Saturday, September 25, 2004

Osama bin Laden lookalike gets a 28-year sentence

The Lynchburg paper reports here ("Man dressed as bin Laden gets a 28-year sentence," 9/25/04) that the man who put a t-shirt on his head so he would look more like Osama bin Laden while he robbed a Lynchburg motel was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Malvo plan to avoid retrial, jeopardy of death penalty

The Richmond paper has this report ("Malvo waives appeals," 9/25/04), which tells me that the Malvo defense team decided that it doesn't want him retried somewhere where he might get the death penalty, having dodged it the first time, and so they want to make sure no one has any reason to pursue additional trials.

Prisoner gets death penalty for strangling gay cellmate

The Bristol paper reports here ("Armstrong gets death penalty," 9/25/04), the Kingsport paper reports here ("Red Onion inmate sentenced to death for killing cell mate," 9/25/04), and the AP reports here that a Wise County jury sentenced a Red Onion inmate to death for the murder by strangulation of his homosexual cellmate.

The defendant is reported to have said that prison has made him into a beast.

It is the first death sentence in Wise County in decades.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Legal guide for persons with IBD

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America publishes Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

I always listen when the Barbara Bush ad for CCFA comes on the radio. Apparently, at least in terms of guts, the Bush with whom I have the most in common is Marvin, whose surgery was far more drastic than mine.

There's a license plate for you in Tennessee

Howard Bashman has this post with links about the "Choose Life" license plate litigation in Tennessee, including the brief filed by the ACLU, which relies in large measure on the license plate jurisprudence of the Fourth Circuit in Planned Parenthood of South Carolina, Inc. v. Rose, 361 F.3d 786 (4th Cir. 2004) and Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. v. Comm’r of Va. Dep’t of Motor Vehicles, 288 F.3d 610 (4th Cir. 2002).

Waiting for the axe to fall

This commentary from the Falls Church paper suggests that the anti-tax activists like Grover Norquist (whose group put out this poster) "are aiming their hatchets at the heart of the Republican Party in Virginia," and the Democrats think that will be just fine.

When the regulators are also the regulated

This very interesting article considers Virginia and other states with respect to the extent to which state legislators consider matters in which they have some kind of "personal interest."

The article more or less says that Virginia is not very good on disclosure in this area, although it cites a new law sponsored by Del. McDonnell as a step in the right direction.

Where in the world is Lee Boyd Malvo?

According to this AP report, convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo is currently an inmate at one of the prisons in Southwest Virginia.

Campaign story from the election of 2004

The AP reports here: "Campaign literature mailed by the Republican National Committee warns voters in two states that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if 'liberals' win in November." The NY Times has a more detailed story here, which says among other things that "[t]he mailing seeks to appeal to conservative evangelical Protestant pastors and political leaders who say they worry that legal rights for same-sex couples could lead to hate-crimes laws that could be applied against sermons of Bible passages criticizing homosexuality."

This sounds like the story posted earlier from the election of 1800.

The liberals have been after those Bibles for over 200 years.

UPDATE: Documenting Democracy has this post.

So, where exactly would the woman from 1800 go to hide her Bible now?

VHSL shoots down appeals of Lee High and Virginia High

The Roanoke paper reports here and the Bristol paper reports here that the Virginia High School League has vetoed the applications of Lee High School from Lee County and Virginia High School from Bristol to get moved from AA to A.

Matt on Schiavo

Matt Conigliaro in Florida has this post with many links and thoughts about the Florida Supreme Court's decision in the Terry Schiavo case.

Gmail and privacy

Now that I have co-opted all my friends, acquaintances, and even a few strangers with Gmail invites, the ABA ejournal has this article on whether Gmail is significantly more or less private than other services.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Lawsuit filed challenging gun ban on JMU campus

The Virginia Young Democrats blog has this post with a link to this story about a lawsuit filed challenging the gun ban on the campus of James Madison University.

