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U.S. Attorney’s Office and WVU hosting serial killer medicolegal symposium on October 14

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and West Virginia University to hold a symposium discussing the cutting-edge methods used to convict a serial killer who preyed on veterans at a VA hospital.

“The Medicolegal Symposium on the Serial Murder Case of Reta Mays” will be webcast from the WVU College of Law on October 14 from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration is free and required by October 12. For more information or to register, go to

In May 2021, Reta Mays, a former nursing assistant at the VA hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia, was sentenced to seven life terms in prison plus 20 years for murdering seven patients with insulin and attempting to murder an eighth veteran. The two-year investigation that preceded the July 2020 guilty pleas was highly complex.

The symposium will examine the clinical, forensic, psychiatry, and legal prosecution techniques used to ensure justice for Mays’ victims and their families. The prosecution team, investigators, and experts from around the globe will be presenting.

WVU consumer law center calls for action on data privacy

WVU Law professor Jena Martin

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Consumers in West Virginia and nationally are concerned about their digital data privacy, and there are few and often inconsistent laws to protect them — these are the findings of new research funded by the Center for Consumer Law and Education, a joint program between the West Virginia University College of Law and Marshall University.

WVU law professor Jena Martin is the author of “Data Privacy Issues in West Virginia and Beyond,” which is available online at SSRN. Martin has also adapted her paper for an article on the West Virginia Law Review Online that focuses primarily on how these issues affect West Virginians.

As a result of Martin’s research, the CCLE is calling for new data privacy laws that include:

Professor Tu named Georgetown health law scholar

WVU Law professor S. Sean Tu

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University College of Law professor S. Sean Tu has been named a scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

The O’Neill Institute brings together experts from public health and legal fields to help create innovative solutions to the most pressing global health concerns. It works to end pandemics, ensure human rights and build the right to health for people across the globe.

Tu is currently working on several research papers dealing with the intersection of patent law and FDA law, with the goal of finding solutions to provide better access to cheaper life-changing medicine.

“I am excited and honored to be named a scholar at the O’Neill Institute because it gets my patent law work in front of health law scholars,” he said.

Pilot program at WVU College of Law puts students into the courts

WV Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An innovative program at the West Virginia University College of Law exposes students to real-world experiences in the court system while earning course credit.

Elizabeth Walker, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, is one of several female judges across the state who helped develop the summer externship program.

“We came up with this idea to expose students directly to the important work in state courts and to pair our state’s female judges with law students,” she said. “We were thrilled with the opportunity to work with the College of Law on this initiative and look forward to offering similar programs in the future.”  

Professor  Jessica Haught is the director of WVU Law’s Fitzsimmons Center for Litigation and Advocacy, which facilitated the externship program.

WVU Law named a top school for public service

WVU Law Top Public Service School 2021-22 badge

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia University College of Law is one of the best schools in the country for students interested in public service, according to preLaw Magazine.

The national magazine places WVU Law at no. 11 for public interest law and no. 23 for federal clerkships.

“Public service is a cornerstone of WVU’s land-grant mission and our legal program,” said Amelia Rinehart, dean of the College of Law. “It’s exceptionally rewarding to be recognized at the highest levels for providing students with fulfilling opportunities in public service.”

The preLaw ranking is based on graduate employment rate, courses, clinics, externships, faculty, student groups, and student debt. The magazine analyzed data from the American Bar Association, U.S. News & World Report and the individual law schools.

WVU Law center finds Biden, Manchin energy plans will benefit West Virginia

WVU Law wind turbines

MORGANTOWN, W. Va.— Analysis from the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development  at the West Virginia University College of Law has determined that energy infrastructure incentives proposed in complementary plans from President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will benefit the Mountain State in job creation, energy costs and emissions reduction.

“West Virginia’s Energy Future: Built Back Better,” an update to a report released last year, illustrates how a dramatic increase in renewable energy production over the next decade could be feasible, notwithstanding electric utilities’ current dependence on coal.

“Built Back Better” finds the rapid expansion of renewable energy enabled by the energy infrastructure incentives in the American Jobs Plan would create 3,508 full-time jobs in West Virginia, while also reducing costs by $855 million through 2040. It would also allow electric utilities to achieve 79.4% emission-free electricity generation in 2030.

“Last year we showed how a major increase of wind and solar could be cost-effective even without any policy changes,” said  James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. “Now we’re showing how the Biden and Manchin plans would enable a swifter buildout of renewable energy while simultaneously creating thousands of jobs and significantly reducing energy costs in our state.”

WVU Law veterans clinic opens Charleston office

WVU Law Veterans Advocacy Clinic The Equities Hosue

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s nearly 170,000 veterans, many with unique legal needs related to their service or return to civilian life, will benefit from the regional office West Virginia University’s Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic has opened in The Equities House in Charleston.

“The state’s veterans who need legal assistance have a new resource in the capital,” said Amelia Rinehart, dean of the WVU College of Law. “This additional clinical law office will allow us to better serve our veterans in the central and southern part of the state.”

Under faculty supervision, law students in the clinic represent West Virginia veterans for free in litigation before administrative agencies and courts on benefits, discharge upgrades, employment claims and other civil matters. The clinic also works with U.S. Attorneys’ offices in the state to provide representation for veterans with petty offenses.

Attorney Jed Nolan is the program director of the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic. He will split his time between the Charleston office and the main clinic at the WVU College of Law in Morgantown. Student attorneys in the clinic will continue to work out of the College of Law and travel to Charleston as needed.

1L Novak wins BLSA award in honor of Justice Cleckley

WVU Law student Kinsey Novak

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Incoming student Kinsey Novak is the recipient of a $1500 book stipend from the Black Law Students Association at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Applicants for the stipend submitted an essay discussing a court opinion written by the late Franklin D. Cleckley, the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. 

Cleckley, a longtime WVU law professor, served on the state’s Supreme Court from 1994 to 1996 and authored more than 100 majority opinions. He passed away in August 2017.

Novak, who begins her 1L year at WVU Law this month, won for her essay examining Cleckley’s 1996 decision in State ex rel. Suriano v. Gaughan (198 W. Va. 339, 480 S.E.2d 548).

Summer externs are gaining valuable work experience

WVU Law 2021 Summer Externs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. —  A group of WVU Law students has spent their summer working alongside practicing attorneys and judges, gaining real-world legal training.

The summer externship course at WVU Law allows law students to earn credit for 10 weeks of work in a variety of legal settings across the state. As they provide support to the legal offices in which they work, students apply what they learn in the classroom to hone valuable lawyering skills. 

“Externships are an excellent way for students to work on real cases and get relevant legal training in a government, judicial or public interest setting,” said Jennifer Powell, externship course instructor and director of the Center for Law and Public Service. “Students say their legal research and writing skills improve and that they get a chance to build their professional networks.”

The WVU Law summer 2021 externs are:

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