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WVU College of Law Prof. Valena Beety

Valena Elizabeth Beety

Valena Beety

Professor of Law

Awards and Achievements

  • 2015-2016 West Virginia University College of Law Faculty Significant Scholarship Award
  • 2016 West Virginia Law Review Professor of the Year
  • 2013 Big XII Faculty Fellow, University of Texas School of Law
  • 2012 BLSA Faculty Member of the Year, University of Mississippi College of Law


  • B.A., University of Chicago, 2002
  • J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 2006


Valena Elizabeth Beety is a Professor of Law and Founding Director of the West Virginia Innocence Project at the West Virginia University College of Law. She represented WVU as a Big XII Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas School of Law in Fall 2013. Beety’s scholarship and teaching interests include criminal procedure, causes of wrongful conviction, prisons and policing. Her experience as a federal prosecutor and litigating innocence cases in Mississippi and West Virginia shape her interest in criminal justice, from investigation through incarceration.

A 2006 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Beety clerked for Chief Judge James G. Carr of the Northern District of Ohio, and the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She served as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia before joining the Mississippi Innocence Project as a senior staff attorney. At WVU, Beety created and was the inaugural director of the ground-breaking LL.M. in Forensic Justice, launched in Fall 2015. She also created the Franklin D. Cleckley Fellowship, a joint collaboration between the University of Chicago Law School and the WVU College of Law to sponsor a recent law school graduate to work at the West Virginia Innocence Project.

Beety serves nationally as an elected board member of the Innocence Network, and as an invited board member of the Research Center on Violence. In West Virginia she is an appointed member of the Governor’s Indigent Defense Commission. She is a founding member of the Appalachian Justice Initiative at WVU College of Law. Beety received the WVU College of Law Faculty Scholarship Award in 2016 and her scholarship is published widely, most notably in the Northwestern Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review, and the Florida Law Review. She is co-author of The Wrongful Convictions Reader, published by Carolina Academic Press in 2018.

Publications, Research, and Intellectual Contributions

  • Regulating Bite Mark Evidence: Lesbian Vampires and Other Myths of Forensic Odontology, 94 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2019) (with Valena Elizabeth Beety).
  • Will the Federal Government Enforce the Fourteenth Amendment?. ABA Insights on Law & Society Magazine (Spring 2017).
  • Race to Death: A Critical Look at the Death Penalty as Arkansas Executes Eight. online: JURIST. (2017)
  • Prosecuting Opioid Use, Punishing Rurality, ___ Ohio St. L. J. ___ (forthcoming 2019) (invited symposium contribution).
  • Evidence on Fire, 97 North Carolina L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2019) (with Jennifer Oliva)
  • The Overdose/Homicide Epidemic, ___ Ga. State U. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2018) (invited symposium contribution).
  • Evidence on Fire, 97 North Carolina L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2019) (with Jennifer Oliva).
  • Reading Innocence: A Wrongful Convictions Reader, Carolina Academic Press (forthcoming 2018) (co-author Russell Covey).
  • Discovering Forensic Fraud, 112 Northwestern U. L. Rev. 124 (2017) (co-author Jennifer Oliva).
  • Changing the Culture of Disclosure and Forensics, 73 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. Online 580 (2017).
  • Voices on Innocence, 68 Fla. L. Rev. 1569 (2017) (co-authors Lucian Dervan, Richard Leo, Meghan Ryan, Gregory Gilchrist, William Berry).
  • Introduction to the West Virginia Law Review Flawed Forensics and Innocence Symposium, 119 W. Va. L. Rev. 101 (2016) (symposium organizer).
  • Cops in Lab Coats, Forensics in the Courtroom, 13 Ohio St. J. of Crim. L. 543 (2016) (peer-reviewed journal).
  • Contemporary Perspectives on Wrongful Conviction: An Introduction to the 2016 Innocence Network Conference, San Antonio, 45 Hofstra L. Rev. 2 (2016) (symposium organizer) (co-authors Aliza Kaplan, Keith Findley, Gwen Jordan).
  • Identifying the Culprit in Wrongful Convictions, 82 Tenn. L. Rev. 975 (2015).
  • Judicial Dismissal in the Interest of Justice, 80 Missouri L. Rev 629 (2015) (lead article); see also (successful motions).
  • Contemporary Perspectives on Wrongful Conviction: An Introduction to the 2015 Innocence Network Conference, Orlando, Florida, 3 Tex. A&M L. Rev.179 (2015) (symposium organizer) (co-authors Aliza Kaplan and Robert Schehr).
  • Emergence from Civil Death: The Evolution of Expungement in West Virginia, 117 W. Va. L. Rev. Online 63 (2015) (co-authors Judge Michael Aloi and Evan Johns).
  • Protecting West Virginia’s Innocent, The West Virginia Lawyer (Dec. 2013) (co-author Ifeoma Ike).
  • The Case of Trayvon Martin and the Need for Eyewitness Identification Reform, 90 Denver U. L. Rev. 331 (2013).
  • Risk and Execution: The Local Impact of Capital Cases on Mississippi Counties, 82 Miss. L. J. 133 (2013).
  • Ethics and Economics: The Death Penalty in Mississippi, 81 Miss. L. J. 1437 (2012).
  • Mississippi Initiative 26: Personhood and the Criminalization of Intentional and Unintentional Acts by Pregnant Women, 81 Miss. L. J. Supra 55 (2011), (organized online symposium).
  • Reframing Asylum Standards for Mutilated Women, 11 J. Gender Race & Just. 239 (2008).


  • Member, N.D.W.V. Federal Drug Court Team
  • Member, West Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
  • Member, Executive Board of the Innocence Network

Teaching Experience

  • Associate Professor of Law, West Virginia University College of Law, 2012 – Present
  • Visiting Scholar, Colorado Law School, Spring 2015
  • Big XII Faculty Fellow, University of Texas School of Law, October 2013
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Mississippi School of Law, 2010 – 2012

Professional Experience

  • Senior Staff Attorney, Mississippi Innocence Project, 2009-2012
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, 2008-2009
  • Law Clerk, Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2007-2008
  • Law Clerk, Honorable Chief Judge James G. Carr, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, 2006-2007
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