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W.Va. high court to hear arguments in Wheeling


The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will return to the institution’s roots when justices hear oral arguments in the third-floor courtroom at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling next week.

Members of the West Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Independence Hall in Wheeling. Seated, from left, are Justice Robin Jean Davis, Chief Justice Allen Loughry and Justice Margaret Workman. Standing, from left, are Justice Menis Ketchum and Justice Beth Walker.
(Submitted photo)

According to state records, the court’s original members organized in the building at the corner of 16th and Market streets on July 9, 1863. With about 170 high school students expected to observe, current Justices Allen Loughry, Robin Jean Davis, Margaret Workman, Menis Ketchum and Beth Walker will hear oral arguments in two cases at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The visit to Wheeling is part of the court’s Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students programs. Since the program began in 1999, about 5,700 high school and college students in 33 counties have participated.

“For many, the judicial branch is the least understood branch of government, and (this) is a way for us to show our citizens how it works,” Loughry, the court’s chief justice, said. “Independence Hall was chosen as the location this year to enhance students’ understanding of the founding not only of the state, but the judiciary.”

According to Debbie Jones, site manager at the hall, about 170 high school students from Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central Catholic and The Linsly School will attend. She said this will leave space for about 30 members of the public, adding those interested will be admitted in order of their arrival.

Jones said the justices will have security with them, while West Virginia State Police troopers will also be on site.

“I would really like to make this an annual event that we could open up to students from all over the state,” she said. “It’s important to give the students both a sense of history, as well as knowledge of how the court system works.”

Rick Marsh, chair of the social studies department at Wheeling Park, said the school will send about 100 seniors to the event.

“We are excited for them to see the process of how these things actually happen. It is one thing to tell the kids about it, but another thing (for them) to see it,” he said.

The two cases on the docket for Wednesday are State of West Virginia v. Michael L. Blickenstaff — an appeal from Jefferson County Circuit Court, in which the defendant was convicted of felony kidnapping; and Kevin Hanson v. Larry Keeling Jr. — an appeal of a civil case from Kanawha County Circuit Court involving damages related to a motor vehicle crash.

“We want to convey to students how important the judicial branch is to their lives,”Loughry said. “Even if students personally have never been involved in a court case, they should know how our branch of government can and does work on their behalf.”

Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott and Vice Mayor Chad Thalman recognized the historic significance of the court holding an official session at the hall.

“No city is more important to West Virginia history than Wheeling, and no building played a bigger role than Independence Hall. So obviously, it’s terrific to see the Supreme Court using this backdrop to conduct its regular business and give local students an opportunity to see the judicial process in action,” Elliott said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the citizens of Wheeling and local high school students to witness how the Supreme Court works,” Thalman added.

See more from The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

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