Saturday, August 07, 2004

More on Operation Big Coon Dog - AP report from Hurley

The AP has this report on the effects of flooding and the Operation Big Coon Dog scandal on Hurley, Virginia, a community in Buchanan County.

School bus drivers sue Norfolk for overtime pay

The Norfolk paper reports here ("Current, former bus drivers sue Norfolk over overtime pay," 8/7/04) that twenty present and former school bus drivers have sued the Norfolk school system for unpaid overtime.

The article notes that "Their attorney, Jamie Shoemaker , said they were not paid for time spent washing their buses, getting gas or driving from the transportation center to the schools, among other tasks."

VSB suspends lawyer for three years for misconduct in his own divorce case

The Norfolk paper reports here ("Beach lawyer faces 3-year suspension for ethics violations," 8/7/04) on a Virginia Beach lawyer who drew a three-year suspension for acting up while representing himself in his own divorce case. The suspension has been stayed pending appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The article notes: "Barrett was accused of filing frivolous pleadings, threatening opposing counsel with disciplinary charges solely to gain an advantage, and communicating improperly with a judge and the opposing party during his divorce proceedings. Barrett also was twice found in contempt of court for failing to pay spousal and child support, according to the bar complaint."

On his website, the lawyer apparently calls his firm "The Injury Law Institute of Virginia, PC," and says "The Injury Law Institute of Virginia, PC, is your gateway to the premiere personal injury law firm in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Custody battle between same-sex couple may tee up constitutional issue in Virginia

The Washington Post reports here ("Custody Case Puts Civil Union on Trial," 8/7/04) on a case that might result in a Virginia court having to decide whether to give effect to the custody ruling of another state's court as between members of a same-sex couple.

Clemson Coach Bowden on law school admissions

According to this article in a South Carolina, Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden is bummed that his son is going to law school at Regent:

Tommy Bowden’s son, Ryan, will graduate from Clemson today, although his dad was a bit miffed about his law school options. Ryan will attend Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., after being turned down by South Carolina and Florida State.

“I just found out what winning does as far as ramifications for professional decisions,” Tommy Bowden said, laughing. “He applied at South Carolina, we beat South Carolina, got turned down. Applied to Florida State, beat Florida State, got turned down. I should have applied to Wake. They’ve got a great law school.”

Tommy said he wanted Ryan to attend South Carolina.

“He had a 3.35 (grade-point average) and good LSATs,” Tommy said. “It’s not like he would have embarrassed anybody.”

Friday, August 06, 2004

Fourth circuit throws out big fines for post-settlement destruction of evidence

In the wacky case of Bradley v. American Household Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Wilkinson, joined by Judge Luttig and Judge Michael, reversed the large sanctions imposed by the district court against the defendant three years after the case was settled and dismissed, for the defendants' conduct in destroying some evidence.

Rare reversal in immigration case

In Camara v. Ashcroft, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Niemeyer, joined by Chief Judge Wilkins and Judge Traxler, ordered a new hearing for a woman from Guinea whose evidence was not properly considered by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

She likes the boys in the band, she says that I'm her all-time favorite. . .

Almost exactly 23 years ago, the song that was played over and over and at top volume during the "rest" session between two-a-day football practices was "Super Freak" by Rick James, who died today.

More Virginia lawyer bashing from the Washington Post

The Post has this editorial following up on its earlier series about how the poor in Virginia are getting ripped off by bad lawyers. This editorial deals mostly with ethics charges against one lawyer in particular, and concludes: "Mr. Robinson is an extreme example, but as our study has shown, he is far from the state's only defense lawyer who frequently tosses a client's rights away. The inevitable result is injustice for such lawyers' hapless clients."

Chief Justice Hassell checks out public defender's office

The Leesburg paper has this report ("Top Judge Visits Local PD Office," 8/5/04) on the personal visit by Chief Justice Leroy Hassell to the premises of a public defender's office in Northern Virginia.

Virginia Beach schools pay $250,000 for OT

The Norfolk paper reports here ("Beach schools set to give workers overdue OT," 8/5/04) that the Virginia Beach schools are to pay out $250,000 for overtime before school starts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Title IX and hunting zebras

The Charlottesville paper reports here ("Battle of sexes wages on," 8/3/04) that a University of Virginia politics professor has written a book that says, among other things that "Title IX, the groundbreaking gender equity statute, harms men’s marriageability by cutting the number of sports opportunities available to them, activities that lessen male aggression."

One of the General Lees confiscated at Dukesfest

The Bristol paper has this story ("'Stand Up General' Lee confiscated in Bristol," 8/4/04) of how one of the General Lee stuntcars at this past weekend's Dukesfest at Bristol Motor Speedway is the subject of a legal dispute.

The other John Edwards

Ed Lynch has this column ("Another ambitious John Edwards, 8/3/04) in the Roanoke paper that says, among other things, that the John Edwards from Roanoke running for Attorney General in Virginia in 2005 "has an inflated, arrogant and totally unwarranted image of his own accomplishments." And, it goes downhill from there.

