Judge Irene C. Berger takes her place on the Federal Court bench alongside Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.
Judge Irene C. Berger takes her place on the Federal Court bench alongside Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

On December 11, Judge Irene C. Berger took the public oath of office as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia before a large overflow crowd of legal, judicial and government leaders, as well as a multitude of relatives, friends and members of the general public, at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston. Judge Berger’s illustrious and extraordinary career has included legal experience representing low income persons, county and federal prosecutor positions and more than fifteen years as a Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge. She will hear cases at both the Beckley and Charleston Federal Courthouses.

On December 10, the Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting in Charleston. The fifteen member Board, a diverse group of lawyers from all parts of the state and all types of law practice, spent an extensive amount of time in fulfilling its fiduciary and policy making duties. The Independent Auditor provided a clean audit for the 2008-09 fiscal year, the Bar Foundation/State Bar Joint Committee reported on the lease situation for the facility at 2006 Kanawha Blvd., East in Charleston, the Financial Report was accepted, the Grants Committee received approval for two grants bringing the total grant funds distributed to more than $55,000 in the past 18 months, the 2010 class of Bar Foundation Fellows was approved, IOLTA grants were acted upon and the Bar Foundation’s actions in the past five years were reviewed.

On December 10, the IOLTA Advisory Committee met for its quarterly meeting in Charleston. The Committee, which consists of bankers, accountants, government officials and lawyers, reviewed the IOLTA funds that have appeared to stabilize after several months of reductions because of historically low interest rates and difficult economic conditions. Nevertheless, in the past two years, IOLTA funding in WV has gone down by approximately 30% while the national reduction average is approximately 65% with surrounding jurisdictions suffering even more—Maryland (70% decrease), Virginia (80% decrease) and Washington, DC (80%). The Committee recommended the distribution of $115,000 to the seven IOLTA grantees, in accordance with the Order of the WV Supreme Court (Rule 1.15 of the WV Rules of Professional Conduct).