West Virginia College of Law News & Information

3 Mar

Judge Groh nominated for federal post

Sens. Rockefeller, Manchin ask that she be appointed to Broadwater’s vacant seat
March 3, 2011 – By Edward Marshall, Journal Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG – U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin want the White House to consider Circuit Court Judge Gina Marie Groh for a federal judgeship.

Rockefeller announced Wednesday that he’s asked that Groh be nominated to fill the seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. That seat has been left vacant since 2006 following the death of Judge W. Craig Broadwater, who passed away from cancer.

The late Sen. Robert C. Byrd had nominated Charleston lawyer Nick Casey for the post in October 2009, but he wasn’t confirmed.

Groh could become the first Eastern Panhandle resident elevated to a federal judgeship, according to the Associated Press.

“Judge Groh is a proven leader in West Virginia’s legal community and is dedicated to upholding the principles of justice and fairness, which we expect from all members of our federal judiciary,” Rockefeller said in a news release. “Judge Groh has a wide range of judicial and legal experience that spans her twenty-one year legal career.”

Groh was appointed in 2006 to a newly created judgeship in state’s 23rd Judicial Circuit when Manchin was governor of the state. She was re-elected to a full term in 2008.

She currently presides over cases in both Berkeley and Morgan counties.

“I was extremely proud to appoint Judge Groh to the circuit court when I was governor of West Virginia, and I join Senator Rockefeller in recommending her for the federal bench,” Manchin said. “As a former prosecutor, she’s fair-minded, has impeccable standards and will be an excellent addition to the court.”

Prior to becoming a judge, Groh spent nine years as a litigation associate at firms in Martinsburg and Washington, D.C., and later served as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Berkeley and Jefferson counties for more than eight years.

Groh earned her Juris Doctor degree from the West Virginia University College of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Shepherd University. A resident of Charles Town, Groh also have been involved in community-oriented programs, from participating in “Robes to Schools” – a program that helps school children learn about judges and the judicial process – to volunteering with the Meals With Love Ministry in Charles Town.

“Judge Groh is an extremely strong candidate for this position who would carry on Judge Broadwater’s tradition of treating all litigants with respect and deciding cases in a fair manner. I have deep confidence in her ability to fill this position,” Rockefeller said.

He also commented on the possibility that Groh may become the first Eastern Panhandle resident to become a federal judge if her nomination is confirmed.

“I was surprised to learn that as far as historians can determine, there has never been a resident of the Eastern Panhandle elevated to a federal judgeship in West Virginia. I am very happy to be the one to change that for the good of the Panhandle, the state and the nation,” he said.

Rockefeller went on to thank all of the candidates who volunteered to serve in the position left vacant by Broadwater, including Casey, who is now a managing partner at the law firm of Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins.

– The Associated Press contributed to this article.

– Staff writer Edward Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or emarshall@journal-news.net

3 Mar

Professor Atiba Ellis will present on a panel that is part of the symposium, The Impact of Citizens United in the 2010 Elections, Friday, March 4, 2011. This will be at John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

2 Mar

WVU College of Law election results

Brian | March 2nd, 2011

Please congratulate the following students who will represent the College of Law and their respective classes in student government positions.

SBA Officers:
President: Shane Wilson
Vice President: See note below regarding run-off election
Secretary: Dennis Kittle
Treasurer: Nate Chapman
Social Chair: Justin Williams
Community Service Chair: Matthew Chase

Class of 2012 Officers:
President: Chad Webb
Vice President: Brooke Atchison
Secretary: Jacob Jean
Social Chair: Ambria Adkins
Ethics Council: Noah Barnes, Kate DiStefano, Tom Yanni

Class of 2013 Officers:
President: Molly Russell
Vice President: Sherman Neal
Secretary: Jonathan Storage
Treasurer: Mike Powell
Social Chair: Evan Conrad
Fundraising: Will Swann
Community Service: Brittany Furr
Ethics Council: Michael Nissim-Sabat, Brandon Smith, Aaron Yonash

Constitutional referendum: Passed

Congratulations students. Per the current by-laws of the SBA, a candidate must have 50% plus one vote in order to be declared a winner in the first-round election. Votes are counted against the total number of ballots cast, and abstentions are included in the vote tally. Neither candidate for SBA Vice President had at least 50% plus one vote. Thus, there will be a run-off election between Dallas Kratzer and Phil Enoch this Friday in the lobby from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. All students may vote.

Candidates may campaign through 4:00 tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, 3/3), at which point all campaign signs must be taken down. Candidates are further asked to refrain from contacting students through University-sourced email. This includes listservs and use of any organizational lists via TWEN. Additionally, candidates may not encourage voting in the lobby during Friday’s run-off election.

1 Mar

Prof. Patricia Hureston Lee will be presenting on a panel at the Association for Law, Property and Society (ALPS) at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, on Saturday, March 5, 2011. Her topic is titled, “Exploring Intellectual Property Law Through Law Clinical Programs”.