Lynch notes that Edwards did not appreciate it when one of Lynch's college students asked him about his co-patronage of a bill in the General Assembly to make the turtle Virginia's official state reptile.

On lemonade and Bluefield

In this story, the authors went searching for lemonade in Bluefield, WV, where the town famously serves lemonade when the temperature gets above 90 degrees.

More fun in the halls of local government in Tennessee

Following up on yesterday's story of the botched terror drill, I see this AP story via this post from Jaded JD that says a city council chairman on the other side of the state thought to call the bomb squad when he learned a bunch of Iraqis were in City Hall.

U.S. Education Department counts 1.1 million home-school students

The Department of Education has this report estimating the number of home-schooled students last year at roughly $1.1 million.

Still more on Blakely and the Fourth Circuit's approach

Via Yahoo, the Washington Post has this article with accounts of and commentary on the Fourth Circuit's temporary disposition in the Hammoud case of the Blakely issue as applied to the U.S. sentencing guidelines.

Also, the Lynchburg paper has this report ("Court clarifies ruling," 8/4/04), on the Hammoud order, noting that Judge Moon of the W.D. Va. "said he has delayed about three sentencings since the Blakely decision." (Those three sentencings might now be six sentencings).

Thursday seminar

On Thursday, Jim Elliott, Greg Haley, and I will present this seminar in Roanoke, dealing with the Virginia Public Procurement Act.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

When I lived on Merrimac Trail in Williamsburg, I ate here every week

The Daily Press has this article on one of my favorite places to eat during my law school days, the Queen Anne Dairy Snack (or however it is spelled), est. 1951. It is a great milkshake place, the likes of which I cannot find around here.

In the interests of fair disclosure, I should also say that back in those days I was not the stick figure I am now, and this place was a contributing factor.

Freakshow at Carter County, TN commissioners meeting

The Kingsport paper has this incredible story ("Hostage drill, gunshot throw Carter meeting into chaos," 8/3/04), the gist of which is that the director of the emergency management agency for the county decided it would be a good idea "as a drill" to stage an armed invasion of the county commissioners' meeting, attended by 100+ unsuspecting people, shout a bunch of anti-tax stuff, and fire off a blank pistol.

The director said, "We live in a different world after 9-11." There's no question that he lives in a different world.

Maybe he was posturing for a job in one of the jurisdictions to be included in this Homeland Security exercise.

Vick suspended, pleads guilty on reckless driving

The Daily Press reports here ("Marcus Vick suspended, then pleads guilty to reckless driving charges," 8/3/04) that having been suspended for the semester by Virginia Tech, Marcus Vick subsequently entered a guilty plea in the reckless driving case against him in New Kent County. In Virginia, speeding over 80 mph is reckless driving.

Chief Judge Jones rules for company not a related person under the Coal Act

In Harman Mining Corp. v. Barnhart, Chief Judge Jones ruled in favor of a coal company in an action the assignment of beneficiaries under the Coal Act. The Funds claimed the plaintiff was a "related person" to the employer of the beneficiaries, but apparently didn't have any evidence at all about any shareholders who owned stock in both companies.

More on 4th Circuit and USSG

The Richmond paper has this article on the Fourth Circuit's order in the Hammoud case yesterday, concluding that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines are not unconstitutional under Blakely.

Eleventh Circuit rules no excessive force in hog-tying case reports here on a Fourth Amendment ruling by the Eleventh Circuit in a case where the plaintiff's decedent "died after his hands were cuffed behind his back and tied to ankle restraints."

Not many missed graduating because of SOLs

The Washington Post reports here ("SOLs Keep Few From Graduating In N.Va.," 8/3/04) that quite few Northern Virginia high school seniors were denied diplomas because of their failure to pass the Standards of Learning tests.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Not just a party, it's a festival

The Virginia Highlands Festival is going on this week, as it does this time every year.

On Saturday, we went into town for some lemonade from the steak sandwich and gyros lady who works the food court every year and to the bookstore where lawyer Frank Kilgore and his co-author Kathy Shearer were signing their new book, Far Southwest Virginia: A Postcard Journey. It is a good book - buy one.

County complains about state funding for education, then cuts local funding after state money increases

The Daily Press has this report ("School cuts in IW irritate lawmakers," 8/2/04) on a Virginia county that complained about legislators not funding education, then cut back on funding for education.

I wonder whether the same thing has happened elsewhere in Virginia.

Not connecting Kilgore to matters not proved

The Norfolk paper has this article that says John Gregory is the main contributor to Jerry Kilgore, and Gregory's management of King Pharmaceuticals is the subject of securities litigation against the publicly-traded company.

This is a very odd article.

Chief Judge Jones grants summary judgment for jailers in detainee death case

In Stiltner v. Crouse, Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. granted the motions for summary judgment of jailers from Buchanan County, where plaintiff failed to prove they were responsible for the death of a woman at the Buchanan County jail.

The plaintiff argued, among other things, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, that the jailers must have been negligent if the woman in the cell died of strangulation. The Court concluded the death remains a mystery, and so the plaintiff has not proven a case against the jailers.

