WELLSBURG – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has presented the 2010 Liberty Bell Award to Jim Lee, the Chief Probation Officer in the First Judicial Circuit of West Virginia.
Justice Thomas McHugh presented the award to Lee on Saturday evening at the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation Dinner at the Wellsburg Banquet Hall. Lee is chairman of the Foundation.
The Liberty Bell Award is presented each year to a person who has "promoted better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged greater respect for the law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility, or contributed to good government in the community," according to criteria set by the American Bar Association.
"I can't think of anyone who has done more to contribute to good government, or promote a better understanding and respect for the rule of law and the courts than Jim Lee," McHugh said. "So it is with great pleasure that on behalf of Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis and the entire Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia that I present this year's West Virginia Liberty Bell Award to Jim Lee."
Lee is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has served since 1972 as the Chief Probation Officer for the First Circuit, which covers Hancock, Brooke and Ohio Counties. He also is a criminal justice professor at West Liberty State College and Wheeling Jesuit University.
Lee holds masters degrees in Leadership Studies from Marshall University and Science in Education from the University of Dayton.
In the 1990s, Lee served on the Supreme Court's Commission on the Future of the West Virginia Judiciary. In 2000, he was instrumental in establishing the Lee Day Report Center, which began operations in January 2001. Lee also authored West Virginia's Community Corrections Act, which was passed into law in 2001, and he was instrumental in starting the state's first drug/DUI and mental health court.
In 2004, Lee was honored as a Distinguished West Virginian in recognition of his efforts to improve the criminal justice system. Last year, he was named to the Governor's Committee on Overcrowded Prisons.
In March 2010 West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw appointed Lee to a statewide, 35-member Citizens Advisory Committee. General McGraw cited Lee's extensive and decorated experience in criminal justice and involvement in community programs. Lee was installed into this group this month at a conference in Daniels.
"So as you can see this award is just one in a long list of awards Mr. Lee has received. He has earned them all for a lifetime of commitment and dedication to community service," McHugh said.
Lee was surprised by the award and uncharacteristically speechless.