By September 7, 2017 Read More →

West Virginia Supreme Court in session at Independence Hall in Wheeling

By CASEY JUNKINS

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Park High School seniors Miyah Kureishy and Sierra Donaldson said their interest in law grew after listening to attorneys present arguments Wednesday before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals at Independence Hall in Wheeling.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum reacts to an attorney’s comments during a Wednesday hearing at Independence Hall in Wheeling.
(Intelligencer photo by Casey Jenkins)

Kureishy and Donaldson were among about 170 high school seniors from Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central Catholic high schools and The Linsly School who participated in the court’s Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students program, which culminated Wednesday with the five justices hearing oral arguments at the historic building in which the high court’s original members organized on July 9, 1863.

“I definitely want to become a lawyer,” Kureishy said afterward. “I thought this was super educational. It’s a great opportunity for high school students to get real-world experience.”

Although Donaldson said she probably will not study law in college, she found her participation in the program valuable.

“It certainly sparked my interest in the law,” she said.

Justices heard arguments in two cases: 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.

“These are real lawyers who have spent hundreds of hours on these cases,” Wheeling lawyer Robert Fitzsimmons, whose firm assisted the students throughout the program, told the students Wednesday. “This is a real-life situation. A lot of times, you hear criticisms about lawyers being ambulance chasers and such. This is what we do.”

Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said he hoped the students gained valuable knowledge from the program.

“This is a great introduction for them. Even if they don’t have any interest in studying law, this helps them understand real-life situations,” Smith said.

After the proceedings, students joined the justices at River City Restaurant for lunch. Chief Justice Allen Loughry said he enjoyed holding court at the building in which West Virginia was born.

“It was an absolutely fascinating experience,” he said. “I am truly humbled to bring the court to this building.”

Justices Margaret Workman and Robin Jean Davis said they always enjoy meeting with students to help them learn how the court process works.

“I hope they learned a lot,” Workman said.

Davis said the court began the program while under her leadership as chief justice in 1998.

“It’s both a great way to help the students understand what we do, as well as an exciting experience for us,” she said.

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