Saturday, August 30, 2003

Results of Saturday night multi-tasking experiment

Based on this evening's experience, it is barely possible to listen to this season's first broadcast of a U.Va. football game (via Yahoo! Sports), read the updated play-by-play and stats on Gametracker via, catch up on the unread e-mail at the house and the office, and do a little blogging at the same time.

This would never happen at Wellmont-Bristol

The Washington Post had this story, which I read in local papers this morning, about a woman who died after she was given the wrong blood because she had changed beds in her semi-private room before bowel resection surgery.

The hospital in Bristol (as of the last time I was there) has only private rooms.

Qualified immunity denied on wrongful arrest claim against former Virginia sheriff

This somewhat obscure article suggests that Judge Hudson of the E.D. Va. has denied a qualified immunity motion of a former Virginia sheriff seeking dismissal of a civil suit for wrongful arrest.

How to find legal news, and still a place for print media

Having read this article (via Inter Alia) on how to find legal news, I think I do all of these things (sometimes).

Inter Alia also has a link to this article on why Google is not enough for legal research, and print sources are still valuable.

In our small office, when a good book goes missing, I am the usual suspect - but not always guilty. Some years ago, my now-partner and then-boss sent me after some book and I came back empty-handed and told him that all I found on the shelf where the volume should have been was a business card saying that he had it.

Two books I bought today

I am not a "booksnake" like my wife's uncle David, but there are some books that I have to buy, and two I just bought are An Affair of Honor by Richard Marius and Trial and Error by John Tucker (both shown in the margin, I think).

Richard Marius died a few years ago - his Bourbonville books are just about my favorites. I have read After the War over and over.

Like about everyone who graduated from the law school at William & Mary, I once met John Tucker at his house on the Chickahominy, where he lives with his wife, Professor Jayne Barnard. They came to Virginia from Chicago. I started law school in 1986, just when the Bears were at their best, and the refrigerator in the house of Mr. Tucker had on it a large poster of William "the Refrigerator" Perry. (The only time I saw Perry play I think the score was Clemson 55, Virginia 0.) Mr. Tucker wrote the book about the Roger Coleman case from Buchanan County, which I have read many times and recommended to my lawyer friends and surely mentioned on this blog.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Train hits car, words follow

Ernie Svenson has this legal writing post - with many interesting reader comments - about how to improve this sentence:

"A locomotive operated by Illinois Central Railroad Company (Illinois Central) injured Kelli Smallwood when it struck the automobile in which she was travelling."

Denial of funds for DNA expert held to be reversible error

In Sanchez v. Com., the Virginia Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Annunziata joined by Chief Judge Fitzpatrick and Judge Clements reversed the appellant's hit-and-run conviction and other convictions on account of the trial court's failure to provide funding for a DNA expert to rebut the Commonwealth's evidence about whose DNA was at the accident scene.

Custody decision remanded because trial judge failed to state basis

In Kane v. Szymczak, the Virginia Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Kelsey joined by Judge Elder reversed and remanded an order granting custody to appellant's ex-husband of their children, where the trial court failed to comply with Va. Code § 20-124.3, which requires that "The judge shall communicate to the parties the basis of the decision either orally or in writing." Judge Baumgardner dissented, concluding that the circuit court's letter in context met the requirements of the statute.

Blogging articles just received and read

From FindLaw -

By David Maizenberg for Modern Practice

By Cory Doctorow et al., reviewed by Patrick O¹Keefe for Sitepoint

By Larry Bodine

AG sees nothing wrong with Commandments in courthouse

The Winchester paper reports here that Attorney General Kilgore disagrees with court rulings requiring the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses, and says that since Virginia is not in the same circuit as Alabama, he has no plans to have anything removed from public buildings in Virginia.

Just one big happy family

As reported here, Senator Russell Potts and his former opponents are loosely reunited against Democrats.

Looking for "equal" benefits in Charlottesville

This commentary in the Cavalier Daily urges the administration to evade the legal advice from Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and find a way to provide "domestic partner" benefits for employees of the University.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

No. 47 said to No. 3 . . .

