The NedPower wind turbine project at Mount Storm is the first case that will be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday as it convenes for the 2007 LAWS program.
Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students is a partnership between the court system, schools, the local bar associations and the community. The program helps teach high school and college students about the legal system.
Local attorneys, circuit judges and Supreme Court staff, working with teachers in local school systems, help students study individual cases and then students attend the oral arguments in the cases.
Tuesday, the justices will bring the court to the Hampshire County Courthouse, where 22nd Circuit Court Judge Donald H. Cookman will host the event.
Students from Pendleton, Hardy and Hampshire county high schools, as well as from Potomac State College, will attend four hearings scheduled throughout the day.
Hardy County Commissioners Roger Champ, J.R. Keplinger and Stanley Moyer have postponed their regular commission meeting for a day in order to be able to attend the event.
“This is an important program for students to be able to see and hear firsthand how the State Supreme Court works,” said Moyer, who noted the Romney courthouse was selected because it is the only one in the three counties of the circuit that can accommodate the number of students and others expected to attend.
At 10 a.m., the court will convene and students from Moorefield High School will hear arguments in Jerome E. Burch et al. v. NedPower Mount Storm et al.
The hearing stems from an appeal of a ruling by Judge Phil Jordan in the 21st Judicial Circuit of Grant County, who dismissed a citizens case against the project, ruling that his court had no jurisdiction in the matter since the Public Service Commission had already granted a permit for NedPower to construct a wind farm adjacent to the Mount Storm Power Plant. He said that the PSC had exclusive jurisdiction over the issues raised in the suit.
Burch and other of his Mount Storm neighbors had filed suit to stop the project. Former Supreme Court Justice Richard Neely represented the citizens in their petition and filed the appeal on their behalf.
Work on the project has continued despite the pending appeal hearing before the high court and is expected to be completed later this year.
At 10:45 a.m., students from Potomac State College will hear arguments in the State of W.Va. v. Denver A. Youngblood Jr., while at 12:45 p.m. students from East Hardy High School and Pendleton County High School will hear arguments in Hartley Hill Hunt Club et al v. County Commission of Ritchie County et al.
The final hearing of the day at 1:30 p.m. will have students from Hampshire County High School, the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, and Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College hearing arguments in the State of W.Va. v. Brian Daniel Murphy.
Following each case, students will meet with the attorneys who argued the case. The attorneys and students also will eat lunch with Cookman and the justices.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis began the LAWS program in 1999. Since then, more than 2,400 high school and college students in 14 counties have participated.
The students participating in Tuesday’s event will later receive copies of the Supreme Court opinion rendered in each of the cases they study.
Case summaries and briefs of the four cases along with other LAWS educational materials are available on the West Virginia Supreme Court Web site at http://www.state.wv.us/wvsca/LAWS/lawsCover.htm.
By Mona Ridder
15 April 2007
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