Saturday, February 12, 2005

William & Mary Law will have symposium on displays of the Ten Commandments

According to this press release, William & Mary Law School will host a symposium on public displays of the Ten Commandments, and the headliners on the panel are Nadine Strossen and Jay Sekulow.

Holy catbirds, that's a made-for-TV clash of the titans right there, or is it? If he's not well-prepared (and perhaps he always is), Mr. Sekulow may need to stash some extra Twinkies in his briefcase, because Ms. Strossen will eat his lunch.

Virginia argues that the Establishment Clause does not wholly constrain the states?

In a Findlaw column titled Virginia's Bizarre Claim to the Supreme Court Asserting that the Establishment Clause Does Not Constrain the States, the author claims that in an amicus brief filed by the Commonwealth involving the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Virginia takes the position that "the states should have broad latitude to institute religious programming in the state prisons, without federal government intervention like RLUIPA," and in support of this view, Virginia claims that "the Establishment Clause does not wholly apply to the states," citing the dissenting opinion by Justice Thomas in the Pledge of Allegiance case.

Why not Patrick Henry, George Washington, or Robert E. Lee?

The Richmond paper reports here that among the candidates to become judges in this session of the General Assembly are Virginia lawyers named John Marshall and George Mason.

Apparently, although a Patrick Henry, a George Washington, and a Robert E. Lee are listed in Martindale as Virginia lawyers, I have not read that any of them are candidates for judgeships this year.

Bluefield paper takes a stand against litigation frivolity

Here the Bluefield paper editorializes against frivolous lawsuits in West Virginia.

On omitted names from newspapers

The Kingsport paper has this piece which lauds a sports reporter for leaving out the name of the school kid who committed the foul that cost the big Kingsport high school a basketball game.

By contrast, the Bristol paper wants to print every detail about an accused school teacher. Today's editorial does not acknowledge that the rights of the accused (and the accuser) are affected by the kind of publicity which the newspaper has chosen to give this case. I suspect that the newspaper has only itself to blame for the juvenile court's decision to close the preliminary hearing to the media.

More on the verb to lynch

A Lynchburg lawyer writes that he is "reading James Elson's recent history of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia: The First Two Hundred Years, 1786-1986. The book contains an interesting discussion of the origin of the term 'lynch law' and its verbal form 'to lynch.'

According to Elson, there are several candidates, 'the best-documented historical figure for giving his name to 'lynch law' is undoubtedly Colonel Charles Lynch.' Charles Lynch was the older brother of John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg and the person for whom the city is named.

Colonel Lynch was not a judge. Rather, he represented Bedford County in the House of Burgesses and was a colonel in the Bedford militia. As part of his duties with the militia, he was responsible for 'suppressing agitation by local Tories.' This he accomplished by holding 'extra-legal hearings' at his estate in present-day Altavista. Tories were tied to a tree and given thirty-nine lashes. A Tory could stop the lashings by proclaiming 'Liberty forever!' While there were rumblings that Colonel Lynch may have presided over some hangings, there exists no such historical evidence.

In 1782, the Virginia legislature passed a law indemnifying Colonel Lynch and others for their actions. The law stated that Colonel Lynch's actions 'were not strictly warranted by law, although justifiable from the imminence of the danger.'"

The dance of legislation

Virginia Isn't for Bullies, a blog by the dad who is supporting the anti-bullying bills, makes me think of a book I read in college, The Dance of Legislation - which I understand was updated in 2000, thirty years after it was first published.

Friday, February 11, 2005

More from the Post on the Virginia justice system

The Washington Post has this editorial in its continuing series on the Virginia criminal justice system, highlighting the Senate bill that would provide relief from missing some appeal deadlines.

First one out with the D word

Nothing I've read lately bodes well for the Baril for AG campaign. Brandon posted a rumor that Baril was paying his "volunteers." Today, the AFP says here that the Baril camp is daring the McConnell camp to a series of debates.

From everything I've ever read or heard, the candidate pressing for the debates is the one who thinks he's behind, and is hoping for the big inning, the deep pass, the halfcourt buzzer beater, and the late round knockout, to overcome the other candidate's lead.

Also, I don't understand how anybody from a really big Richmond law firm could make the claim to be more qualified as the next "people's lawyer" (i.e., the truer populist?) and somehow less of an "insider" than a small firm lawyer from Virginia Beach (who went to Regent). Am I the only one who thinks that is really strange? The Williams Mullen firm just got all of this publicity from Jerry Kilgore joining over there, and some its partners are recognized as the foremost lobbyists, and yet a Williams Mullen partner is running for statewide office as an "outsider." This campaign theme strikes me as wrongheaded, not only because it is contradicted by this background of facts but also because it seems like a waste. If I was a Williams Mullen partner running for Attorney General, I just might say this: that the law firm is outstanding in all that it does and I'm proud of its work and my goal if elected is for the AG's office to do for Virginia what Williams Mullen does for its clients.

Perhaps I am being both naive and dishonest - probably the first thing I'd do if I ran for statewide office would be to go out and buy some cowboy boots.

