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|Current Court Information:|
|United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia|
|Appointed by:||Barack Obama|
|Active:||11/09/2009 - Present|
|Preceded by:||David Faber|
|Past post:||West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge of Kanawha County|
|Past term:||1994 - 2009|
|Undergraduate:||West Virginia U., B.A., 1976|
|Law School:||West Virginia U. Law, J.D., 1979|
Irene Cornelia Berger is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. She was nominated by President Obama in 2009. She is the first black judge to serve on a federal court in West Virginia.
Early life and education
- 1994-2009: Judge, West Virginia Circuit Court, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Kanawha County Circuit Court
- 1994: Assistant U.S. attorney, Southern District of West Virginia
- 1982-1994: Assistant prosecutor, Kanawha County, West Virginia
- 1979-1982: Staff attorney, Legal Aid Society, Charleston, West Virginia
Berger was a judge for the Kanawha County Circuit Court in West Virginia following an appointment from Democratic Governor Caperton in 2004. She was the first black woman to serve on the Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Southern District of West Virginia
|Court:||Southern District of West Virginia|
|Progress:||Confirmed 111 days after nomination.|
|Nominated:||July 8, 2009|
|ABA Rating:||Unanimously Well Qualified|
|Hearing:||September 9, 2009|
|Reported:||October 1, 2009|
|Confirmed:||October 27, 2009|
On the recommendation of Senators Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, Berger was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 8, 2009 to replace David Faber on the Southern District of West Virginia. Berger also received an unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association.
Berger had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 9, 2009, after which she was approved with unanimous consent. Ranking Republican Committee Member Senator Jeff Sessions praised her qualifications and Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller called her "absolutely superb."
On October 1, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve her nomination to a full Senate vote. Twenty six days later on October 27, 2009, Judge Berger was confirmed by the US Senate on a unopposed 96-0-4 vote.
Unconstitutional redistricting map (2012)United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Jefferson County Commission et al v. Tennant et al, 2:11-cv-00989)
On January 3, 2012, a federal three-judge panel from the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia ruled West Virginia's congressional redistricting plan unconstitutional due its unequal distribution of population among the state’s three districts. The court gave the West Virginia Legislature until January 17 to come up with a new map -- otherwise, the panel would redraw the map. The State appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court for a stay on the decision.
Supreme Court appeal
On January 20, 2012, the Supreme Court stayed the lower court's ruling requiring West Virginia lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional redistricting map. The order suggested that the court would be sympathetic to the state's defense in a full appeal. The order also allowed the state to move forward with the new maps for the 2012 elections. Prior to the ruling, several alternative plans had been considered in the state legislature.
The state had until March 27 to file a brief with the Supreme Court or seek an extension on the stay. On March 27, the state filed a brief asking the court to hear the case. If the case did not go before the court, the lower court's ruling would have taken effect, and the maps would be redrawn.On September 25, 2012, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the lower federal court, upholding the new congressional districts as constitutional. In their eight-page ruling the Supreme Court stated somewhat unequal districts were permissible as the Legislature legitimately sought to avoid drawing incumbents into the same district while keeping counties intact.
In a 1991 interview with the Charleston Daily Mail, Berger talked about her support for judicial empathy. Despite her reputation as a tough prosecutor, she talked about her empathetic side as a prosecutor and as a judge. She stated: "People want to see people punished, and rightfully they should be. But on the other hand, you see people who didn't have a family support group and may be your age and they're going to the pen. You remember they are still human beings."
- Judge Berger's Biography from the Federal Judicial Center
- Official White House press release announcing Berger's nomination
- Official statement on Berger's nomination from West Virginia US Senator Jay Rockefeller
- Official statement on Berger's nomination from West Virginia US Senator Robert C. Byrd
- Charleston Gazette, "U.S. Senate confirms Berger as federal judge," October 27, 2009
- Judge Berger's Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
- Associated Press, "Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger nominated for federal judge position," July 8, 2009
- White House Press Office, President Obama nominates Irene Berger and Roberto Lange to serve on the Federal District Court Bench, July 8, 2009
- West Virginia Record, "Manchin has list of seven to replace Berger," October 23, 2009
- Associated Press, "U.S. Senate committee backs Berger," October 2, 2009
- The State Journal, "Senate Judiciary Considers Berger for Federal Bench," September 17, 2009
- WSAZ, "U.S. Senate Confirms Irene Berger for New Federal Judge," October 27, 2009
- Chicago Tribune, "Supreme Court keeps West Virginia redistricting map intact," January 20, 2012
- State Journal, "Legal Experts Comment on Congressional Redistricting Case," January 17, 2012
- WV Gazette, "Congressional redistricting plan introduced produces grumbling," January 16, 2012
- WV Gazette, "W.Va. lawmakers seek OK of congressional districts," March 27, 2012
- The Journal, "Commission updated on lawsuit," March 16, 2012
- The Daily Mail, "Supreme Court rules: W.Va. redistricting can stand," September 25, 2012
|Federal judicial offices|
|Southern District of West Virginia
|Magistrate judges||Clarke VanDervort • Cheryl Eifert • Dwane Tinsley •|
|Former Article III judges||
Benjamin Franklin Keller • George Warwick McClintic • Harry Watkins • Sidney Christie • Charles Haden II • William Kidd • John Field • Kenneth Hall • Elizabeth Hallanan • Dennis Knapp • Ben Moore • Robert Staker •
|Former Chief judges|
|Vacancy Count by Congress|
|Vacancy Count by Year||Federal Vacancy Warning System: 2009 • Federal Vacancy Warning System: 2010 • Federal Vacancy Warning System: 2011 • Federal Vacancy Warning System: 2012|