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Professor Beety wins faculty scholarship award

Professor Valena Beety

Professor Valena Beety is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Significant Scholarship Award at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Beety, an associate professor of law, won the award for her article “Judicial Dismissal in the Interest of Justice,” published last year in the Missouri Law Review (Volume 80, Issue 3). In the article, Beety examined the capacity of judges to grant clemency, or dismiss cases, in the interest of justice.

According to Beety, most of the country’s 1.6 million inmates are serving sentences for non-violent offenses. She argues that by making judges more accountable, they can dismiss some cases based on overzealous prosecutions, race-based patrolling, and the overuse of “three strikes” laws.

Beety looked at factors such as community impact, prosecutorial misconduct, safety and welfare of the community, and a conviction’s effect on public confidence in the criminal justice system. She proposed reform of the criminal justice system and practical assistance for individual cases and lives.

Opinion: Senate should vote on Garland nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court

Professor Alison Peck

This week, I and 14 other law professors from West Virginia University sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., urging her and her Senate colleagues to vote on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court. 

      The letter to Senator Capito 

Writing in our individual capacities as West Virginia citizens and as legal scholars familiar with the Constitution and its separation of powers principles, we ask that Senator Capito urge Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to hold hearings and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on whether to confirm Chief Judge Garland’s nomination. The Senate should move now to fulfill its constitutional duty to decide whether to consent to the president’s nomination.

The Appointments Clause states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court.” The “Appointments Clause” appears in Article II of the Constitution, which sets out the powers of the Executive branch. (A separate section, Article I, pertains to the powers of Congress.) The Constitution clearly gives the President, not the Senate, the power to appoint Supreme Court justices. The Senate’s role is limited to advice and consent. That role cannot be understood in a way that strips the president of his constitutional appointment power.

Clinic clients granted clemency by President Obama

Adriana Faycurry

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—Last week (March 30, 20156), President Barack Obama granted clemency to 61 federal prisoners. Three of them are clients of student attorneys working in the Clinical Law Program at the West Virginia University College of Law.

“To obtain a Presidential pardon on behalf of a client is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and experience for any attorney,” said Valena Beety, associate professor of law and director of the West Virginia Innocence Project at WVU. “For our law students to have accomplished this feat is incredible; I am proud of our clients for who they are, and proud of our students for the hard work they put into their petitions and advocating for their clients.”

Third-year law student Adriana Faycurry (left) worked with Dwayne Walker, a man who was 24 years old when he was sentenced in 1997 to mandatory life without parole for selling crack cocaine.  Walker has been a model prisoner who writes children’s books, creates plans for a non-profit for inner city kids, and has multiple vocational certifications. 

Faycurry drafted Walker’s executive summary and clemency petition with assistance from Beety and Italia Patti, the Franklin D. Cleckley Fellow at the College of Law. 

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