ALPS second annual conference Program

1 Mar

With the conclusion of the preliminary rounds of the Baker Cup, the Moot Court Board is proud to announce the newest members of the WVU College of Law Moot Court National Team:

Jason Bowles
Wes Chancey
Laura Full
Aaron Matthes
Courtney Richardson
Rebecca Saracco

These students will represent the College of Law next Fall in the National Moot Court Competition to be held in Richmond. They will also continue to compete in the Baker Cup with a chance to argue before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals next Tuesday. The competition was unusually tight this year, and the scores were all very impressive.

28 Feb

The WVU College of Law Marlyn E. Lugar team which recently competed in the 48th Annual Academy Mock Trial Competition (formerly known as Gourley) finished as 2nd place plaintiff and 4th place overall out of 16 teams.

Complete outcomes of the competition ca be found here 2011 Mock Trial Results.pdf [Snippet Error: This file has been deleted.]

The purpose of the Marlyn E. Lugar Trial Association is to establish a fitting edifice to a great educator and instructor (Marlyn E. Lugar) of trial practice who was an outstanding and dedicated member of the trial bar; and to further academic excellence and professional competence in the field of trial advocacy. Members are selected at the end of their first year of law school by lottery. First-year students serve as jurors for each of the trials. Second-year students serve as witnesses and bailiffs. Third-year students serve as the attorneys in each case. Three sets of trials are held each year. In the fall, the third year teams compete in two rounds for the places on the traveling trial advocacy team. In January and February, all students are invited to participate in the West Virginia Invitational Trial Advocacy Tournament. Students from all three years of law school compete in an intense, multi-round competition for the Lugar Cup.

27 Feb

Constitutional Law Prof Blog

With the new “austerity” budgets as well as efforts to ban collective bargaining by government employees, local governments are considering their options. In Ohio, The Local Government Fund Coalition launched this week. The state legislatures of Wyoming, Nevada, South Dakota, and Minnesota are among those that are reportedly considering the issue.

In West Virginia, a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to address the ability of a local governments to raise funds was introduced during the Regular Session of the West Virginia State Legislature this term. Born of an idea researched and advanced by Matthew Delligatti, the former mayor of Fairmont, West Virginia, and current third-year law student at WVU College of Law, House Joint Resolution 9 attempts to present the voters with a constitutional amendment designated “The Silenced Majority Local Levy and Bond Amendment.”

The resolution aims to amend the provisions of Article X of the West Virginia Constitution, which requires a 60% supermajority voter approval for the passage of municipal and county levies and bonds. In 1982, voters amended this restriction by ratifying an amendment requiring only a simple majority for school levies and bonds. However, the 60% threshold remains for all other local levies and bonds and continues to plague municipal and county leaders’ plans to raise revenue, including for recreational levies. While the Resolution has not yet been approved by both houses of the state legislature, many observers expect the measure to pass and be sent on to the voters for ratification. In fact, the State Senate unanimously passed the Resolution on Friday.

As the “Silenced Majority Amendment” makes clear, local government reform must conform to restrictions in state constitutions. Professor Robert Bastress at the WVU College of Law, is not only knowledgeable on the constitutionality of West Virginia statehood and the constitutionality of West Virginia’s “Acting Governor” controversies, but also the challenge of local government reform under West Virginia’s state constitution. In “Constitutional Considerations for Local Government Reform in West Virginia,” 108 W. Va. L. Rev. 125 (2005), Bastress surveys the history of local government reform and constitutional revision in West Virginia and offers considerations for legislators concerned with the constitutionality of statutory reforms of local government. In a follow-up article, Bastress addressed the principles underlying the need for vibrant, autonomous local government in “Localism and the West Virginia Constitution,” 109 W. Va. L. Rev. 983 (2007). In both pieces, Bastress lays out a strong case for local government reform.

He writes in Constitutional Considerations: “Moving toward consolidated governments and cooperative arrangements provides great opportunities to share resources, achieve efficiencies, and promote equity. Any such effort, however, should include mechanisms to preserve the advantages of small government: local self-determination, diversity, governmental responsiveness to constituent concerns, citizen participation, and sense of community.” Id. at 169. Bastress then argues in Localism that the West Virginia Constitution “provides considerably more local government discretion” than has been previously understood. Id. at 684. Ultimately, Bastress links localism to democracy:

By leaving important decisions to local governments, a state promotes self-determination, the rationale and foundation of democracy. The smaller the governmental unit, the more input and influence an individual citizen can have on her government. Then, too, the more discretion that local leaders have, the better they can address problems in a manner that is most suitable to the community’s particular needs. Local people know local conditions the best and can most effectively address them, if they have sufficient regulatory tools and the resources to do so. . . .

