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WVU Law Big XII Fellow Researches TX and WV Criminal Justice Systems

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University College of Law Professor Valena Beety recently spent two weeks in residence at the University of Texas School of Law as part of the Big XII Faculty Fellowship Program. 

She was one of just six WVU faculty who were selected to participate in the program this year.

The Big XII Faculty Fellowship Program was created to stimulate scholarly initiatives through creation of an academic community within the institutions in the Big XII Athletic Conference.

As a Big XII Fellow, Beety researched the growing roles of clemency and forensic science in the Texas and West Virginia state criminal justice systems. Her research included a focus on executive and judicial clemency and forensic findings in capital punishment cases. Texas has executed more inmates than any other state. There is no death penalty in West Virginia.

Beety’s findings on judicial clemency in Texas evidenced that dismissals are less a conflict between state judges and prosecutors, but instead between the courts and the legislature. Her research was conducted with UT Law professors Jordan Steiker, a nationally renowned expert on the death penalty, and Jennifer Laurin, a scholar of criminal justice reform.

At the end of her residency, Beety presented her finding at a UT Law colloquium attended by faculty, judges, and prosecutors.

The Big XII Faculty Fellowship Program offers faculty the opportunity to travel to member institutions to exchange ideas and research. Faculty may work on collaborative research, consult with faculty and students, offer a series of lectures or symposia, acquire new skills, or take advantage of a unique archive or laboratory facility.

Beety is in her second year as a tenure-track associate professor of law at WVU. She is Chair of the West Virginia Innocence Project and Deputy Director of the Clinical Law Program. She also teaches Criminal Procedure and Post-Conviction Remedies. 

This year, Beety has published three law review articles on the death penalty and eyewitness misidentification, a leading contributor to wrongful convictions.

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