The Trademark Blog has this interesting post on numbers as marks, which says, among other things:

"My unscientific speculation is that Chanel's trademark, No. 5, is the most famous number trademark. Pizzeria Uno's trademark lawyer has contacted me to suggest that UNO is the most famous number trademark. Levi's owns 501 and 505 (it shares 505 with a cleaning solution). And let's not forget 007."

Also, on numerology, earlier this week, I heard of the complicated deal between two Miami Dolphins players over the return of No. 27 to Terrell Buckley, who made a pact that he would pay his teammate for the right to wear his old number.

The Miami Herald has this account of the jersey deal:

"The base-salary portion of the contract, worth in excess of $7,000, stipulates that after Miami's preseason game against Atlanta last week, Freeman would relinquish his number.

''If the game ended at 11 p.m., at 11:01 he could no longer touch No. 27,'' Buckley said.

The contract even has incentive clauses. If Buckley goes to the Pro Bowl, if he gets a certain number of interceptions, if he scores a certain number of touchdowns off those interceptions, he must pay Freeman more money for the number.

''We negotiated this thing for two weeks,'' Buckley said. ``I'm serious. I was just going to drop the issue altogether, but my family kept hounding me to get back my old number. This is what it took.''

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Why software companies are not liable for damages resulting from security flaws

This article describes the reasons why software companies - i.e., Microsoft - are generally not liable for damages resulting from security flaws - the main reason being, the enforcement of boilerplate liability limitations in the End User License Agreements.

Fourth Circuit reverses $500,000+ in fees and costs for "marginally successful" case

In Knussman v. State of Maryland, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Widener, Williams, and Traxler reversed the trial court's award of more than $500,000 in attorneys' fees and costs, in a section 1983 case where many of the claims and parties were dismissed, and the jury verdict for emotional distress was reduced to $40,000.

Failure to cooperate on discovery means no discovery sanctions against opponent

Last week's ABA Journal has this story about an appellate decision, the gist of which is that a plaintiff's lawyer who aggressively sought discovery without cooperating with the other side would not be allowed sanctions for discovery violations by the opponent.

I have not litigated too many discovery motions in recent years, partly because I am determined to make a strong record in advance before any such motion and partly because the court-ordered results of discovery motions are often unsatisfactory - the Court is often in the worst position of anyone to figure out enough about the case to know what is reasonable and what isn't.

One discovery motion that I contested some years ago, that generates the occasional telephone call and gets cited every now and then (sometimes against me), is described in a published opinion, Terwilliger v. York Intl. Corp., 176 F.R.D. 214 (W.D. Va. 1997), in which the Court recognized limits on the right to discovery of some kinds of private information about an individual plaintiff.

Virginia senator seeks clarification from AG on school gun ban

According to this AP story, Senator Kevin Miller from Harrisonburg has asked Attorney General Kilgore for a formal opinion on the question of "whether a local ban on firearms on school property conflicts with a new state law."

More on the dissent in the Hamdi case

Editorialists, such as this one, critical of the government's expanded powers continue to focus on the dissenting opinions from the Hamdi case.

Retired judge to make life-or-death decision where family disagrees

The Daily Press has this article on the terrible story of a family split on the decision whether to keep their 26 year-old son/brother/fiancee on life support at the hospital in Charlottesville, and the guardian who has been appointed to resolve the dispute.

Natural gas storage operations gets started at Saltville

According to this press release, a natural gas storage operation is about to get started at Saltville in Smyth County, using an "underground salt cavern facility."

Why should private law offices have all the fun?

The Washington Post reports here that computers have been slowed at the offices of the nation's U.S. attorneys because of some worm or virus.

I'm sure that these offices are obvious targets and that keeping their computers secure is a big job.

Counting broadband penetration in Southwest Virginia

This chart shows that 6% of the market in the Roanoke/Lynchburg area have broadband service, while this article relates that almost 15% of the homes in Bristol, Virginia, are now buying broadband from Bristol Virginia Utilities.

Bedford woman acquitted of murder on insanity defense

Via Virginia Lawyers Weekly, the Lynchburg paper has this account of the acquittal of a Bedford county woman who claimed that because of her insanity she should be found innocent of criminal charges for fatally shooting her husband.

