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2024 Speaker Bios

Panel 1

L. Richard Walker

L. Richard Walker, Esq. — Richard is the First Assistant at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of West Virginia. Richard joined the office in 2003 as an Assistant Federal Public Defender and then assumed the role of Senior Litigator. Previously, Richard worked in Miami, Florida, as an associate at the firm Black Srebnick, which specializes in the defense of complex criminal and civil cases. From 1998 to 2001, Richard served as an Assistant Public Defender for the Dade County Public Defender Office in Miami, Florida. Richard graduated from the Temple University School of Law in 1998 where he was the Editor-In-Chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. In 1995, Richard earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. Richard has worked as an Adjunct Instructor at the West Virginia University College of Law and for almost a decade he coached law students on various trial teams there. Richard speaks Spanish.

Shawn Adkins

Shawn Adkins — Shawn M. Adkins is an Associate Attorney in the Cybersecurity, Information Privacy and Data Security practice group at the law firm of Cipriani & Werner. In this role, he assists his clients with responding to an array of matters including ransomware attacks, business email compromises, network intrusions, and third-party data breaches. He represents clients in a variety of industries within both the public and private sectors, including educational institutions, state/local governments, healthcare companies, financial institutions, private businesses, and non-profits. He helps his clients navigate the complexities of an incident response, from leading the investigation and developing a communications strategy to determining what obligations the incident may impose upon organizations based on state and federal law. He also assists clients with preparing for and responding to state and federal regulatory inquiries.

Prior to joining Cipriani & Werner, Shawn spent nearly eight and a half years an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in Northern District of West Virginia’s Martinsburg and Wheeling offices where he handled a wide range of federal criminal cases, including drug distribution, firearms trafficking, computer crimes, immigration offenses, identity theft, and fraud. Shawn first joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2014 as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) in the Clarksburg office. In addition to his responsibilities as an AUSA, he served as the District’s National Security Cyber Specialist, Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Prosecutor, and Opioid Coordinator. Shawn was designated as a SAUSA in the Southern District of Ohio which aided in his handling of drug prosecutions for the Marshall County, Ohio Valley, and Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug Task Forces. Shawn was also assigned to the District’s Drug Court Committee, where he reviewed Drug Court applications and regularly participated in Drug Court meetings and hearings with the District Court in Wheeling. He is the recipient of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Director’s Award for West Virginia Opiate Reduction Efforts and Wheeling Criminal Division “Team Player Award.” Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, he served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Harrison County, West Virginia, from 2011-2015.

Shawn is a native of Bridgeport, West Virginia, and a 2004 graduate of Bridgeport High School. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Finance and Economics (Cum Laude) from Marshall University in 2008 and a Law Degree (Cum Laude) from the Cooley Law School in 2011, where he served as a Senior Associate Editor of the Law Review. Shawn, his wife, Amanda, and two children reside in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Aaron Moss

Aaron Moss — Moss joined the Federal Public Defender Office as an attorney in 2016. Prior to working as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, Aaron practiced law as a post graduate fellow at Mountain State Justice representing incarcerated individuals in federal and state 1983 actions on civil rights issues. His civil rights work was featured in The Nation. Aaron graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 2015 with Pro Bono Distinction, where he served as the President of Public Interest Advocates. He received his bachelor's degree from James Madison University.  

Belinda Haynie — Belinda Haynie is a solo practitioner with an emphasis on State and Federal Criminal defense. Over her career, Belinda has tried 35 criminal jury trials. Belinda was an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Monongalia County from 1995-2001. Belinda graduated from Marshall University in 1990 with a B.S. in Political science, and then from WVU College of Law in 1993. 

Daniel Aaron of University of Utah

Daniel Aaron — Dr. Daniel G. Aaron is an Associate Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah.  He received his JD from Harvard Law School and his MD from the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. Professor Aaron’s research examines how the law shapes life and death in the United States and the legal and social trends that explain the fall in American life expectancy.  This involves studying breakdowns in regulatory and legal systems that contribute to American mortality and wrestling with how to repair them.  To this end, he has published articles on the intersection of food and drug law, administrative law, tort and multi-district litigation, tobacco, racial inequity, corporate power, regulatory capture, and recently, opioid litigation. 