The article notes that the plaintiff has no lawyer, quoting him as saying: "This is too easy for a lawyer."

Vanity Fair on Bush v. Gore

Here is the SCOTUSblog post with links to the Vanity Fair article.

I was talking to a fellow this week who mentioned the Bartlit Beck firm, perhaps I'd heard of them. Of course, I said, they were the lawyers for George W. Bush in that trial down in Florida, I watched it on C-SPAN. If those guys try cases for another 100 years, they'll still be most famous for the one in Florida, which made a big impression on me, even though I guess it was not that big of a deal in the end, I don't think it was even mentioned in the Vanity Fair article.

More on the Virginia Creeper Trail

A North Carolina paper has this story on the trail from downtown Abingdon to White Top station, a great rail to trail project that has revitalized the Town of Damascus.

Earlier this week, I read in the Washington County News that one result of this phenomenon is the property values in Damascus are greatly increased, which will affect their tax appraisals.

Danville's broadband highlighted in USA Today

The Danville paper reports here ("River City goes national," 9/23/04) that the city's broadband network was the subject of this report in USA Today.

The USA Today article says, in part:

"Danville is on the leading edge of what is quickly becoming a broadband revolution. Frustrated by the slow speed of broadband rollouts in their towns, local governments across the USA are building their own networks. Their common goal: to secure a bright future by building a business-quality network now. . . .

By taking control of their broadband destinies, communities say, they no longer are at the mercy of the big providers. Regional phone company Verizon finally began offering DSL service in Danville in 2003, several years after the town first asked for it. Harry Mitchell, a Verizon spokesman, says the company can't be everywhere at once.

Beyond availability, the quality of service is a major driver. Residential high-speed services currently top out at about 3 megabits per second, with 7-megabit services just beginning to pop up. Download speeds are typically a lot slower.

That's not enough juice for businesses. Absent a high-quality network, their only option is to lease a costly T1 data line from the phone company. That works for big businesses and big users, but it is beyond the budgets of most midsize and small operations.

By designing and building municipal networks, communities say they can make technology choices that suit their needs — and aspirations."

Heisman Trophy comes to Southwest Virginia

The Roanoke paper reports here ("Fans can pose with Heisman at Tech," 9/23/04) that a traveling exhibit of college football's Heisman Trophy will be in Blacksburg this weekend.

Adelphia selling off Virginia cable systems

The Staunton paper reported here ("Adelphia selling off Virginia cable systems as part of Chap. 11 restructuring," 9/21/04) that Adelphia will sell its Virginia cable systems. Adelphia is the cable provider in Wise County, among other places in Southwest Virginia.

Fourth Circuit requires arbitration between NASD member and investors

In Washington Square Securities, Inc. v. Aune, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by District Judge Flanagan of the E.D.N.C., joined by Chief Judge Wilkins and Judge Luttig, sided with the investors and held that their claims against a member of the NASD was bound by the arbitration provisions of the agreement between the investors and an "associated person" of the member company.

A tale of two lawsuits - Judge Moon dismisses time-barred case without prejudice

In Payne v. Brake, Judge Moon of the W.D. Va. reached two very interesting conclusions.

First, he held that in the case before him, there was no tolling of the statute of limitations, because it was filed before and not after the entry of the nonsuit order in an earlier case between the same parties, and therefore there was no tolling under Va. Code 8.01-229(E)(3).

Second, he held that it was appropriate for the case to be dismissed WITHOUT prejudice, because in light of the nonsuit order in the first case, there was still time for the filing of a third case within the statute of limitations, as tolled by operation of 8.01-229(E)(3).

I had a somewhat similar case. In case no. 1, two plaintiffs were misjoined. On the same day as a hearing where the Court ruled the plaintiffs were misjoined, case no. 2 was filed for one of the plaintiffs. Some time later, the order dismissing (or dropping) the misjoined plaintiff was entered. I argued that there was no tolling for case no. 2, because it was filed before the dismissal of case no. 1, and therefore did not meet the requirements of Va. Code 8.01-229(E)(1). Alas, the case went away before there was a ruling on this argument, which is essence that the second case was untimely because it was filed too soon.

