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West Virginia Law Review symposium to explore flawed forensics

West Virginia Law Review Symposium

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — When justice hinges on forensic evidence, the science behind it must be flawless. But that is not always the case, according to the editors of the West Virginia Law Review

Juries often hear testimony on forms of forensic evidence that are not as scientifically sound as DNA testing. This branch of forensics includes hair, bite mark and shoe print comparisons. Add the fabrication of results and improper expert testimony and the outcome of a trial can be a wrongful conviction.

On March 3 and 4, the West Virginia Law Review is holding a symposium at the West Virginia University College of Law to explore the use of flawed forensics in the criminal justice system. Participants include national experts from higher education, the legal community, and advocacy groups. 

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

West Virginia Supreme Court to hear cases at WVU Law on March 1

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia will convene at the West Virginia University College of Law on Tuesday, March 1, to hear four 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.

In their first case, the Justices will hear arguments concerning the wrongful death of Avishek Sengupta in a 2013 “tough mudder” competition in Gerrardstown, West Virginia. Tough Mudder, LLC is appealing a decision by the Circuit Court of Marshall County to deny a motion to compel arbitration.

The next case to be heard by the Justices will be The City of Morgantown v. Nuzum Trucking Company, et al. The city is appealing a circuit court order that overturned a weight ordinance that would limit certain truck traffic in downtown Morgantown.

Professor Taylor's reflections on Justice Scalia

Professor John Taylor

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—Following the February 13 passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, WVU Law professor John Taylor, who teaches Constitutional Law, provided the following insight and reflections:

Justice Scalia’s Influence and Legacy

Justice Antonin Scalia will be remembered as one of the more significant Justices in the modern history of the Court. He was the intellectual leader of the Court’s conservative wing during a 30-year period when the Court moved to the right on many issues, and his ideas have influenced the terms of constitutional debate across the political spectrum.

Justice Scalia described himself as an “originalist” in constitutional interpretation, though his brand of originalism was leavened with a dose of pragmatism and (usually) respect for long-settled precedents. (“Faint-hearted originalism,” he called it.) In statutory interpretation, he stressed the primacy of the text and distrusted reliance on legislative history and legislative purposes. He brought heightened intellectual respectability to both originalism and textualism, and even his adversaries have been influenced by his positions. Originalist and textual arguments are a good deal more common in the Court’s opinions today than they were when Justice Scalia joined it. 

Justice Scalia saw himself as a proponent of judicial restraint who believed that most important decisions ought to be left to the political process (though his critics would dispute that characterization in areas like affirmative action), and for this reason he favored bright-line rules over balancing tests when crafting constitutional doctrine. He was of course a conservative jurist in most respects, but occasionally surprised his critics by taking unexpected positions (especially in the law of criminal procedure). He will perhaps be most fondly remembered for his lively writing style.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with his positions, his opinions were engaging, often memorable, and rarely dull. He will be missed.

What happens next?

The Court’s docket this terms includes several highly visible and politically contentious cases that have not yet been decided in areas including affirmative action, abortion rights, and immigration.

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