CHARLESTON — The third day of hearings regarding the possible impeachment of Supreme Court justices concluded after hearing testimony from four current court employees.
Testimony was heard from Supreme Court Public Information Officer Jennifer Bundy, Deputy Director of Security Jess Gundy, Security Director Arthur Angus and Messenger Paul Mendez.
The focus today was mostly on the use of state-owned vehicles; the removal of a Cass Gilbert desk and couch from suspended Justice Allen Loughry's home to a state warehouse last year; and a home office policy.
Mendez, Angus and Gundy helped Loughry move the couch and the desk, which each stated was an unusual request and that they hadn't moved furniture from someone's home to a state warehouse until that point.
When moving the couch, a neighbor took a photo of the event. When moving the desk, Loughry told Gundy, Mendez and Angus that he did not want anyone taking photos and that he did not want the press aware they were moving the desk until after it was already moved.
The men moved the desk into the garage, then left until the neighbor who had taken the photo of the couch had left, then Loughry's wife informed Loughry that the neighbor was gone and they could come back to move the desk.
Gundy was asked if the secretive nature of Loughry's requests threw up any red flags to him.
"He'd been under fire a lot with the press, so, no, that didn't throw up any red flags to me at the time," Gundy said.
Gundy said in the testimony that Loughry had made a point to tell him he was not doing anything improper because justices were allowed to have home offices.
Gundy also testified about the state-owned vehicle use, noting that Loughry took one of the vehicles frequently, but that they would note it in their files that he had taken the vehicle.
Loughry returned the keys to the state-owned vehicles after he became under fire for use of the vehicles.
When she testified, Bundy was asked about questions she had answered for news reporters regarding Loughry, the remodeling of his chambers and
Bundy had said when questions were presented to her, she would speak with the justices and then give their response to the media requests.
She testified Loughry was adamant that there was a court policy that allowed home offices and that she relayed this information to the news reporters.
Bundy also stated she was kept out of the loop on several occasions regarding interviews between justices and news reporters until they were published because she continued her friendship with Steve Canterbury after he was fired from being the court administrator in 2017.
Bundy testified she worried she was going to lose her job, but that Loughry assured her she would not, but that he kept her in the dark about the interviews because of her continued friendship with Canterbury and not wanting to jeopardize the relationship between the two.
Angus and Gundy both noted in their testimony that they could have said no to helping Loughry move the desk and the couch, but that with several firings occurring in the Supreme Court, they did not want to lose their jobs.
The impeachment hearings will continue Friday at 9:15 a.m. with a video of a presentation Loughry made before the House Finance Committee. The House Judiciary Committee then will take a tour of the justices' chambers. The tour is closed to the media.
Loughry was suspended in June after allegations were made about his office use and lying.
Loughry was charged in a 23-count federal criminal indictment with lying to federal investigators, witness tampering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of more than 400 years and nearly $6 million in fines.