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West Virginia Supreme Court to hear cases at WVU Law on March 4

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia will convene at the West Virginia University College of Law on Wednesday, March 4, to hear five cases. The hearings will begin at 10 a.m. in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom. Admission is free and open to the public. Seating begins at 9 a.m.

The first case to go before the court will be SER Ralph A. Lorenzetti, Jr., Prosecuting Attorney v. Honorable David H. Sanders, Judge; and Elizabeth Shanton. In this case, the prosecuting attorney seeks a writ of prohibition challenging a Circuit Court order dismissing 53 of 54 counts against Elizabeth Shanton. Shanton has been indicted on 53 counts of fraudulent or unauthorized use of a State Purchasing Card and one count of fraudulent schemes.

The second case is Gary W. Rich v. Joseph Simoni, et al. It deals with the following question certified by the District Court: Are the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct statements of public policy with the force of law equal to that given to statutes enacted by the West Virginia Legislature?

WVU launching nation's first LL.M. in forensic justice

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA— West Virginia University is launching a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in  forensic justice, beginning fall 2015. It is the only LL.M. of its kind in the United States currently accepted by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The one-year program is a collaboration between the WVU College of Law and the  Department of Forensic and Investigative Science in the  Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. WVU’s competitive and highly-regarded FIS program is one of the first accredited in the world.

WVU Provost  Joyce McConnell initiated the creation of the forensic justice LL.M. during her recent tenure as dean of the WVU College of Law.

“Forensic evidence is assuming an increasingly important role in both our civil and criminal justice systems,” she said. “This new degree will help judges and lawyers understand the field of forensic science and better integrate it into the adversary system. That integration absolutely improves the system—and is essential to justice.”

McClatchy Names Billie S. McConkey as Vice President, Human Resources

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) today named Billie S. McConkey as vice president, human resources.

A practicing labor and employment attorney, McConkey, 44, has provided legal counsel to three different news companies over her 20-year career. Since 2006, she has served as special employment counsel to McClatchy, providing guidance on labor and employment issues. She begins her new role March 9 as the company’s top human resources executive and a member of McClatchy’s senior management team.

“Billie has a long history of working with our markets in the area of employee relations and has a deep understanding of our culture,” said McClatchy President and CEO Pat Talamantes. “Leaders both at corporate and in our markets have tremendous confidence in Billie’s judgment, resourcefulness and work ethic. I couldn’t be happier to have her lead our dedicated team of human resources professionals.”

Born and raised in Charleston, W.Va., McConkey earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and her law degree from West Virginia University’s College of Law, where she graduated first in her class and was executive editor of the West Virginia Law Review. She moved to Arizona in 1995 to begin her legal career, working in private practice and specializing in employment issues.

Climate change panel to discuss West Virginia-China connection

James Van Nostrand

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—A panel discussion at the West Virginia University College of Law will explore China’s climate change policy and how the world’s most populous country is connected to West Virginia by carbon emissions and global warming.

“Climate Change, China, and the West Virginia Connection” will be held in the College of Law event hall on Thursday, February 12, from 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

The panelists will be Sarah Forbes, senior associate and energy and China specialist with the World Resources Institute, and Jerry Fletcher, environmental and natural resources economics professor and director of WVU’s US-China Energy Center.

The discussion moderator will be Ben Gilmer, project manager with Downstream Strategies, an environmental consulting firm based in Morgantown. Attorney Sam Petsonk, former energy policy staff member for the late Senator Robert C. Byrd, will also make remarks. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Grant to law clinic is supporting community revitalization program

The West Virginia University College of Law is using a $120,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to help revitalize cities and towns in the state.

Awarded to the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, the grant is supporting a program called West Virginia Legal Education to Address Abandoned/Neglected Properties, or WV LEAP. Through the program, clinic attorneys and students will help communities deal with decaying, abandoned, or uninhabitable buildings.

According to Katherine Garvey, director of the LUSD Law Clinic, neglected properties can be difficult for municipalities to address because of a lack of clarity on applicable laws, problems locating property owners and legal complexities related to property titles.

With WV LEAP, Garvey hopes to provide state municipalities with the tools and strategies available to them through technical legal assistance.

During the spring and summer of 2015, the LUSD Law Clinic will compile data and conduct legal research that will be made available to municipal attorneys as a resource on specific steps communities can utilize to combat problems of abandoned or decaying properties.

Emphasis will also be placed on educational outreach initiatives. The WV LEAP team will conduct a Continuing Legal Education session for West Virginia attorneys on May 14 in Charleston.

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