CHARLESTON – After a 40-year career of devoting her life to the protection of the rights of children, Williamson lawyer Jane Moran has been recognized for her efforts.
On June 13, Moran was honored by the Juvenile Justice Commission of West Virginia for her career in the service of the organization and activities on behalf of the state's children. She was presented with a certificate of appreciation signed by every current state Supreme Court Justice as well as Administrative Director Gary Johnson and a proclamation from Gov. Jim Justice.
“Every single initiative the Supreme Court has embarked on since the 1980s and before, Jane Moran has been a part of it, especially every single initiative that has had to do with children,” said Supreme Court Justice Workman, according to a press release issued by the Juvenile Justice Commission.
Moran began her career advocating working on behalf of the underprivileged in the mid-1960s. First, she was a neighborhood organizer for Americorps VISTA in the south side of Chicago and later in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Her next steps took her to Los Angeles where she began studying law. Upon completion of her legal training in 1975 she moved to Williamson and started offering legal-aid services to the poor while working for Mingo County Legal Services and later AppalReD.
Moran first became inspired to work on behalf of children when she saw a group of children charged with a juvenile offense after stealing a bag of cookies while they were waiting for their mother outside of an unemployment office, she told The
West Virginia Record.
"I became fascinated by the opportunity to speak for any child who cannot speak for themselves," she said.
Over the course of her career, she has argued cases in a wide range of judicial venues including the U.S. Supreme Court, the West Virginia Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. She also worked to organize tenant and welfare rights groups and helped to found the Tug Valley Recovery Shelter.
Moran taught at the Benchmark Institute’s Trial and Hearing Skills Training, a program designed to improve the quality and quantity of legal services available to low income communities. She was also was chairman of the Public Defenders Corp. for 20 years and chairman of Mountain State Justice since its inception in 1996.
Moran said that she chose to spend so much of her career focused on helping children and working within the juvenile justice system because it was chance to help children when they are most vulnerable.
"In juvenile law, you have a chance to help these children when their lives are about to take off," she added. "There are all of these chances to save these kids' lives and get them into college and change the direction of their lives."
She went on to say that once she learned how difficult the experiences were for underprivileged children, she could never have gone in a different direction.
"When it comes to the abuse and neglect of children, those are things that once you see you can't look back from," Moran explained.