Saturday, February 11, 2006

Anatomy of an electronic filing notice

The W.D. Va. and the E.D. Tenn. and most other federal courts now have in place the CM/ECF system, one great feature of which is that it sends out notices like this one (with annotations by PDF for Lawyers) for every document that gets filed.

Having another go at the Solomon Amendment in Williamsburg

My alma mater, William & Mary School of Law, is having another conference on the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. A judge from the Third Circuit, from whence the FAIR case was decided, will serve as moderator.

The last one they had (so far as I know) ended with an 8-0 vote by a group of famous Supreme Court reporters that the law schools would lose before the Supreme Court.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Congressman Boucher says no to tiered internet

If you can read this, you probably agree with Congressman Boucher's column from The Hill stating his opposition to the telcos' efforts to create a multi-tiered Internet.

I know my Virginia blog friends frequently complain about Boucher, but I guess I was raised on his ideas about telecom and agree with maybe all of them. Indeed, I have written them down for him a couple of times - including this brief.

On a somewhat related note, I read today in the Coalfield Progress that the plan is in place to get the fiber optic lines to Rose Hill and a bunch of the other as-yet unserved places in Southwest Virginia. I applaud the people who made that happen, whatever their names or politics.

Clarke county landowners want serenity now

This article is surely one for the books - it begins:

" All is not peaceful on Ross Lane even though there is a yoga and meditation center on the end of the road.

In fact, it is the meditation center that has neighbors complaining."

The landowners claim the meditation center is not a permissive use of land in the zone where it is located. One of them was quoted as saying, "Our peace was disturbed."

On the role of bloggers

In this Washington Times commentary on the role of bloggers and the Supreme Court nominations, it says:

"In the Miers case, it could be argued that bloggers on the right saved the president from making a critical mistake, and nudged him onto the path that ultimately led to a enormously significant part of his presidential legacy. But bloggers on the left are pushing their party into a difficult wilderness. The angry 'net-roots' denounce any Democrat for deviating from their agenda, without a moment's thought of trying to run for re-election with a liberal record in West Virginia, North Dakota or Nebraska."

Fewer law school applicants this year

Via this Howard Bashman post, the Boston Globe reports here and the New York Times reports here that there are fewer applicants to law school this year and there were fewer last year.

On the nationality of Tennessee notaries public

The Attorney General of Tennessee has reaffirmed his earlier opinion that "the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits the State from requiring that notaries public be citizens of the United States."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Open blog night with the Attorney General of Virginia

Here at Chad's blog you can read Bob McDonnell's answers to the questions from Chad's readers.

Chad, sparky as ever, kicked off the dialog with a question about Notre Dame football.

Sago mine survivor's wife sues brother-in-law over hospital photo

The AP is reporting that the wife of the survivor of the West Virginia mine explosion is suing her husband's brother for taking a picture of the him in the hospital and submitting to the National Enquirer.

Virginia law recognizes a civil action for "[a]ny person whose name, portrait, or picture is used without having first obtained the written consent of such person, or if dead, of the surviving consort and if none, of the next of kin, or if a minor, the written consent of his or her parent or guardian, for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade." Va. Code § 8.01-40.

Chief Judge Jones grants new hearing in the Winchester capital murder case

In an opinion of 162 pages, Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. sustained one of the grounds on which convicted murderer Edward Bell based his petition for habeas relief, concluding that the petitioner is entitled to a hearing on the issue of the sufficiency of his counsel's efforts to introduce mitigating facts in the sentencing phase of his trial for the shooting of a police officer in 1999.

The Winchester paper has this article on the case. The article explains: "If Jones decides that Bell’s original defense attorneys acted properly, a new execution date could be set. However, if the judge determines that Fischel and Williams failed to present relevant evidence, Bell would be entitled to a new sentencing hearing in front of a jury."

On the legality of balderdash and gadzooks in the Commonwealth

Christian Trejbal has this column in the Roanoke paper, describing his discovery that the criminal law of Virginia prohibits public profanity. Va. Code § 18.2-388. Every lawyer who has been more than few times to general district court has heard of this statute, along with the curse and abuse statute, Va. Code § 18.2-416.