The article says, in part:

"Bowles suffers from a delusional disorder that is aggravated by a methamphetamine addiction, Padgett said.
She thought for years that Morris was trying to kill her and told police on the night of the shooting that it was either him or her.
Bowles said she also thought Morris had killed his first wife for insurance money because he would change the channel when “Unsolved Mysteries” came on television.
She also thought he was planning to do the same thing to her and that’s what she told police after they arrested her for shooting him on April 12, 2001.
“She had the idea that her husband had always been against her. She also has delusions that her own lawyer and myself were against her,” Padgett told Updike.
Clinical psychologists described Bowles’ illness as a “Delusional Disorder, persecutory type.” They also said that even though she suffered from delusions, she could also “act normal” well enough to fool some experts.
“That’s why she’s dangerous,” Padgett said.
According to psychological evaluations done by both the defense and the state psychologists, Bowles believed for years that Morris was really another man named Edward Armistead Thomas and that he had had plastic surgery done to disguise himself.
She also thought that Morris was part of the Pagans motorcycle gang and that he knew all the police officers in town, who therefore wouldn’t believe anything she said, Padgett said."

More on rural telecommunications

Here is the agenda for Rural TeleCon '03, co-sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Rural Broadband Coalition, and here is an announcement for the FCC Rural Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) Showcase and Workshop, both events to be held in September in Washington, D.C. I've been wondering about the status of the Dickenson County wireless internet program.

One thing I get from the municipal telecom seminars that I have attended, involving statewide and national groups, is that people know about Bristol and Southwest Virginia, almost in the same way that NASCAR fans know about Bristol.

Not much hope for defense of Ten Commandments display in Sullivan County

According to this report, the attorney for Sullivan County will defend the Ten Commandments display in Blountville if asked, but he is not optimistic that a court would not order its removal.

Dan Street is the county attorney, which I think is an elected position in Sullivan County. A long time ago, he came to a Bristol TN bar meeting and introduced himself, and he made no particular impression, but in subsequent years as I have mostly read and sometimes heard of his work since he took office, it is my impression that he does a good job for the county, which has what seems to me like an governing structure, so many commissioners (24 of them listed here) I would expect that it would be difficult to much done.

Management of TennCare liberated by settlement of 4 long-running suits

Governor Bredesen in Tennessee announced the settlement of four lawsuits, in which court orders imposed a crazy quilt of obligations on what is now TennCare, as described in this Kingsport Times article.

Welcome back, Wilson

Yesterday, the Roanoke Times reported here that the Virginia State Bar has recommended the reinstatement of lawyer Doug Wilson, who lost his license after he was convicted in federal court for giving tax advice that somehow crossed the line, in a case where his client testified against Wilson and the client did not, so far as I recall, go to jail, at least not for the tax problem. Judge Turk was the trial judge, who overturned the conviction but was reversed on appeal, and he wrote to the State Bar in support of Wilson's reinstatement. The article says that the Virginia Supreme Court gets the final word on whether Wilson will be reinstated to the practice of law in Virginia.

The Virginia Supreme Court reinstated Wise County attorney Carl McAfee in somewhat similar circumstances, about the time that I became a practicing lawyer. Mr. McAfee's suspension is mentioned in this article by ethics specialist James McCauley from the Virginia Lawyer Register for May 2003, titled "Feds Draft Lawyers to Fight War on Terrorism: Anti-Money Laundering Laws and the USA Patriot Act."

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Will "Big Stone Gap" be filmed in Canada?

Adriana Trigiani said in Wytheville last week that the film version of her book Big Stone Gap might be made in Canada, according to this report.

Fourth Circuit affirms death penalty in Montgomery County murder case

In Reid v. True, the Fourth Circuit in a decision by Chief Judge Wilkins, joined by Judges Gregory and Shedd, affirmed the denial of habeas corpus in a murder case from Montgomery County, Virginia, in which the defendant was sentenced to be executed for stabbing to death an 80 year-old woman. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the defendant's conviction and sentence on direct appeal in Reid v. Com, 256 Va. 561, 506 S.E.2d 787 (1998), in an opinion by Justice Kinser.

