Two circuit judges honored for novel scientific training

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 13, 2009



DANIELS -– Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin has honored Circuit Judges Russell M. Clawges Jr. and James J. Rowe for their election as ASTAR Science and Technology Fellows.

Clawges is Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in Monongalia County, and Rowe is Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties.

ASTAR, The Advanced Science & Technology Adjudication Resource Center, is based in Washington, D.C. In January 2007, ASTAR began operation of a Congressionally mandated project administered by the U. S. Department of Justice to improve science and technology training of judges in the United States. The program seeks to identify, recruit, train, and deploy science and technology resource judges.

Resource judges are able to preside in complex cases featuring novel scientific evidence and issues, are skilled in mediation and other procedures that may save litigants from the financial and emotional costs of lengthy trials, and they can provide background and procedural information to their colleagues.

Clawges and Rowe were among 190 judicial officers from across the country who each completed a 120-hour case-related science and technology curriculum beginning in 2007 and concluding earlier this year. As part of the National Resource Judge Program, they now can serve as resources to other judges in the state.

The curriculum included reviews of criminal and civil cases involving complex and novel scientific and technical evidence in forensics, addiction science and treatment technologies, genetic science and technologies, neuroscience, computer science and Internet technologies. The program consisted of 60 hours of ASTAR-accredited "boot camp" and advanced program attendance, 20 hours of a neuroscience-related case conference in which judges had to write a memorandum of law in a complex case, 30 hours to download an archival science and technology desk book, and 10 hours to prepare a judges' science and technology education program for fellow judges.

Clawges and Rowe participated in the program under scholarships from the U.S. Department of Justice, funded in a cooperative agreement between the Department and ASTAR.

Benjamin presented them with plaques Tuesday signifying their achievement during the first day of the fall Circuit Judges Education Conference at The Resort at Glade Springs.

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