Former judge Askew sues her accuser and the Newport News paper

The AP reports here that former Circuit Court judge Verbena Askew has sued the woman who accused her of something or other and also the Daily Press for reporting something or other about her - read the article and don't look for the details here.

Actually, it says that she is claiming breach of confidentiality by the newspaper. Holy catbirds, can there be such a claim, and on what theory? Breach of contract?

Virginia Supreme Court justices in Abingdon for BLI

As shown here, Chief Justice Hassell and Justice Kinser will be among those on the program at the upcoming Bar Leadership Institute in Abingdon on March 18.

Another segment will be on the topic of "What is the Virginia State Bar Doing for You," featuring, among others, the last president - Jeannie Dahnk from Fredericksburg, the current president - David Bobzien from Fairfax County, the next president - Phil Anderson from Roanoke, and Bill Bradshaw, a member of Bar Council from Big Stone Gap. Apparently, they've got 6 speakers to fill 30 minutes answering the question.

Virginia Supreme Court Review by telephone

Here is the scoop on an upcoming telephone seminar from VTLA on new stuff from the Virginia Supreme Court.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Still my favorite Tech student

The Washington Post has this update on Rayna Dubose at Virginia Tech.

I've posted every Rayna Dubose article I've seen since this blog began.

Dean Reveley and Gene Nichol among W&M finalists

The Virginia Gazette reports here that the law school's Dean, Taylor Reveley, and a one-time law school professor are among the finalists to become the president of the College of William & Mary. Gene Nichol was among the law faculty back when I started in Williamsburg in 1986, now he is at North Carolina. Both Dean Reveley and Nichol were at the Fourth Circuit judicial conference two years ago, talking about the woes of their lot as law school deans.

Capital offense

Via Ray, this AL& P post describes an opinion in which, among other things, the Court zinged the Government for failure to capitalize the word "Court:"

"Judge Gilmore further used this opportunity to excoriate the Government for its lack of decorum, and also for its incorrect capitalization as mandated by The Bluebook. See, e.g., Dec. 29, 2004, Order at 5 n.1 (“In addition to capitalizing ‘Court’ when naming any court in full or when referring to the U.S. Supreme Court, practitioners should also capitalize ‘Court’ in a court document when referring to the court that will be receiving that document.” The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation P. 6(a) at 17 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 17th ed. 2000)”)."

Best city sticker ever

Via the Norfolk paperPosted by Hello

Underpants bill gets dropped

The AP reports here that a Senate committee did in the droopy drawers bill passed by the House.

The article did not mention whether the Senators were concerned that a ban on exposed drawers would, as suggested by many, cause more Virginians to go without.

More on the underwear law

More fun poked at the House of Delegates:

Yer drawls are showin!

Cover up Virginians

Crackdown on Underwear in Virginia

Sartorial Elegance

Bad Pants

Under It All

"bustin' a sag"

Laws of Fashion

Caught With Your Pants Down

Moon Over Virginia

Baggy rude and illegal?

Baggy Pants Illegal?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Virginia attorney and politician Gil Davis fights for religious freedom

This press release proves it.

Judge Combs retiring from General District Court in Tazewell

This post from the excellent Southwest Virginia news site says that Tazewell County General District Court Judge Fred Combs has announced that he will retire as of June 30, 2005.

The article says: "Jack S. (Chip), Hurley Jr., a Bluefield attorney, Henry Barringer from Tazewell, Karel Ryan of Tazewell and Richlands attorneys Shannon Cooke and Shea Cook are among the candidates."

Droopy drawers posts

Some blog commentary on the droopy drawers law that is making its way through the General Assembly:

Virginians' underwear gets national attention

VA Introduces Anti-Underpants Bill

I see Paris, I see France ...

'Droopy drawers' bill an end to overexposure of underwear?

Caught With Your Pants Down

Way To Go, VA

Virginia Takes On The Serious Problems

Apparently stupidity is catching…

Origin of the verb to lynch

It says here: "But lynching is primordially a US invention--Larousse in fact defines it as 'summary justice, peculiar to the United States.' The Spanish verb linchar is a corruption of the English surname 'Lynch,' for Captain Charles Lynch, a Virginia judge during the American revolutionary war who advocated summary executions for those who stood with the British."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Counsel for the Kilgore campaign

Ashley Taylor is the counsel for the Jerry Kilgore for Governor campaign - a VMI and Washington & Lee graduate.

Maybe they can get Ralph Stanley for a similar event in Grundy

In the small world department, here is a law school offering regarding Bruce Springsteen from the Widener School of Law in Harrisburg, PA.

Way back when, I lived in Lancaster (which is almost Harrisburg), and there was some live music bar there where legend had it that Bruce Springsteen would show up unadvertised from time to time and jam with the regular band there, which was called the Sharks.

I went in there one time, sometime between 1985 and 1988, and sure enough there was a band, and the front men were these two bearded guys, and they were singing a cover version of one of the songs from the pop band called Heart. And I said to the people with me, I'm not complaining or anything, but those two bearded guys sound just like the Wilson sisters, and that's really weird, two guys belting out in falsetto, "What about love, don't you want someone to care about you."