Prior to joining the faculty of the S.J. Quinney School of Law, Professor Aaron clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit with Judge John K. Bush. Before that, he served as Assistant Chief Counsel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. During that time, he was also a Heyman Fellow at Harvard Law School, and he is a member of the Justice Initiative, a collaboration between Harvard Law School and Howard University School of Law aimed at providing law students a community space to discuss the intersection of race, justice, and the law.

Panel 2

Clayton Fitzsimmons

Clayton Fitzsimmons — Attorney Clayton Fitzsimmons graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2008 and received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 2005. Clayton concentrates his practices on representing workers injured on the job and family members of workers who have been killed in a workplace injury. He has experience in litigating "deliberate intention" claims against employers, as well as coal mining accidents, oil and gas accidents and explosions, construction accidents, industrial accidents, and workplace accidents. He also represents workers who have developed lung cancer and mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos or other injuries as a result of toxic exposure. In addition to this, Clayton focuses his practices on representing consumers injured by defective prescription drugs and medical devices. Clayton also routinely represents clients in claims involving trucking and tractor-trailer accidents. 

Clayton was selected for membership into The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 for West Virginia after practicing for only 4 years in 2012. In 2013, Clayton was selected again as one of the Top 40 Trial Lawyers in West Virginia under 40. This membership is invitation only and reserved exclusively for those who have exemplified superior qualifications, as well as results and leadership. In 2013, Clayton was also selected by his peers as a Super Lawyers Rising Star for West Virginia for general personal injury litigation. Clayton currently resides in his hometown of Wheeling, WV with his wife, three daughters, and two rescue dogs.

Mark Colantonio

Mark Colantonio — Attorney Mark Colantonio received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University in 1983. He graduated with honors at the top of his engineering class. Mark obtained his Juris Doctor in 1986 from West Virginia University where he graduated second in his class and earned the distinction of Order of the Coif. While in law school, Mark was also a member of the West Virginia Law Review. Mark represents individuals injured in and affected by workplace accidents, catastrophic injuries, product defects, construction and industrial accidents, coal mining and gas drilling accidents, explosions, electrical injuries, and defective prescription drugs and medical devices. Mark also devotes a large portion of his practice to representing individuals and businesses against insurance companies, class actions, complex civil litigation, and complex commercial litigation. Mark has tried verdict cases in various state and federal courts in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

He has successfully argued cases before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. He has also been named as a West Virginia Super Lawyer by his peers every year since 2010. Mark resides in his hometown of Weirton, West Virginia with his wife and two children.

Panel 3

Judge Aloi

Judge Aloi —  Hon. Michael J. Aloi, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia was born in the small coal mining town of Farmington, WV, and the grandson of Italian immigrants. He graduated from the WVU College of Law as the only member of his class to receive Order of the Coif, Order of the Barristers and the Patrick Duffy Koontz award for leadership, scholarship, and character. 

Thereafter he established the partnership of Manchin and Aloi with his cousin, Tim Manchin, where he practiced for the next 28 years. He was one of the founders of the Mediation movement in WV and mediated over 2500 cases and is the only WV lawyer to be a member of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators. He was AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards. He served as President of the WV State Bar and CHair of the WV State Bar ADR committee. He was selected as pro bono lawyer of the year by the WVU College of Law. 

In 2011 he was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to serve as a Circuit Judge for Marion County and thereafter was elected in 2012. During this time, he served as Chief Judge and also established the first Drug Court in Marion County. 

He was then appointed as a US Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of WV in 2015 and was reappointed to a second term in 2023. As a US Magistrate Judge at the Clarksburg point of holding court , the first Drug court was established in 2017 and he continues to serve as the Drug court Judge. 

He is vice-chair of the WVJLAP (WV Judicial and Lawyers Assistance Program) and a member of the Board of All Rise (formerly the National Association of Drug Court Professionals). He is also certified by SAMSHA as a trainer for “Trauma Informed Responses in the criminal justice system”. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the WV Restorative Justice Group. 

He served as a lawyer supervisor for the WVU law clinic program and thereafter continues to teach at the College of Law . He received the Justitia Officium Award from the WVU College of Law which recognizes outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession, and it is the highest honor bestowed by the faculty.