Why is George Washington holding a beach umbrella?

The Richmond paper reports here ("A pinpoint re-creation of Washington," 9/23/04) on a high-tech effort to reproduce the image of George Washington from the statue at the Virginia capitol.

Another legislative error discovered

The Norfolk paper reports here ("Car-tax snag leaves cities short," 9/23/04) on a complicated error by the legislature in new legislation related to car-tax reimbursement for some cities in Virginia.

Esmerelda in Abingdon

The Johnson City has this account the Barter Theatre's new production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The ethics of out-of-state subpoenas

This month's VTLA publication has this article on whether out of state subpoenas are unethical and unenforceable. The author recommends reading LEO 1495, which says, among other things, that "it would be improper and violative of DR 1-102(A)(4) for a Virginia attorney to request a Virginia court to issue a subpoena duces tecum to obtain documents from an out-of-state individual, knowing that such such subpoena is not enforceable, unless the subject of the subpoena has agreed to accept service."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Campaign story from 1800

In Thomas Jefferson : A Life, the following story is retold of the presidential election from 1800:

"A Federalist lady in a small Connecticut town was so terrified of what would happen to the family Bible if Jefferson became president that she took it to the only Jeffersonian she knew and asked him to hide it for her. The Jeffersonian tried to allay her fears about Jefferson, but she remained unconvinced.

'My good woman,' he finally said, 'if all the Bibles are to be destroyed, what is the use of bringing yours to me? That will not save it when it is found.'

'I'm sure it will,' she insisted. 'It will be perfectly safe with you. They'll never think of looking in the house of a Democrat for a Bible.'"

Money approved for list of Jefferson's books

The Charlottesville paper reports here on a grant awarded for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation to create a website listing all the books Thomas Jefferson had in his library (or libraries).

Superintendent wins, plaintiffs awarded $1 against teacher in alleged student harassment case

The Coalfield Progress reports here ("Jury ruling favors former school superintendent," 9/22/04) that in a case where some school students claim a teacher sexually harassed them in violation of their constitutional rights, the federal court jury in Big Stone Gap determined the school superintendent was not liable and that the teacher was liable only for nominal damages of $1 to each of the three plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs can seek attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988, but I'm not sure how much would be justified by an award of $1.

Fourth Circuit affirms dismissal of challenge to Voting Rights challenge to Va.'s 4th District

In Hall v. Commonwealth of Virginia, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Duncan, joined by Judges Niemeyer and Shedd, affirmed the dismissal of a challenge brought under the Voting Rights Act to redistricting in 2001 that moved a number of black voters out of Virginia's Fourth Congressional District.

Whatever happened to the Class of '88?

In this article, considers what became of the women law graduates from the Class of '88.

I'm not sure that the women from my Class of '89 fared any differently than did the men, but how would I know? Some of them are or were partners with big firms, some quit practicing years ago, I don't know what happened to the rest.

Sniper Muhammad case judge recuses himself

The Washington Times reports here ("Sniper judge recuses himself," 9/22/04) and the Washington Post reports here ("Judge Removes Himself From Va. Sniper Case," 9/22/04) that the trial court judge in the Fairfax County case against sniper John Muhammad has recused himself after he was accused of making an independent investigation related to the defendant's speedy trial defense.

The case has been reassigned to former VBA president Langhorne Keith.

At least they were both of the opposite sex

Via VLW, the Norfolk paper has this story ("Marriage to two women at once earns man suspended sentence," 9/22/04) of a Navy man convicted of bigamy.