Deathrow inmate can have section 1983 claim challenging method of execution

Applying Nelson v. Campbell, 124 S. Ct. 2117 (2004), in Reid v. Johnson, the Fourth Circuit held in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Chief Judge Wilkins and Judges Gregory and Shedd that the plaintiff/appellant could bring a section 1983 claim challenging the specific method of his execution as unconstitutional.

Fourth Circuit rules Christmas tree growers were agricultural workers exempt from FLSA

In U.S. Department of Labor v. North Carolina Growers Ass'n, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Williams, joined by Judge Widener and Senior Judge Beezer from the Ninth Circuit, held that employees of Christmas tree growers in North Carolina were agricultural workers exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The AP has this story on the case.

Fourth Circuit rejects Tenth Amendment argument in telephone rate case

In Verizon Maryland, Inc. v. Global Naps, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Michael, joined by Judge Gregory and with Judge Luttig concurring in part and dissenting in part, affirmed that there was federal jurisdiction under the Telecommunications Act for an action challenge the state agency action setting telephone rates and that the statutory scheme did not violate the Tenth Amendment.

Fourth Circuit says USSG not invalidated by Blakely

Sentencing Law and Policy has this post about today's same-day ruling by the Fourth Circuit on the validity of the federal sentencing guidelines, and quotes from a reader who said: "The Fourth Circuit, mere hours after hearing en banc argument in US v. Hammoud, holds that it will not overturn the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in that case. It has issued an order to that effect, with opinions to follow later. District courts are also instructed ('recommended') to issue alternative sentences, in the event the Guidelines are not mandatory."

BTQ has this account of the play-by-play at oral argument before the en banc court.

Supreme Court sets Blakely Round 2 argument for October 4

SCOTUSBlog says here that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken on the federal sentencing consequences of Blakely and will hear oral argument in two cases on October 4.

The question the Court will consider, again according to SCOTUSBlog, are these:

"1. Whether the Sixth Amendment is violated by the imposition of an enhanced sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines based on the sentencing judge’s determination of a fact (other than a prior conviction) that was not found by the jury or admitted by the defendant.

2. If the answer to the first question is ‘yes,’ the following question is presented: whether, in a case in which the Guidelines would require the court to find a sentence-enhancing fact, the Sentencing Guidelines as a whole would be inapplicable, as a matter of severability analysis, such that the sentencing court must exercise its discretion to sentencing the defendant within the maximum and minimum set by statute for the offense of conviction."

20 questions with Judge Easterbrook

For the handful of regular readers of this blog who somehow don't read How Appealing, run (don't walk) to this link for the delightful interview with Judge Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit.

President Bush's all-time favorite U.Va. football game

This report suggests it was the last-second loss at Texas in 1995. That's harsh.

Margaret Edds takes on Jerry Kilgore

Author and commentator Margaret Edds of the Norfolk paper has this Sunday column ("Kilgore deflects bullets en route to nomination," 8/1/04) with her list of "distractions" faced by AG Jerry Kilgore en route to the nomination for governor next year.

Of course, I wouldn't expect Margaret Edds to speak well of AG Kilgore, if based on nothing more than what she describes as her views of the Earl Washington case.

Profile of small-town, pickup-driving, retired Virginia judge

The Richmond paper has this profile ("As the region changed, a judge forced changes," 8/2/04) of retired Judge Robert G. O'Hara, Jr., formerly of the Sixth Circuit.

Outstanding trial lawyer Rasmussen dies at 57

As reported here in the Daily Progress ("Lawyer, political leader dies," 8/2/04) one of Virginia's finest died in Charlottesville over the weekend. One of his proteges won the $8 million verdict in the Wintergreen case earlier this month.

Lammers gets quoted in the Daily Press

In this Daily Press article ("Federal sentences in question," 8/1/04) on the effect of Blakely on the federal sentencing in Virginia cases, the author quotes CrimLaw's Ken Lammers. Check out CrimLaw here to find what he really meant by saying that Blakely is a tempest in a teapot" and more of what he has to say on this subject.

On congressional debates in the Ninth District

The Kingsport paper reports here ("Triplett says Boucher dodging debates," 8/2/04) that Republican candidate Kevin Triplett is frustrated because he cannot get Congressman Boucher to come and debate him. The article says that Congressman Boucher "will do as he always has in an election year and participate in a single debate in the fall." Of course, in 1984, his first re-election campaign, Congressman Boucher debated Republican Jeff Stafford all over the place, something like 10 or 12 times. I wrote a college paper on the Boucher '84 campaign.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Congressman Boucher hits the blogging bigtime

From this Denise Howell post, I connected to this Lawrence Lessig post, which says that his guest-bloggers for August will include Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit and our own Congressman Rick Boucher of the Ninth District of Virginia. Congressman Boucher makes headlines in the IP world these days for trying to pull back the tentacles of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

I'm not sure how many people here in the Fightin' Ninth read Lawrence Lessig (or Bag and Baggage), but I do, sometimes - enough to know he was really bummed about losing that Supreme Court case on the constitutional validity of copyright extension. (Actually, I read Bag and Baggage every day.)