Jill Henline

Jill Henline Henline is a U.S. Probation Officer for the Northern District of West Virginia. She was instrumental in helping to launch the Drug Court Program in the Clarksburg area. Before beginning her career with U.S. Probation, she worked for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for 13 years and was a treatment specialist in the residential drug abuse program. Jill graduated from Fairmont State College in 2000 with a degree in Criminal Justice and earned her Master's degree in Criminal Justice in 2015 from Fairmont State University. Jill has presented at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference, RX and Illicit Drug Summit (2023) and was the recipient of the U.S. Attorney's Outstanding Financial Investigation Award in 2019.

Beth Gross

Beth Gross — Gross has been an Assistant Public Defender for the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of West Virginia for the past seven years. Beth joined the office in November of 2016 after a three-year stint at the Harrison County State Public Defender office. Some of her notable cases include representing January 6th defendant, George Tanios in Washington D.C., successfully negotiating down 10 felony charges to a plea for two misdemeanors and a sentence of time served. Beth, along with Richard Walker, recently won two federal jury trials in a row, getting two inmates acquitted of Assault on a Correctional Officer. Beth also is the defense member of the Northern District of West Virginia’s Drug Court Treatment Team, and she takes pride in that work most of all. Beth worked as a contract attorney in various large firms in Los Angeles including Foley & Lardner and Crowell & Moring

Previously, Beth worked as a contract attorney in various large firms in Los Angeles including Foley & Lardner and Crowell & Moring. Beth was a graduate of West Virginia University College of Law in 2010 where she received Order of the Barristers and was the winner of the Lugar Cup. Beth earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in 2007, where she was the Student Body Vice-President. Beth is a Mom of two little boys ages 8 and 5 and in her free time, she enjoys the outdoors with her family and serves as a Board Member of the West Virginia Botanic Garden.

Sarah Wagner

Sarah E. Wagner  Wagner has been an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of West Virginia since 2014, focusing on prosecuting white-collar, civil rights, and child exploitation cases. She has served as the drug court liaison for the Clarksburg Drug Court since its inception in 2017.  Sarah is a graduate of the WVU College of Law where she graduated Order of the Coif and was a member of the West Virginia Law Review. Immediately after graduating from law school, she served as a law clerk to Robert B. King, Circuit Judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Burch

Professor Elizabeth Chamblee Burch  Burch has taught at the University of Georgia School of Law since 2011. She also served as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 2017. After holding the Charles H. Kirbo Chair of Law for two years, she assumed the Fuller E. Callaway Chair of Law in 2019. Professor Burch is an award-winning scholar whose groundbreaking work on multi-district litigation and class actions won the American Law Institute's Early Career Scholars Medal in 2015, the Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Professional Responsibility Scholarship in 2016 and the Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award in 2019. 

Professor Burch has published over 40 articles and essays in respected journals across the country. She co-authors a casebook titled The Law of Class Actions and Other Aggregate Litigation with the late Richard A. Nagareda, Robert G. Bone, and Patrick Woolley. She is als the author of Mass Tort Deals: Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation (Cambridge University Press 2019) and her teaching and research interests include civil procedure, class actions and mass torts. She has also delivered over 120 lectures at research institutions across the United States and abroad to diverse audiences--from law professors to federal judges to psychologists. She was elected as a member of the American Law Institute in 2013, and she is a frequent commentator in various international and national news media such as National Public Radio's Marketplace, BBC World News, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. 

Before joining the School of Law's faculty, she was an assistant professor at Florida State University College of Law, where she received the university-wide Graduate Teaching Award and was voted "Professor of the Year" by second- and third-year students. Burch began her academic career in 2006 at Cumberland School of Law, part of Samford University, where she received the Harvey S. Jackson Excellence in Teaching Award and the Lightfoot, Franklin & White Faculty Scholarship Award. In 2014, she received the School of Law's John C. O'Byrne Memorial Award for Significant Contributions Furthering Student-Faculty Relations. Before entering the legal academy, Professor Burch worked as an associate at Holland & Knight in Atlanta, where she practiced in the area of complex litigation, including securities class actions. She has served as the mass torts subcommittee chair for the American Bar Association's Class Action and Derivative Suits Committee, on the executive board for the Association of American Law Schools' Scholarship Committee and as a co-editor of the Mass Tort Litigation Blog. 

