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INTRODUCING THE WEST VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW ONLINE

As the only law review in our state, the West Virginia Law Review takes seriously its obligation to serve both academia and our state’s legal community. We serve those interests by publishing articles that are nationally relevant along with articles that address issues in West Virginia. Historically, this Law Review has published special issues such as the National Coal Issue and the Energy and Sustainability Issue, reflecting the unquestioned importance of those areas of law to our state. However, we recognize that our state’s legal community is well-served by academic analysis of all areas of law. We also recognize that research specific to West Virginia can be difficult to find through major commercial avenues. As such, Volume 117 of the West Virginia Law Review is proud to launch the West Virginia Law Review Online.

Emergence from Civil Death: The Evolution of Expungement in West Virginia

Ninety-two million Americans have a criminal record—nearly one in three adults. 1 This criminal record can include an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, a conviction for which the person did not serve time in prison, or a conviction for a non-violent crime. 2 All can have a similar impact on an individual’s job prospects and on local economies. Incarcerating adult Americans costs a combined $68 billion annually at the local, state, and federal levels. 3 The cost of lost wages and lost financial contributions to society by ex-offenders is even higher.

This financially immobilized population of former offenders may be permanently unemployable. In response, a majority of states have created statutes to permit select offenders a new chance. 4 These states grant that after a waiting period and good behavior, ex-offenders may apply to have their convictions sealed or “set aside.” 5 These expungements remove the conviction from public records, lifting the stigma and the resulting barriers to employment. 6

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The Tape Never Lies: Recording Police Interrogations to Reduce False Confessions in West Virginia

– The Honorable O.C. “Hobby” Spaulding, Putnam County, West Virginia, Circuit Court Judge 1

Twenty-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, sits alone in an Italian police station interrogation room. Days earlier, on November 2, 2007, her roommate Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, was found brutally murdered—Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are the prime suspects. 2 Over the next few days, Knox is heavily interrogated by several Italian police officers when suddenly, on November 5th, the case breaks. 3 Alone, without an attorney, without food or sleep, and speaking in a language she is not entirely fluent in, Amanda Knox confesses—at 1:45 am and 5:45 am—to murdering her roommate. 4 Her confession, despite an Italian law mandating it, is not recorded. 5 As Amanda Knox vehemently maintained her innocence throughout her ordeal, 6 it begs the question—why confess to a crime you never committed?

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Arbitration, Incorporation, and Forum Selection: Recent Developments in West Virginia Common Law on Contracts

West Virginia’s economy is growing, and faster than the national rate. 1 To support the increased business activity and encourage additional commerce, West Virginia’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, has been proactively improving the state’s common law regarding contracts. In the past couple of years, the court has clarified its position on arbitration clauses, incorporation by reference of auxiliary documents, and forum selection clauses. Further, these decrees have conformed to federal authority and helped establish “a predictable, uniform, and reasonable set of legal standards under which individuals and businesses may commercially flourish.” 2 West Virginia’s common law on contracts is now more predictable, equitable, and valuable. 

This Essay explores three areas of contract law that have been recently developed by the West Virginia Supreme Court. Part II surveys the current jurisprudence on arbitration clauses in West Virginia following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Marmet Health Care Center v. Brown. 3 Part III analyzes State ex rel. U-Haul Co. of West Virginia v. Zakaib, 4 which announced the requirements for an accessory document to be incorporated by reference into a contract. Part IV reviews Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. 5 and the West Virginia Supreme Court’s adoption of an intricate four-part test for enforceability of a forum selection clause. Each section concludes with practical advice on how to achieve a desired outcome—whether judicial enforcement of an arbitration clause, incorporation of an auxiliary document, or enforcement of a forum selection clause—through contract drafting and contemporaneous behavior.

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