The opinion mostly deals with explaining the substance and purpose of the Fourth Circuit's new Local Rule 22(a), dealing with certificates of appealability in post-conviction appeals. I'm not sure that I have ever seen an opinion which deals at such length in explaining a local rule of court - should one set of three judges, even with the Chief Judge among them, be allowed to submit a lengthy advisory opinion on what a new rule means, in ways that might go beyond the requirements of the particular case, almost as if they were providing a commentary to the new rule?

Trial court must award costs or explain why not

In the case of In re: Bonds Distributing, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Widener, Michael, and Motz, reversed and remanded the final judgment entered in the case for the trial court to award costs or explain why not, and also to take action on whether to provide relief from the supersedeas bond filed in connection with an earlier appeal.

Judge Jones has denied costs a time or two. In one of my cases, I asked that the plaintiff be required to pay restitution to his employer of the employer's payments for his health insurance while the case was on appeal. The judge held that restitution was a matter of discretion and it would be unfair to require the plaintiff to pay back that money. In another case, Judge Jones denied the usual costs to the defendant in a slip-and-fall case, in this opinion, where the facts included these: "In the present case it is undisputed that Mrs. Crusenberry is in her eighties, is physical disabled, lives alone in an apartment, has meager assets consisting of her furniture and an amount saved for her burial, and subsists only on her monthly government checks." When I first read that opinion, I thought, oh no, the defense lawyers have stepped in it, won the case but gone too far, looking for costs from a crippled old lady.

More on zealous representation (and reporting) in Wise County and elsewhere

For another view on the Coalfield Progress story about the lawyer who interviewed the alleged rape victim at the defendant's house, here is the take from Ken of CrimLaw.

Ken finds that there is a lot missing from the article, information he'd like to know. Strangely, I thought the article was full of interesting facts, particularly since I know the lawyers and the reporter, O'Donna Ramsey, who writes many delightful articles about courthouse matters from Wise County.

I had a case years ago where, when it was done and my side had won on summary judgment, I wrote up sort of a press release, got it approved by the client, and sent it to the Bristol paper, which printed it almost as written, and to the local weekly (in another county), which made a complete hash out of it, in spite of my best efforts to spoon feed the story to them. Strangest of all, in the reporting of that case, the reporter for the weekly ended every article he wrote with the suggestion that for further information, his readers should call the deputy clerk of U.S. District Court, and gave her office phone number.

Front Royal citizens sue over Wal-mart rezoning

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this account of the appeal filed by some Front Royal residents of the town's decision to rezone property to permit the construction of a new Wal-Mart on the edge of town.

New FCC rules on local telephone service and broadband viewed as gift to litigators

About six months ago, there was much hype over the FCC's new ruling on the extent to which the big incumbent local exchange carriers of telephone service would have to share their facilities with others, for local telephone service and for broadband data service. The outcome was announced at a press conference (that I saw replayed on C-SPAN) but the writing did not come out until last week, as described here (among other places), and this article covers the range of reactions to it, including one lawyer's statement that "Every word will be challenged," telecom lawyer Dana Frix told the Times. "My children will go to college on this stuff. This is a lawyer's dream."

Greatest bankruptcy story ever told

The Lee County Community Hospital went bankrupt, and was auctioned off by the bankruptcy court for money than enough money to pay all the creditors with some money left over for charity, as described here in the Kingsport Times interview with the head man of the successor entity, Mark Crawford of Lee Regional Medical Center, a subsidiary of Health Management Associates of Naples, FL.

The article says, in part:

The hospital filed for bankruptcy protection on July 20, 2000, after revelations of a massive fraud committed by the former chief executive officer, a doctor, a physical therapist and a lawyer who served on the board of directors. All four eventually received federal prison terms and at least two - the doctor and the CEO - are still incarcerated.

The men were convicted of participating in a $7 million kickback scheme involving contracts brokered by former CEO James Luther Davis, who remains in prison. Dr. Richard Norton also remains in prison. Two others prosecuted were physical therapist Michael Redman and Charles Fugate, a former board of directors chairman.

The hospital went on the auction block in April 2001, and HMA prevailed with its top bid of $24.9 million, which included cash, assumption of debt and other issues. Although a final order has not been entered, the case has all but concluded, and all creditors are expected to be paid in full by the end of the month, said A. Carter "Chip" Magee, bankruptcy lawyer for the defunct hospital.

