued taking witness testimony in the second day of impeachment proceedings.

Friday morning, Committee Chief Counsel Marsha Kauffman called Scott Harvey, former West Virginia Supreme Court database administrator and former director of technology.

Harvey testified that he and other employees made multiple visits to Justice Allen Loughry’s home to extend internet access between Loughry’s house and the state Supreme Court and to set up two desktop computers—one in the kitchen/family area and one in a room Loughry referred to as an office area.  

Harvey testified one of these desktops served a “shared” computer in which Loughry’s family had access. Harvey said he personally questioned the need for the computer in the family room and allowing family members to use a state computer.

On a fourth visit to Loughry’s house, Harvey said they had to deal with a virus on the family room computer.

“It came to me through the IT chain that there were a lot of games installed on the computer,” Harvey said.

Harvey said other justices had computers in their homes but he had never done a site survey with the other justices to the extent or degree he did with Loughry.

Harvey also testified about a consulting firm hired to program a statewide magistrate court system, which took the entire magistrate court system from paper to electronic.

He said he did not believe was necessary because the court could have done the work with their own employees. Harvey said this was an opportunity for the court to bring in revenue but there was a lack of knowledge about how the payment process should be handled within the state.

He said the court came up with its own way of how they would do it but the state treasurer disagreed with that method.

Harvey said it involved the fee payment processing on the state Supreme Court server instead of the treasurer’s server, which is why the treasurer objected. He said after this document was re-worked that said the treasurer would process the payments, the treasurer signed off on the document.

He said Justice Menis Ketchum threatened him twice, saying if he didn’t get the treasurer to sign off on the document, he would be fired.

Ketchum submitted his letter of retirement/resignation Wednesday so the committee will not consider evidence against him.

The committee later called Paul Fletcher Adkins, assistant to the administrative director of courts, as a witness. Adkins worked at the state Supreme Court for 35 years.

Adkins said he approved the bill for Young’s Moving Service. He said the moving company transported office furniture on West Virginia Day from Loughry’s office into a warehouse during renovations at the court. 

Adkins met the people from Young’s Moving Service at the warehouse to let them in and then locked up the warehouse when he left.

However, before the moving company went to the warehouse, Adkins said the moving company stopped at Loughry’s house and then went to the Capitol to pick up furniture to transport to the warehouse.

When asked what specific items were unloaded into the warehouse, Adkins said nothing stood out to him. He said there was a single item delivered to Dudley Drive, under Loughry’s supervision. However, he did not know what that was.

“If something was delivered to Dudley Drive and under the supervision of a justice, there was nothing I would have to say about it,” he said.

Adkins confirmed Loughry used a Cass Gilbert desk when he served as a law clerk with the court but said he was unsure if he had it in his chamber.

Before recessing, the committee played an audio clip from Loughry’s testimony before the House Finance Committee during session and then a WCHS interview with Loughry.

In the interview, Loughry called the expenses “outrageous and shameful.” He said he had “very little input” into the renovations and furnishings of his office. Loughry said former court administrative director Steve Canterbury was in charge of the expenditures.

The Judiciary Committee will resume work on impeachment proceedings 9 a.m. Thursday, July 19.

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