LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Robin Davis: the Queen of Hubris

Updated 3 weeks ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Terry Ranson

In the next book about corrupt West Virginia officials, Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis deserves her own chapter.

The recent scandal in which the West Virginia senate voted to impeach every member of supreme court is another blot on this state’s already tarnished history.

The main grievance involves excessive expenditures by the justices. Spending by the justices for renovations to their individual offices exceeded a million dollars.

Individually, alleged costs included $500,678 by Justice Robin Davis, $353,013 by Justice Allen Loughry, $131,655 by Justice Beth Walker and $111,035 by Chief Justice Margaret Workman. Loughry also faces 23 federal counts of fraud, witness tampering, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice.

Justice Menis E. Ketchum II, who retired from the court in late July, just days before he was charged with federal wire fraud. He spent $171,838 to renovate his office

Granted, no laws were broken. Under the state constitution, lawmakers control their own budget. Legally, in West Virginia, the fox guards the henhouse.

As bad as this is, none of the Justices exhibited the hubris of Justice Robin Davis. Far from showing any sign of contrition, she spoke out loudly against the action of the senate, berating Republicans for holding her responsible for her actions.

 "When a legislative body attempts to dismantle a separate branch of government, the immediate effects -- as well as the precedent it sets for the future -- can only be deemed disastrous," Davis said of the impeachments.

An impeachment article recently accused Davis of spending more half a million dollars - for items such as a $20,500 rug, $23,000 in design services, $1,600 on painting and an $8,100 chair - to remodel and renovate her office.

She will not be required to pay back one red cent. She will, instead, be enriched, again, with the tax dollars of the citizens of West virginia, one of the poorest states.

Instead of standing for impeachment, Davis announced her retirement rather than face a Senate trial. As she is 62, and has enough time as a justice to be vested, she is eligible for 75% of her salary - $101,250 per year.

That’s a nice retirement package for someone who resigned in disgrace.

But it’s clear she feels entitled to anything she can wrest from the taxpayers. Instead of issuing an apology, offering to pay back the money, or showing any remorse for her malfeasance, she attacked those who put a stop to it.

“The will of the people is being denied," she said, speaking out against Republicans. "I just cannot allow the finalizing of their plot to come to fruition.”

And as of September 26, Davis demonstrated even more avarice with a federal lawsuit contending “her constitutional rights to free expression and due process are being violated.”

She also plays the gender card, alleging she was singled out because she is a women. 

Her lawyers also contend “The Articles of Impeachment as filed are unsupported, invalid and do not warrant impeachment.”
If I ever compile a dictionary, under the word “shameless,” I will place a photo of Robin Davis. 
This is not the first time Davis has been accused of corruption. 

Davis is featured in Laurence Leamer’s 2013 non-fiction book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption in Coal Country. 
In December 2014, ABC News reported on controversies surrounding Robin Davis: her ties to attorney Michael Fuller, who helped her raise $37,000 for her campaign; and the sale of a Lear Jet by her husband Scott Segal. The investigation raises questions about conflicts of interest and ethical decisions made by the then-Chief Justice.
And these items, according to The West Virginia Register: 

 


• State Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis has hosted eight dinners at her residences for judges and justices in her 20 years on the court.


• The state Supreme Court paid nothing for six of the dinners, including one which was held at her and her attorney husband Scott Segal’s Jackson, Wyoming, home for state Supreme Court Chief Justices from across the nation during a conference. 


• Another time, the state paid $907.50 to Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority to shuttle the judges and other guests back and forth from lodging downtown to Davis’ home.


• Taxpayers paid more than $11,000 for one party at Davis’ Charleston home in 2013. The information was gathered from a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The West Virginia Record with the court.


• In July 1999, while Davis was a justice, the state Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs who claimed possible exposure to toxic substances could collect huge sums from corporate defendants for lifetime medical testing -- without having to prove it was likely they ever would get ill from the exposure.

 


This was an historic ruling. It permits, for example, lump-sum awards, with no strings on how the money is spent.


"The practical effect of this decision is to make almost every West Virginian a potential plaintiff in a medical-monitoring cause of action," complained Justice Elliott Maynard, the lone dissenter in the court's 4-1 ruling.


This is why West Virginia is now referred to as “tort hell.” And why many business will not locate here. 


And, in an amazingly convenient coincidence, Robin Davis’s husband, Scott Segal, is an attorney who got rich through class action lawsuits. 


Segal is an attorney in an unrelated medical-monitoring lawsuit in West Virginia for people who used fen-phen, a controversial diet-drug cocktail. The state Supreme Court's ruling, which affirmed and expanded medical monitoring, cleared the path for similar suits.
Supreme Court justices earn $136,000; not bad as the governor only makes $150,000. (The highest paid WV official is West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven L. Paine at $230,000 annually!)

God knows what Robin Davis’ net worth is. I could only find a Wiki reference stating $2 million - but it’s a hell of a lot more, just based on the property Davis and Segal own.

The Charleston power couple recently put their 19,000-square-foot mansion on the market. Asking price: $17 million. 


Despite their combined wealth, no one has bothered to suggest Davis pay back the $500,000 she spent on office renovations. Instead, she will get a fat pension for the rest of her life. 


Once again, Davis shows that corruption in West Virginia is not only easy to get by with, but very profitable as well.

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