After all debts are settled, there will be approximately $1.5 million left over for the establishment of a trust fund that can be used to help financially and medically needy Lee County residents obtain health care, said Magee.

Crawford clarified Thursday that this trust fund will be governed not by his facility's board of directors, but by the former LCCH board of directors. Magee has said the trust fund's bylaws call for the board to govern only until a new board of Lee County residents can be elected.

Personal war story re-discovered about a case in Kentucky

The other day, I went to see the new Bristol, TN offices of the Penn Stuart law firm, and one of the lawyers there reminded me of the tall tales I used to tell about a case I had in Kentucky, and I told him that I had written some of them down a couple of years ago and posted them on a list serv, and that I would send them to him.

Today I found the stories, and here they are:

Some years ago I tried a case in Kentucky with local counsel. The judge
has since passed away.

When I appeared before him to be admitted to practice pro hac vice, the
judge said that my partner was ok but he'd have to hear oral argument on
whether I should be allowed to appear in the case, and started asking
questions. He asked where I went to law school and was told William and
Mary. The judge commented, "That must be a co-ed school." We were
bewildered at the counsel table. The judge explained, "well, you've got
both your William and your Mary, that makes it co-ed."

Later on, recalling that I was from out of town but not that I was also
from out of state, the judge asked me with which of the Lexington firms
did I work. Lexington is the "big city" in Eastern Kentucky. When I
reminded him that I was not from Lexington at all, he said it was all
right then. After he made the connection that we were from a town with a
popular NASCAR track, he told us how much he liked going to the races

En route to a motion hearing in the case, I was running late and got
stopped for speeding, and called ahead telling them to try to move us
back in the docket until I got there. As it turns out, I got there in
plenty of time, but someone had already told the judge that I had been
ticketed. When I rose to argue the motion, the judge said, "Mr. Minor, in
light of your recent brush with the law, have your civil rights been
restored to where you are able to argue this motion?" "Judge," I said,
"I'm innocent until proven guilty."

Our client was a company in the food business. At trial, one of the
essential company witnesses, a nice woman who worked in the bakery/deli,
was very shy and nervous and I wanted to get her on and off the stand as
quickly as possible. After a minimal cross-examination by plaintiff's
counsel, I jumped up and declared the witness was free to go. Detecting
my anxiety, the judge said "Not so fast, the Court has some questions."
My heart sank. The judge turned to the witness and said, "Are you the
woman who makes those fried chicken livers on Saturdays? I go up there
every weekend and spend all my money there." When the woman left the
courtroom and went out where the other witnesses were waiting, she
exclaimed, "He asked me about my chicken livers!"

In the same trial I tried to question another witness, who was a licensed
attorney working in-house for the company, about what he heard the
plaintiff say at the earlier hearing on her claim for unemployment
benefits. We expected some arguments about the admissibility of this
evidence, but no one mentioned the statute I had in mind. Instead, the
lawyer on the other side objected on the inscrutable grounds that the
witness "was going to testify about something he heard while he was a
lawyer." Before I could say anything in response, the judge ruled, even
more inscrutably, "Objection sustained, the witness can answer." I told
the judge I didn't understand his ruling. He pointed back to the table
where our local counsel was still seated and said, "go back over there
and find out." I thought he meant I could get the answer from local
counsel, who of course had no idea what the judge meant. As it turns out,
the judge meant for me to ask more questions, that the witness could say
what he heard but that the unemployment hearing transcript (which we had
not yet tried to introduce, but the witness held in his hands) would not
be allowed into the case as an exhibit.

Eventually, the judge grew tired of our evidence. The claim was about
hostile environment sexual harassment. After several of the plaintiff's
co-workers recounted incidents in which she was the one telling detailed
and unusual stories in the workplace about sexual matters, the judge
called me to the bench and let me know that no more such evidence would
be allowed. "This is a court of law," the judge said, "and we're not
going to have any more of that kind of talk in here."

When the jury retired, immediately upon the closing of the door to the
jury room, all of them laughed together so loudly we could hear them as
we were packing up in the courtroom. Some minutes later, the jury brought
back a the defense verdict, so we can laugh when these stories are
retold. As the day was fine, the local lawyer and I retired to the golf
course, and got in about 15 holes before dark, then I left to drive back
to Virginia.