The article does not say whether any constitutional issues were raised.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

On why not to give newspaper quotes about the court system

This article from the Johnson City paper begins: "Judge Bob Cupp took a lawyer to the woodshed Monday for saying in an interview that fewer criminal cases go to trial in the 1st Judicial District than in other districts."

Slashdot takes on the e-courtroom

This Slashdot exchange on the e-courtroom is just plain wild.

We had a fancy courtroom at my law school, which has only gotten better.

Buck pride

From Howard Bashman comes a link to this story from the Lancaster Pa. paper about six fellows who are being prosecuted for displaying their thong-clad bottoms before President Bush appeared at the elementary school down the road from where I went to high school.

Ah, but apparently these guys all lived in the City, and so I don't think it was an act of protest originating from within the friendly confines of the CV school district itself.

Some years ago, President Bush 41 gave this speech at Conestoga Valley High School, my alma mater.

This has nothing to do with Southwest Virginia, where so far as I know, not even Democratic activists wear thong underwear (and if they do, I prefer not to know of it).

Senator Puckett speaks in Charlottesville

The Charlottesville paper has this article ("Puckett says Kerry still has chance in Va.," 9/20/04) with excerpts from Senator Philip Puckett's views expressed at an event in Charlottesville. Senator Puckett is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2005.

When the hawks fly over Southwest Virginia

The Roanoke paper has this commentary ("When beauty seems doomed, look up to the sky," 9/20/04) about the migration of broadwinged hawks over Southwest Virginia in the last two weeks of September.

More on the current litigation regarding colonial treaty with Indians

The Daily Press has this story ("How a 1677 treaty could snag reservoir in court," 9/21/04) on the litigation with the Mattaponi Indians based in part on the terms of a treaty from 1677.

Google browser?

Slashdot has this exchange about whether Google is going to have its own web browser.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Whoa, blogger takes on commentator in Cavalier Daily

In this amusing exchange, the head of the College Republicans is bummed, claiming that Waldo spent more time reading his piece in the Cavalier Daily than the CR man spent writing it. Ah, youth.

Somehow, this reminds me of the exchange a few years back between a reporter for the Lebanon News and the Republican chairman of Russell County. The chairman complained that the reporter had not written about all of the speeches given at the nominating convention by the Republican candidates. The reporter replied that he didn't have time and the speeches were really boring, or words to that effect.

Wiccan who won in Fourth Circuit gets harassed at home

The State from down in SC reports here on the harassment suffered by the successful litigant who won before the Fourth Circuit in Wynne v. Great Falls against a town for its use of opening prayers at town council meetings.

More on the Commonwealth's effort to oust the trial judge from the second sniper Muhammad trial

The Washington Post has this article ("Prosecutors Sharpen Call for Removal of Sniper Judge in Fairfax," 9/19/04) with the latest on the efforts of prosecutors seeking the removal of the Fairfax circuit court judge who is presiding over the second case against sniper John Muhammad.

W.D. Va. prosecution of drug cases that result in death

Related to the earlier Len Bias post, the Roanoke paper has this article ("More cases fall under drug law," 9/19/04) that says: "Prosecutors in the Western District of Virginia have been making increasing use of a federal law that says if defendants are convicted of distribution of drugs that leads to death or serious bodily injury, they face a mandatory prison sentence of 20 years to life. The law was passed in 1986, in the wake of the cocaine overdose death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias."

More on the demise of the Pep Band

The Charlottesville paper had this editorial on the end of the U.Va. Pep Band as a sign of progress.

I went to the Akron game on Saturday and my impression of the U.Va. Marching Band is that they were very mediocre. I would be happier if they played less like the old Pep Band and more like these Cavaliers. They need to start recruiting like the football team, and get some wailing horn players, and play "Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor" (listen here to a Florida State version) instead of "We are Family" renditions, or whatever it was they were playing on Saturday.

$8.3 million verdict against Wintergreen survives post-trial motions

The Charlottesville paper reports here ("$8.3 million verdict upheld," 9/18/04) that the verdict from a ski accident at Wintergreen has gotten past the post-trial motions addressed to the trial court judge, with some likelihood of an appeal to follow.

