News Garrett College Dean Cited In Amicus Brief To The Supreme Court Of The United States - Garrett College

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Campus News

March 24th, 2020

Garrett College Dean cited in Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court of the United States

Law review on the "The History of the West Virginia Code"

JR Kerns

A law review article concerning the legal history of the West Virginia code written by Garrett College's Dean of Student Affairs, Robert "JR" Kerns Jr., has been cited in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the case of State of Georgia v. Public Resource Org Inc., the Supreme Court is being asked to determine ownership over written interpretations of the law. Currently, states outsource their legal annotations to third-party publishers, which undertake the work of creating the annotations at no cost in exchange for the exclusive publication rights guaranteed by the states' copyright ownership of the annotated legal codes.

A legal annotation is a note, summary, or commentary on some section of a book or a statute that is intended to explain or illustrate its meaning. Legal annotations serve as a brief summary of the law and the facts of a case and demonstrate how a particular law enacted by Congress or a state legislature is interpreted and applied. The economic reality is that states cannot afford to annotate their own laws.

The Copyright Alliance, a nonprofit, organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the ability of professionals to earn a living from their creativity is cited in an article written by Robert "JR" Kerns Jr. titled "The History of the West Virginia Code."

In that article, Kerns advocated for protecting legal annotations promoting the underlying goals of copyright law by reinforcing the value of copyright in scholarly works. In his article he stated that "annotations do not only serve to supplement statutes, they also expand on the public's understanding of the law". Kerns continued by explaining that annotations are an invaluable resource in understanding statutes because "it is unsafe for a legal practitioner to give any opinion as to the effect of a statute without accounting for courts application of the statute.

"It's exciting to have my law review article cited before the Supreme Court of the United States," said Kerns.

According to Kerns, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in December 2019 and a decision is anticipated by this summer.

"It's an honor to have my article be a factor in the Supreme Court's consideration in the case at hand," noted Kerns.

A resident of Morgantown, W.Va., Kerns earned his doctor of jurisprudence from West Virginia University College of Law in 2011 and a master of laws from the Michigan State University College of Law in 2016.