Bank officer claims he was fired for whistleblowing at federal administrative hearing

The Roanoke Times has this article on the claims of the former CFO of a bank in Floyd County that he was fired for refusing to go along with financial irregularities. The former employee is represented by Kingsport attorney Bruce Shine, while Doug Densmore from Roanoke represents the bank.

Sending a lawyer back to school for being bad has this interesting story of the lawyer who was sanctioned for trying to revive time-barred state law claims in the guise of federal RICO and civil rights claims (what a concept) and the sanction was court-ordered classes on federal civil procedure, professionalism, and legal ethics.

Monday, August 25, 2003

DBS providers sue over sales tax in Tennessee

As reported here in the Kingsport paper, direct broadcast satellite providers Echostar and DirecTV have filed suit claiming the sales tax on satellite service is discriminatory: "In the lawsuit, the satellite dish providers maintain the sales tax is not imposed equally on local cable television customers, even though satellite television companies compete with incumbent cable operators in the same market." The suit was filed last week in Davidson County.

Changes to Virginia Rules of Court

Amendments to the Rules of Court taking effect in October include changes to Rules 1:7, 1:12, 1:13, 4:7 and 4:9, as shown here.

Particularly noteworthy is the new Rule 1:12, which says regarding service by e-mail:

All pleadings, motions and other papers not required to be served otherwise and requests for subpoenas duces tecum shall be served by delivering, dispatching by commercial delivery service, transmitting by facsimile, delivering by electronic mail when consented to in writing signed by the person to be served, or mailing, a copy to each counsel of record on or before the day of filing.

Service pursuant to this Rule shall be effective upon such delivery, dispatch, transmission or mailing, except that papers served by facsimile transmission completed after 5:00 p.m. shall be deemed served on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Service by electronic mail under this
Rule is not effective if the party making service learns that the attempted service did not reach the person to be served.

At the foot of such pleadings and requests shall be appended either acceptance of service or a certificate of counsel that copies were served as this Rule requires, showing the date of delivery and method of service, dispatching, transmitting, or
mailing. When service is made by electronic mail, a certificate of counsel that the document was served by electronic mail shall be served by mail or transmitted by facsimile to each counsel of record on or before the day of service.

New marketing website for Southwest Virginia

Earlier this month, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority announced the kick-off of its new Southwest Virginia Promise website, which has the facts to convince businesses that Southwest Virginia is a great place to be.

One employer linked to that site whose product interests me the most is the Tempur-Pedic outfit from over at Duffield.

Navy keeps dinner blessing despite 4th Circuit ruling

According to this report, the U.S. Naval Academy will continue to have a blessing before dinner, notwithstanding the court rulings in the VMI case, which are now being appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Virginia budget gap of $1 billion foreseen for 2005-06

According to this AP report, Governor Warner will tell the legislature yet again that there is still not enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth's spending obligations without cutbacks or revenue increases.

Should Republicans nominate a Northern Virginian for statewide office in 2005?

The Washington Post had this article last week, in which some Northern Virginia Republicans were urging that one of their own should be the party's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2005.

The article explains:

"They may be too late. Although it will be two years before the major parties decide their '05 tickets, state Sen. Bill Bolling (R) of the Richmond area has already lined up the support of many grass-roots activists with a staunchly conservative message of no new taxes and restrained government spending.

Bolling has also built alliances with other lawmakers by donating to their campaigns through his Virginia Conservative Action political action committee.

A lot can happen between now and nominating season, and Bolling has no lock on the No. 2 spot. But he would be formidable, especially if Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R), a gubernatorial contender, and other party leaders opt for a nominating convention rather than a primary election. A convention would play to the organizational strength of the Republican right wing; a primary would automatically give a boost to a candidate from a vote-rich region such as Northern Virginia.

The leading proponent of getting a Washington suburbanite on the '05 ticket is Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-District 11), who has his eye on an eventual U.S. Senate run and increasingly is using his standing as a regional and national player to influence downstate affairs.