Pat McGinley

Professor Patrick C. McGinley  Professor Patrick McGinley is a graduate of Dickinson College and the Duke University School of Law where he was a member of the Duke Law Journal Editorial Board. Professor McGinley served as a law clerk to a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and as a Special Assistant Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Strike Force. In the latter position he was engaged in environmental enforcement and mine safety litigation. In 1975 Professor McGinley joined the West Virginia University College of Law faculty where he has taught courses in contracts, civil procedure, criminal, environmental, administrative, land use and natural resources, constitutional law, and appellate advocacy as well as seminars in public access to information, environmental justice and U.S. Supreme Court litigation.

Professor McGinley was co-editor of the multi-volume treatise Coal Law & Regulation and of the Annual Proceedings of the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation. He was a founder and served as an officer and trustee of the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation (now the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation). He has published numerous law review articles relating to environmental law, natural resources, access to public information, and administrative law. His most recent scholarship, Climate Change and Coal: Exploring the Dark Side, appears in Climate Change: A Reader (Carolina Academic Press, 2009).

Professor McGinley has served as Chair, American Law Institute – American Bar Association Course of Study: Legal Issues in the Coal Industry; Co-Chair, American Law Institute – American Bar Association Course of Study: Legal Issues in the Eastern Coal Industry, (First continuing legal education program broadcasting nation-wide to remote city locations; Chair, Eastern Mineral Law Foundation, Oil and Gas Special Institute; Program Chair, WVU College of Law: A Discussion of Public Corruption; Chair, American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Section of Environmental Law, Environmental Justice in the Classroom and Courtroom; Co-Chair, Environmental Justice\Racism Workshop, Society of American Law Teachers Annual Meeting (University of Minnesota School of Law); Member of the Board of Directors; and as a consultant to the West Virginia Water Resources Board and the West Virginia Sago Mine Disaster Investigation.

Professor McGinley has been recognized by the Environmental Policy Institute for his “tireless efforts to promote and uphold the rights of the land, the people of America’s coalfields and the law protecting them.” (1987); by the Directors of the 16th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference Cary Rydberg Award (University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon) for “Outstanding Contributions to Public Interest Advocacy” (1998); and by the Public Justice Foundation for “winning exceptional victories for the public interest.” (2000).

Professor McGinley has litigated many cases before administrative tribunals as well as state and federal trial and appellate courts. Professor McGinley has traveled to many countries in connection with his work with grassroots environmental public interest lawyers.

Suzanne Weise

Suzanne Weise  Weise is a graduate of Boston University (B.A., 1983) and the West Virginia University College of Law (J.D., 1986). Professor Weise served as a law clerk for West Virginia Public Service Commissioner Otis T. Casto (1986-1989). Subsequently, she served as law clerk for Justice Thomas B. Miller (1989-1990) and Justice Thomas E. McHugh (1990-1994) of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. From 1994 until 2009, Professor Weise engaged in a diverse general practice of law, primarily as a litigator representing clients in matters involving property rights, contracts, environmental law, public access to information, administrative law, and family law. In 2009, Professor Weise began teaching at WVU Law as an adjunct supervising attorney (WVU General Law Clinic) and an instructor of legal reasoning, research and writing. In 2010, Professor Weise joined the newly established WVU College of Law Child and Family Advocacy Law Clinic as a supervising attorney. 

Professor Weise served as a member of the Governor’s Independent Investigation team reviewing the 2006 Sago Mine explosion that caused the deaths of 12 West Virginia miners. More recently, Prof. Weise was a member of the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel investigating the April 5, 2010, explosion of the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 West Virginia miners.

Professor Weise is the co-author of “Open Government Guide: Open Records and Meetings Laws in West Virginia” (The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press 2001, 2006, 2011 eds.) 

In 2000, Professor Weise was recognized by the Public Justice Foundation for winning exceptional victories for the public interest for pro bono representation of clients in a landmark environmental law case. In 2022, she was selected a Fellow of the West Virginia Bar Foundation for her dedication to the welfare of the community and service to the profession. 

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