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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.

Defending the Peer Review Privilege: Guidance for Health Care Providers and Counsel After Wheeling Hospital

Health care providers are generally familiar with the doctor-patient privilege, which protects information exchanged between a physician and a patient for the purposes of rendering or receiving health care services. 1 The statutory peer review privilege is similar, except it protects communications between health care providers who are engaged in the review and critique of both specific and general elements of health care with the overall goal of health care improvement. 2 This Article will explore what peer review is, why it needs to be preserved, the basic elements of peer review protection, and how to prepare and defend a privilege log under the new State ex rel. Wheeling Hospital., Inc. v. Wilson 3 decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Peer review is the process by which doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers review the performance of other doctors and health care providers. 4 The earliest known peer review can be traced to the American College of Surgeons. 5 In 1919, the College sought to standardize hospitals, organize medical staffs, and set minimum standards. 6 In the early 20th century, peer review was developed “as a way to review the quality of the care rendered by physicians and surgeons.” 7 It became a requirement in 1952 for “hospitals to perform peer review to qualify for accreditation.” 8 “[P]eer review developed into the primary method of evaluating the quality of physician services at . . . hospital[s] . . . .” 9

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Strangulation as a Felony Offense: A New Penalty Under W. Va. Code § 61-2-9D

On February 2, 2016, a bipartisan group of eleven West Virginia delegates introduced House Bill 4362, 1 aimed at creating a separate criminal offense for the act of strangulation. 2 The West Virginia Legislature passed it on March 5, 2016, and the governor signed it into law on March 9, 2016. 3 Until the new law took effect on June 3, 2016, 4 West Virginia was one of a minority of states to lack such a statute. 5 Although West Virginia is now part of a growing number of jurisdictions to punish strangulation as a felony, 6 the statutory language and elements of the crime vary widely by state. 7 Now, over a year since the law’s passage, this Article will attempt to appraise its initial effectiveness and recommend some changes regarding its future application.

When the West Virginia Legislature meets in future sessions, it will likely consider revisions to this new law. As it does so, it should weigh the approaches of other state legislatures in deciding the severity of punishment and providing clarifying language. West Virginia courts now face the challenge of interpreting what actions constitute a qualifying offense for conviction. When comparing the standards used in the judiciaries of other states, their approaches are diverse. If the West Virginia Legislature pursues measures to clearly define the statutory elements necessary for a conviction, it will mitigate the potential for disparate approaches. In Section II, this Article will trace the background of the new law and analyze the positions of other states and West Virginia in applying strangulation laws. In Section III, it will offer some possible solutions to the challenges currently facing the court system.

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Law Students as Future Leaders: Using Neutral Facilitation Techniques to Teach Leadership Skills

Lawyers lead in America. They always have. They probably always will. This Article suggests the reasons why. It also argues that if lawyers are destined to lead, then law schools should help law students develop an understanding of leadership theory and foster leadership skill development. The Article describes how a course called “Lawyers as Leaders” is taught at the West Virginia University College of Law, employing neutral facilitation techniques, as well as lectures, group discussions, journaling, and simulation activities. It then describes a powerful pedagogical tool that can be used to develop future leaders: “student-centered neutral facilitation.” It explains why neutral student-centered facilitation is an effective method for teaching leadership skills to law students. The Article begins and ends with two “facilitation stories,” highlighting the use of facilitation by experienced lawyers and law students alike. The first story is about the use of facilitation to help clients achieve their goals. The second is about a student in the midst of learning how to facilitate a discussion.

Tom, a senior partner in a law firm that represents many health care organizations, is called to the offices of one of his clients, an academic medical center. He learns that the center’s leadership wants to review how it can best contribute to helping the state address one of the more serious problems faced by policy makers in Appalachia today—opioid abuse and addiction. Most policy makers in the state and at the center are familiar with the problem, and many are addressing it in different ways. They are aware that state policy makers, including the Governor, legislators, law enforcement groups, prosecutors, addiction centers and clinics, and other health care organizations are launching initiatives to address the associated problems, but progress is slow. Coordination is needed. The medical center executives are struggling to prioritize their efforts. They have this nagging sense they can do more, and should, but they want to pause and reflect before they expend more resources on the problem.

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About Volume 121

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