Republican sources said that on at least two occasions, Davis has suggested strongly to Kilgore that he take care to include a Northern Virginian on the ticket. (A Republican state delegate from Virginia Beach and a Richmond lawyer are battling for the attorney general nomination, leaving the lieutenant governor position basically the only one available to someone.)

Davis's logic is selfish and strategic. Selfish, because he doesn't entirely trust Richmond to look out for the interests of Virginia's economic engine -- one that is also plagued by monstrous traffic congestion, huge social service demands and an educational infrastructure badly in need of major repairs."

Judge Moon orders disclosure to wrongfully-convicted man

Last week, Judge Moon of the W.D. Va. ordered the Virginia State Police to disclosure to Earl Washington the name of the convicted rapist whose DNA was found at the scene of the crime for which Washington was jailed for years before he was pardoned based on the DNA evidence, as reported here in the Washington Post.

At least it's not a Wal-Mart

The prospect of a Hooters restaurant in Williamsburg has some in county government looking for a way to stop them, according to this story in the Williamsburg Gazette, while others say the county is powerless to discriminate against Hooters so long as the proposed use of the property is within existing zoning.

Odd connection between candidates for Republican chairmanship

I knew that that the father of Kate Obenshain Griffin died in a plane crash, but what I didn't know was that the father of Richard Neel, Griffin's opponent for the post of party chairman, was one of the pilots, until I read this column.

One Canadian's view of Thomas Jefferson

It says here, more or less, that Thomas Jefferson was just plain no good, and that columnist George Will is no good, and much of the Bush administration is no good, and the French revolution was no good, and the American electoral system is no good, and the CIA . . . .

I'm guessing this writer did not attend the University.

How can the online calendar be wrong on a guilty plea

The Roanoke Times has this story on confusion following the appearance in the online calendar of a notation that one of the co-defendants of Dr. Cecil Knox was going to plead guilty, when in fact she wasn't.

Well, this doesn't sound like much of a story to me. The few times I've seen something related to one of my federal cases on the calendar or the docket that did not make sense to me, I've called the clerk's office, and either they explained it to me or they changed it, if necessary after consulting with the judge, or so I understand. There's nothing sinister about such things. The constant dance of scheduling is one of the most inefficient things that goes on in litigation, the opportunities for someone to make a misstep are many.

The role of magistrates in Virginia's criminal justice system

The Winchester paper has this detailed article on the role of Virginia's magistrates, who are often not lawyers (but increasingly less so) and work all hours, mostly at the jails, deciding whether to grant warrant applications and setting bail bonds.

Son of WV Congressman sought in Virginia, out on bond in WV

As reported here, the son of WV Congressman Rahal is allowed to stay at home in connection with arrest on a fugitive warrant from Virginia.

It seems to me I once examined the issue of whether the circuit court could set a bond for a fellow who was to be extradited to one of the New England states, and for better or worse either I lost on the issue or gave it up. My recollection is that the man got into some trouble in Bristol and while in jail the authorities figured out there were these old outstanding warrants on him from this other state. It took almost as long for the other state to decide whether they wanted him as it did for the guy to get back to Bristol after he was taken up there. (My advocacy did not prevent his extradition.)

Virginia Democrats vow to get in the faces of Virginia Republicans

This AP report by Bob Lewis says that the leaders of Virginia's Democrats are declaring their determination to get in the faces of Republicans particularly on the issue of education funding. The article notes that Governor Warner "enters his third General Assembly session still looking for a major legislative policy victory as a legacy for the single four-year term he is allowed by state law."

Studies show taxes are lower in Virginia for the rich and for the poor

According to this report in the Washington Post, "despite its image of operating on a soak-the-poor tax policy, several studies have found that the total tax burdens of Virginians -- state and local -- are at most income levels just plain lower than those of D.C. and Maryland residents."

Oliver Hill and others recall the March on Washington

Richmond lawyer Oliver Hill, now 96, and others from Richmond recall the March on Washington in August, 1963, in this story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Why the NCAA report has not much to do with Virginia

Sports columnist David Teel from the Daily Press explains here why the NCAA's conclusion that big-time sports does not do much for America's universities is particularly skewed with regard to, say, U.Va. and Virginia Tech, which get no (direct) money from the Commonwealth.