With enhanced local power also comes enhanced citizen participation in local government. Citizens participate in government when that participation can be meaningful. The smaller the governmental unit, the more likely a citizen’s participation will be meaningful. And the more autonomy that unit has, the more likely the participation will prove to be useful. Active citizen participation in government improves the public debate, promotes better decision-making, advances the lives of the participants, and makes for a better polity and a better democracy.

Id. at 687 – 688. Bastress’ arguments extend well beyond West Virginia.

Ruthann Robson

with J. Zak Ritchie

25 Feb

This year’s lecture will be presented by Professor Ruthann Robson of City University of New York Law School.

The Marlee Kline Social Justice Lecture honours the memory of Marlee Gayle Kline, a UBC Law professor who died in 2001 after a lengthy and determined struggle with leukemia. Her work on feminist legal theory and critical race theory, child welfare law and policy, law’s continued colonialism, and restructuring of the social welfare state is internationally acclaimed. This lectureship not only recognizes Marlee’s rich contribution to the law school community but also reflects her belief in the central role social justice concerns must play in legal education and law.

This year’s lecture is titled, “UnSettled” and will be presented by Professor Ruthann Robson of City University of New York Law School.

When: March 3rd, 2011, 5:30-7:30PM (one hour lecture, followed by reception)
Where: Liu Institute for Global Issues (6476 NW Marine Drive, UBC Campus), Multipurpose Room (closest parking)

Seating is Limited. RSVP to communications@law.ubc.ca. Please ensure you indicate your full name along with the names of any guests in your email.

More about this year’s lecture:

Interweaving reportage, narrative, fiction, and legal analysis into a visual and oral mosaic, this presentation explores the links and dissonances amongst five colonial/post-colonial societies: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Themes include land, indigenous peoples, family, sexuality, gender, class, and the possibilities of forgiveness.

About the Presenter:
Ruthann Robson is Professor of Law and University Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, and the Visiting John T. Copenhaver Chair at the University of West Virginia School of Law. She is the author of Lesbian (Out)Law , Sappho Goes to Law School , and the forthcoming Dressing Constitutionally .

24 Feb

Please congratulate Kayde Cappellari, Phil Enoch, Courtney Richardson and Thomas Talley as the recipients of the Exemplary Student Group Award as part of the College of Law’s Culture of Excellence. In a competitive field that included teams from Washington & Lee, Howard, American, Richmond, UVA, Georgetown and others, the WVU College of Law BLSA Trial Competition Team advanced to the quarter-finals of the Thurgood Marshall Mid-Atlantic Mock Trial Competition where it was edged out by the team from the Georgetown School of Law who ultimately won the competition.


BLSA Trial Competition Team
Courtney Richardson, Kayde Cappellari, Phil Enoch, and Thomas Talley

Their advancement in the competition was a testament to their very hard work, the many hours they put into their preparation, and their performance. Their coach, Justice Larry Starcher, was extremely impressed, and with several of the team members being only 2Ls, feels that they could build on this performance to do even better next year. These outstanding students represented us extremely well and it is their work ethic as well as their performance that makes them exemplary.

21 Feb

Death Penalty Coming Back to West Virginia?

by Ben Katko

About 20 lawmakers are working to bring back the death penalty, and given this week’s murder of Deputy US Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, capital punishment is a hot topic yet again.

West Virginia hasn’t had the death penalty since 1965, but a new proposed bill, House Bill 2526, calls to bring back the death penalty.

This time though, it would require someone to die by lethal injection under a series of aggravated circumstances, most notably, the killing of a law enforcement officer like we saw with the death of Hotsinpiller.

“I think you’d probably find a lot of support, we’ll say that, for the death penalty for the murder of a law enforcement officer,” says Chief Deputy Ricky Adkins of the Monongalia County Sheriff Department.

Law experts say that even though the idea of reinstating the death penalty keeps coming up, it might not be likely to pass.

“I would be very surprised if the majority of both houses would pass the bill, and the governor would sign it. The trend in the country is away from the death penalty,” says Gerald Ashdown of the WVU School of Law.

Adkins says that a tragedy like the death of Hotsinpiller likely won’t be the last of it’s nature, but anything to cut down on incidents like this is a plus.

“Is it something that needs looked at closer? I believe so. A horrible event like this brings it to the forefront, but it’s not something that hasn’t happened in the past, and won’t happen in the future. I think that anything that might curb it would be welcome for all law enforcement,” adds Adkins.

But, Ashdown doesn’t think that enacting the death penalty again will cut down the numbers.

“There’s no proof that it’s actually a deterrent to violent crime or homicide, in fact, all the studies indicate that it’s not,” adds Ashdown.

When an officer is murdered, Adkins says it doesn’t matter if they knew them or not, it still hits home.

“The murder of a policeman or law enforcement officer, whether it be federal, state or local, is one of the most horrible events we can go through. Even if you don’t know the person individually, you have that bond,” says Adkins.

There are 35 states in the United States that still use the death penalty as a form of punishment.