Since joining the WVU Law faculty in 2012, Associate Professor Valena Beety’s passion for justice has made a significant impact on her students, fellow faculty members, and the legal community.
Professor Beety’s expertise is in criminal procedure, causes of wrongful convictions, and post-conviction litigation. She is the deputy director of the Clinical Law Program and chair of the West Virginia Innocence Project, a clinic that provides free legal representation to individuals seeking to prove their innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted.
The West Virginia Innocence Project recently won the release of an innocent man. It also successfully won the right for new DNA testing in a controversial rape case. With retired judge O.C. Spaulding, the WV Innocence Project is also working on legislation to mandate the recording of the entire police interrogation process.
In spring 2014, Professor Beety was elected to the Board of Directors of the Innocence Network, which represents organizations in 46 states and several countries. In 2013, she was awarded a Big XII Fellowship and spent two weeks in residency at the University of Texas School of Law. The focus of her research was the growing roles of clemency and forensic science in Texas and West Virginia.
Professor Beety is widely published and a frequent presenter at national conferences. She is the lead professor in the creation of WVU Law’s groundbreaking LL.M. in Forensic Justice, which will be offered starting fall 2015. It is the only LL.M. of its kind in the country.
Professor Beety earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago, where she also received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology. While in law school, she was a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and she worked at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project as well as at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she focused on sexual violence in the genocide.
After law school, Professor Beety clerked for the Honorable Chief Judge James G. Carr of the Northern District of Ohio ( who spoke at WVU Law in spring 2014), and for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she prosecuted domestic violence crimes and other crimes of violence, first-chairing seventeen jury and bench trials to verdict. Prior to her appointment at West Virginia University School of Law, she was an adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law and Senior Staff Attorney for the Mississippi Innocence Project.