Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

2018 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fourth Circuit

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA—Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. has been selected to receive the prestigious 2018 American 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 Resort.

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.