John T. Copenhaver, Jr. has been selected to receive the prestigious
Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fourth Circuit. He will
be presented with the award by Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory at the
Fourth Circuit Annual Judicial Conference in June at The Greenbrier
Copenhaver is a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West
Virginia, who has served on the bench for 60 years, entering hundreds of
opinions there and by designation on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit. He also presided for more than 30 years over
naturalization ceremonies in the district. He has been a prominent
national expert on bankruptcy law and was a driving force behind the
modernization of the American insolvency system. He was a member of the
National Bankruptcy Conference, which studies bankruptcy laws and
generates reform proposals, serving as a consultant to Congress.
While serving as president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy
Judges from 1975 to 1976, Copenhaver played an instrumental role in the
events leading to passage of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978,
including testifying before the Subcommittee on Bankruptcy. In a
question-and-answer interview published in People magazine in
March 1976, he explained the bankruptcy system to the general public.
Copenhaver also served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory
Committee on Bankruptcy Rules from 1978 to 1982.
Copenhaver earned his JD from West Virginia University School of Law,
where he taught a course in creditor’s rights for six years while on the
bench, earning the school’s Gavel Award in 1971. An endowed chair in his
name was established in 2003 by the Sarah and Pauline Maier Foundation.
Committed to providing affordable housing for all West Virginians,
Copenhaver served on and chaired the West Virginia Housing Development
Fund and served as president of the Municipal Planning Commission of the
City of Charleston, WV. He received Medal of Merit from the local
American Legion Post in 2008. He is an Emeritus member of the Judge John
A. Field, Jr. American Inn of Court.
Inns of Court, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, fosters
excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills. The
organization’s membership includes more than 31,000 federal, state, and
local judges; lawyers; law professors; and law students in nearly 380
chapters nationwide and more than 100,000 alumni members. More
information is available at home.innsofcourt.org.
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