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WVU Law Professor Shares International War Crimes Experience

Cody Corliss

This spring, WVU Law students and members of the West Virginia State Bar have been learning about international and domestic terrorism from former international war crimes prosecutor Cody Corliss, a Wetzel County native who returned to West Virginia to join the College of Law faculty last August.

Prior to coming to WVU Law, Professor Corliss served in the Office of the Prosecutor at a United Nations criminal tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands. He was a member of the team that secured the conviction of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.  

Corliss spoke to judges and practicing lawyers at the West Virginia State Bar 2023 Annual Meeting this spring and also taught a new law school seminar focusing on terrorism.

“What’s nice for me is that my talk for the bar and my scholarship dovetail really nicely with the seminar I’m teaching on domestic and international terrorism,” said Corliss, who holds degrees from Harvard University, Universiteit Leiden, and Cornell University. Fourteen students took the introductory terrorism seminar.

Before joining the United Nations, Corliss worked as a litigation associate at K&L Gates LLP in Pittsburgh and served as a clerk to Justice Margaret L. Workman of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Corliss said his current scholarship focuses on social media as a way to terrorize, particularly through posts that depict brutality as tacit threats to the civilian population. A law review article on “digital terror crimes” is forthcoming in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

Thomas Miles, a 2L student from Clarksburg who took the new seminar this semester, counts Corliss among his favorite WVU Law professors, adding that his biggest takeaway from the course was the nebulous definition of “terrorism” across legal jurisdictions.

“Courts are quick to recognize an act as terrorism but no one seems to want to define it,” Miles said. “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.”

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