The column gave me cause to recollect one of my first research projects, for a brief in the case of Kennedy's Piggly Wiggly Stores, Inc. v. Cooper, 14 Va. App. 701, 419 S.E.2d 278 (1992). The claimant had told a company executive just what he was full of, leading to the termination of his employment, and the litigation of whether his use of such language was "gross misconduct" as would disqualify him from getting unemployment. To write the brief, I looked up on Westlaw all the svere verds I knew. And, there were a lot of cases. Evidently, the panel of the Court of Appeals was familiar with words of this kind, and concluded that their use was not such a big deal (notwithstanding their possible illegality).

On the cost of getting married and other laws

The Norfolk paper has this article on the more obscure proposed amendments to the marriage laws of the Commonwealth, including HB 239, which would allow the fee for performing a marriage to exceed $30.

On challenges to books in the public schools

The Richmond paper had this article titled "How to challenge a book - Area parents able to question a school's reading material."

The article begins with the mother of a five year-old who was discovered to be reading about bottles of "deer" on the wall.

On clarity and brevity in legal writing

It says here in this post from Houston's Clear Thinkers that in the ongoing Enron trial, the government has filed this motion to prohibit the defense counsel from using the indictment in cross-examination of the government's witnesses, because it will only confuse them.

On the problem of agreements between "co-venturers"

In this one post, the ALI-ABA Partnership/LLC blog highlights what it is all about, as it describes a case in which a Maryland appeals court set forth a list of alternatives to dissolution of a closely-held corporation.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On life tenure

In this How Appealing post, Howard Bashman notes the passing of a judge from the Third Circuit, who was age 96, and whose last opinion came out in January 2006, from which Bashman concludes that "he took the idea of life tenure on the federal bench quite seriously."

Chad unable to resist the mule reference

We've been declared the winner of Chad's Caption Contest No. 38, raising the all-time mark to 7.33-30.67.

I realize now that Chad hired on Will V. so Will would be ineligible to participate in the caption contest, which reduces the number of entries by half. Now, if he can just sign up Roy Jessee . . . .

Monday, February 06, 2006

On Judge Boyle, the long-time nominee to the Fourth Circuit

Via Southern Appeal, this NRO bit says now that the Supreme Court nominations are out of the way, the Senate should move on to the remaining nominees to the Courts of Appeals, and that first on the list should be Judge Boyle.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Still more on lawyers for the poor

Last week, Hugh Lessig of the Daily Press had this column which begins:

"Virginia has been put on notice: Boost funding for legal defense of the poor or face a class-action lawsuit over a compensation system that ranks last in the nation."

One William & Mary law professor's view on the national security surveillance

Professor Alan Meese of William & Mary Law School offers this commentary on the national security surveillance dispute. He says in part:

"Gore, Leahy and Bush's other critics are dead wrong. The NSA surveillance is a valid exercise of the president's authority to gather intelligence necessary to prevent attacks within the United States, attacks Congress has authorized the president to pre-empt and deter. FISA and similar constraints on the president would offend the Constitution, contravene the rule of law and make us less secure."

Split decision for jailers on qualified immunity in suicide case

In Short v. Smoot, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Chief Judge Wilkins, joined by the E.D. Va.'s Judge Kelley, with Judge Gregory concurring in part and dissenting in part, reversed the denial of qualified immunity as to one group of jailers while affirming the denial of qualified immunity as to the jailer who sat watching the video monitors while the plaintiff's decedent rehearsed and implemented his suicide in a jail cell. The majority concluded that under Fourth Circuit law, the other jailers could have believed that their constitutional obligations were satisfied when the decedent was placed in a cell with video monitoring. Judge Gregory disagreed, and would have affirmed Judge Wilson's opinion as to all of the defendants. The videotape left the defendant in charge of watching the video monitor with no immunity defense.

The AP had this somewhat garbled account of the decision.