Two degrees of separation for Virginia Beach circuit court judges

The Norfolk paper reports here ("Ex-delegate Buster O?Brien appointed to Beach Circuit Court," 9/18/04) that Governor Warner has appointed William O'Brien to the Circuit Court for Virginia Beach.

The article notes:

"O’Brien, 58, is a well-known Beach political figure, who was elected four times and served six years in the House of Delegates. He ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in 1985.

He also is a Virginia college football legend whose name has been mentioned on ESPN’s SportsCenter. O’Brien was a star quarterback at the University of Richmond, where he graduated in 1968. He graduated from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary in 1974.

O’Brien is the latest in a long line of Circuit Court judges who once practiced law with Richard G. Brydges. At least six current or former Circuit judges worked with Brydges at some point in their careers.

Brydges, 82, still practices law at the Beach, but has recently been sidelined with health concerns."

Richmond paper's take on the lawyers in the big DOJ v. tobacco case

The Richmond paper has this article on the legal firepower representing the litigants in the Department of Justice case against the tobacco companies.

The article begins: "The cast of key players in the trial of the government's $280 billion racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry will feature some of the nation's top litigators," and lists Dan Webb, Theodore V. Wells, Jr., Robert F. McDermott, Jr., David M. Eubank, and the DOJ's Sharon Y. Eubanks.

Coal country tourism

According to this article ("Preservation magazine article features West Virginia coal country tourism," 9/18/04) from the Bluefield paper, Preservation magazine is offering a somewhat mixed review of the status and prospects for tourism in coal country.

In the magazine article, the author begins: "Bluefield, W. Va., isn't exactly a tourist mecca."

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail

In this article ("Director says trail is state's 'hottest' development project," 9/18/04), the Bluefield paper updates the progress of the Hatfield-McCoy trails in Southwest West Virginia.

The Len Bias effect

The last college basketball game I saw as a college student was the last home game for Len Bias at the University of Maryland. He never played in the NBA, dying of a cocaine overdose, after he was drafted to play with the Boston Celtics.

The Roanoke paper has this article ("Attorney: Law after Bias' death caused prison swell," 9/19/04) with an explanation that federal drug law was made more severe in 1986 in response to Bias' death.

Language interpreters in Southwest Virginia courtrooms

The Roanoke Times has this article ("Open to interpretation? Courtroom jobs fill niche," 9/19/04) on language interpreters in the courtrooms of Southwest Virginia.

Soldier from Grundy an inspirational figure

The Roanoke paper has this article ("'Heath is a lot like the town of Grundy itself: We don't quit'", 9/19/04) on a soldier from Grundy who lost both legs in Iraq.

It says in part:

"Less than one year after losing both legs in Iraq at age 24, [Heath] Calhoun has not only learned to walk and drive on prosthetic legs, but he's also snowboarded, waterskied and recently cycled more than 30 miles in a single day. Calhoun's amazing recovery has inspired the other amputees with whom he volunteers. And if the size of the crowd welcoming back their native son to Grundy on Saturday is any indication, he's become a source of pride to a community that has also faced devastating floods, fires, even a triple murder, and emerged determined to rebuild."

On flooding in Appalachia

The Christian Science Monitor has this report ("Ruin and rescue in Appalachia's floods," 9/20/04) focusing on the flooding in Western Carolina from Hurricane Ivan.

What I want for Christmas

Boingboing reports here on the forthcoming complete Calvin and Hobbes.

It's a deal

I liked this Atrios post, which says, more or less, if Bush is re-elected, can we agree that everything that happens after November 3 is his fault?

Bloggers biased?

Via How Appealing, the Chicago Tribune has this article ("True or false: Blogs always tell it straight," 9/19/04) which makes me think yet again that these mainstream media people don't get blogging.