West Virginia Supreme Court justices hear three cases in front of students, community members at Marshall University

West+Virginia+Supreme+Court+Justice+Evan+H.+Jenkins%2C+Justice+Margaret+L.+Workman%2C+Chief+Justice+Elizabeth+D.+Walker%2C+Justice+Tim+Armstead+and+Justice+John+A.+Hutchinson+pledge+allegiance+to+the+U.S.+flag+while+meeting+at+the+Joan+C.+Edwards+Performing+Arts+Center+to+hear+cases+in+front+of+a+group+of+students+and+community+members+Sept.+11%2C+2019.
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West Virginia Supreme Court justices hear three cases in front of students, community members at Marshall University

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Evan H. Jenkins, Justice Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice Elizabeth D. Walker, Justice Tim Armstead and Justice John A. Hutchinson pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag while meeting at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center to hear cases in front of a group of students and community members Sept. 11, 2019.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Evan H. Jenkins, Justice Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice Elizabeth D. Walker, Justice Tim Armstead and Justice John A. Hutchinson pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag while meeting at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center to hear cases in front of a group of students and community members Sept. 11, 2019.

Blake Newhouse

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Evan H. Jenkins, Justice Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice Elizabeth D. Walker, Justice Tim Armstead and Justice John A. Hutchinson pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag while meeting at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center to hear cases in front of a group of students and community members Sept. 11, 2019.

Blake Newhouse

Blake Newhouse

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Evan H. Jenkins, Justice Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice Elizabeth D. Walker, Justice Tim Armstead and Justice John A. Hutchinson pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag while meeting at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center to hear cases in front of a group of students and community members Sept. 11, 2019.

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West Virginia’s Supreme Court came to Marshall University’s campus to hold public oral arguments Wednesday morning to give the public an inside look into how the court operates.

“This is critically important for our system of government that the public has trust in that they are going to get a fair shake in the courts. That’s why we are open, we are transparent, and we are here so the public can see what we do,” said Evan Jenkins, West Virginia Supreme Court justice.

High school students and community members were invited to the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center to experience how the Supreme Court of Appeals conducts its hearings. 

All five Supreme Court justices were present to hear cases before the audience filled with students and community members. After the justices heard cases, they attended a meet and greet with students to answer any questions they may have about the judicial branch.

The Supreme Court of Appeals heard three cases: Fairmont State University v. Division of Justice and Community Services, State of West Virginia v. Ryan Ashley Hubbs, and Arthur Patton v. County of Berkeley, West Virginia and Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy John Cardello. 

The public hearings, which lasted for two hours, used the majority of the time discussing the case Fairmont State v. Division of Justice and Community Services.

In 2016, Fairmont State University filed an application with the Law Enforcement Police Subcommittee (LEPS) attempting to obtain approval for an entry level police training academy for students who complete specific requirements through FSU’s criminal justice program.

Students within the criminal justice program at FSU would require candidates to undergo a four-year commitment to the field of criminal justice, with the academy portion of the training being completed during one semester of their senior year.

After submission, LEPS took no action on the FSU application, claiming there was not a need for the academy because the West Virginia State Police Academy “fully meets the needs of the demand for the training and certification of entry level officers within the state.”

Rebecca Pomeroy, the attorney representing FSU, claimed that the university’s program met all the standards for approval from LEPS, including the 800 hours of basic training that is required for certification with the law enforcement agency, and should therefore be approved by the subcommittee.

The program was proposed during a time when many police departments around the state are reportedly struggling to find new recruits. 

“The plan proposed by Fairmont State University makes sense,” Pomeroy said. “You have this situation where smaller communities in West Virginia are in dire need of police officers. So, at the end of the day, why is it a bad thing for police officers to be certified with a four-year college degree?”

Towards the end of the event, multiple justices expressed how grateful they were to be able to serve on the highest court in West Virginia’s Judiciary branch, including Jenkins.

“It’s an honor to serve on our Supreme Court, and especially to have the whole court down here on Marshall’s campus so the students and community can come see the court in action,” Jenkins said. 

Blake Newhouse can be contacted at [email protected]

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