What, freedom of contract for employers to provide domestic partner benefits in Virginia?

Rick Sincere has this post on the passage today of SB 1338, which makes me wonder what happened to the all-encompassing homophobia attributed to the legislators of the Commonwealth, that they would allow a consenting insurer to engage openly in unlimited contractual relations for the benefit of unmarried persons.

Must be because of all those religion professors sitting around in there taking notes

According to this review, a new book called Bad for Us: The Lure of Self-Harm answers the question "why male students in the University of Virginia locker rooms work so hard at not letting other men see them naked."

Va. Tech columnist figures it out

The Collegiate Times offers this analysis of the gubernatorial race, which says among other things that the keys to the race may be cultural issues and rural white males.

More on name-calling

On the topic of calling people Nazis, via this Sandefur post, I see this column from the Washington Post, which makes the startling point that not even all the real Nazis are commonly called Nazis, just the unfashionable ones.

NPR reports on the Jeremy Davidson case from Wise County

Here can be seen and heard National Public Radio's take on the case of the Wise County boy who was killed by the rock from the strip mine.

Reductio ad hitlerum

Bacon is on the mark with this post that says the Democrats who called their colleagues Nazis are off the mark.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Federal death penalty case begins in Abingdon

The Richmond paper reports here ("Jury selection in killings to begin," 2/7/05) that jury selection began today in a federal death-penalty case that was moved from Harrisonburg to Abingdon because of pre-trial publicity.

The article says that the charges were brought under "the federal Violence Against Women Act."

The article doesn't say it, but the presiding judge is Judge Samuel G. Wilson.

The return of Shaula

From the left, Shaula has this post that says one important aspect of the 2005 elections in Virginia is whether the Democrats will retain a "veto-proof minority" in the House of Delegates.

Ron Meisburg as swing vote on NLRB

This post discusses the record of Ron Meisburg during his time as a recess appointee to the NLRB. Mr. Meisburg was nominated by the White House on January 24.

Lawyer representing victims of drunk drivers

The Norfolk paper has this account of a lawyer who represents the families of victims of drunk drivers and who is an advocate for stricter drunk driving laws.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Unsworn declarations and other matters

HB 2652 would allow the use of unsworn declarations in place of affidavits, in some circumstances, much in the manner of declarations under 28 U.S.C. 1746.

SB 790 amends Va. Code 8.01-428 to allow parties who somehow don't get notice of the entry of a final order up to 60 days to seek post-judgment relief, which would restart the clock for an appeal.

SB 827 would amend Va. Code 8.01-417 to require that parties who obtain documents by subpoena to send them to the other parties, upon written request (and payment of reasonable costs).

SB 1123 provides for waiver of service of process, in the manner of Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Recodification of Title 1

HB 2640 recodifies Title 1.

In case you wondering, two things will still be true, in the new Va. Code 1-200 and 1-201:

1. "The common law of England, insofar as it is not repugnant to the principles of the Bill of Rights and Constitution of this Commonwealth, shall continue in full force within the same, and be the rule of decision, except as altered by the General Assembly."


2. "The right and benefit of all writs, remedial and judicial, given by any statute or act of Parliament, made in aid of the common law prior to the fourth year of the reign of James the First, of a general nature, not local to England, shall still be saved, insofar as the same are consistent with the Bill of Rights and Constitution of this Commonwealth and the Acts of Assembly."

The Knights

In an unusual coincidence, one of Southwest Virginia's most distinguished lawyers went to the same Northern Virginia high school as my wife, which school is the subject of this commendation being considered in this session of the General Assembly.

Litigating the death penalty by the numbers

Prof. Althouse has this interesting post which says, among other things, that the defendant Atkins, of the Atkins v. Virginia case, now scores a 75 on his IQ test, which the prosecutor says is high enough to pass for his execution to pass constitutional muster.

On Friday, the Richmond paper had this report about the case. Today, the NY Times has this story ("Inmate's Rising I.Q. Score Could Mean His Death," 2/6/05) (registration required)

Under Va. Code 19.2-264.3:1.1, "mentally retarded" means "a disability, originating before the age of 18 years, characterized concurrently by (i) significantly subaverage intellectual functioning as demonstrated by performance on a standardized measure of intellectual functioning administered in conformity with accepted professional practice, that is at least two standard deviations below the mean and (ii) significant limitations in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills." Evidently, two standard deviations below the mean equals an IQ of 70.

Good thing his dad was not a proctologist

In this piece, the Washington Post takes Senator Allen to task for using too much football terminology.

Maybe Allen would do better with stories like this one:

"It reminds me of a story here in southwest Virginia about a horse thief. And the jury goes through the whole case and they say, 'Not guilty, but you have to return the horse.' And he's not guilty, but you have to pay for those gifts." -- Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics severely admonished Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) for violating gift rules by receiving cash and other favors from David Chang, a former campaign supporter and convicted felon.

Watchdogging the Virginia State Legislature

Via Waldo, Watchdogging the Virginia State Legislature is keeping score on the General Assembly.