Saturday, August 05, 2006

City councilman looks likely to lose federal court challenge to city's limits on prayers at council meetings

The Fredericksburg paper reports here that Judge Spencer of the E.D. Va. doesn't think much of the arguments raised by a Fredericksburg city council member who wants to pray any way he likes when it is his turn to open city council meetings.

I don't guess the plaintiff/councilman will get to vote when the council decides whether to instruct its lawyers to go after him for attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988.

Which is more hostile and abusive toward Native Americans?

You can read Richard Williamson's brief to the NCAA on behalf of the College of William & Mary right here. Nevertheless, the NCAA ruled against the College on the use of its logo earlier this week, as reported here.

MeadWestvaco sues Buena Vista for $7 million over cancelled land deal

The Roanoke Times reports here that the big paper company has filed suit after the city changed its mind on whether to give land in an industrial park as part of an industrial development deal.

Perhaps the City will argue that the land give-away was illegal in the first place, and therefore the contract is not enforceable. Local governments are not protected by sovereign immunity from liability for breach of contract. They are, however, not generally estopped from arguing that the contracts they themselves made were illegal or ultra vires.

The Vermont Supreme Court ruling in the same-sex couple's custody case

Here is the opinion from the Vermont Supreme Court in the custody case being fought in Virginia and Vermont courts between two women.

The Court ruled that the Virginia court lacked jurisdiction under Vermont law. That is a strange-sounding sentence, but evidently necessary to the conclusion that the Vermont courts are not bound by the ruling of the Virginia court.

The Court observed: "Whether Virginia must enforce the Vermont visitation order is not directly involved in this appeal, but that is an entirely different question from whether full faith and credit requires the Vermont court to strike its own visitation order because the Virginia court refuses to recognize its validity based entirely on Virginia law."

The case turns in part on a federal law, the Parental Kidnapping Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738A. The presence of this federal statutory question might enhance the prospect for ultimate review by the U.S. Supreme Court, if the dispute continues long enough.

Ironically, concerns about "full faith and credit" are said to underly such initiatives as the same-sex marriage amendment on the ballot in Virginia this November, to make it less likely that Virginia courts will be bound by the decisions of courts in other states, such as Vermont - and in this case involving a Virginian the Vermont court refused to give "full faith and credit" to the decision by the Virginia court based on Virginia law.

The AP has this article about the decision.

On two monitors

The last time I was at the federal courthouse in Big Stone Gap, or sometime lately, I saw that Libby Sharp had two LCD monitors on her desktop. Wow, I said.

This week, Technolawyer linked to this NY Times story and this Microsoft research report on the productivity gains to be realized from using two screens at one time.

Tennessee appellate judges all get re-elected

From the TBAtoday:

"Despite organized efforts to target the defeat of two members of the Tennessee Supreme Court and members of the intermediate appellate courts, all judges were returned to the bench by unprecedented margins. TBA President Larry Wilks pronounced himself 'pleased, but not surprised' with the wisdom of Tennessee voters. 'The election was not only an endorsement of the performance of the individual judges, but also a vote of confidence in the Tennessee Plan for merit selection, evaluation and retention of our appellate bench,' said Wilks.

The campaigns by the Tennessee Medical Association, Tennessee Right to Life, TeamGOP and a Knoxville property rights group, as well as a voter guide put out by the Family Action Council of Tennessee appeared to have little if any effect on vote totals which approached 75 percent for retention. The TBA urged voters to consider the performance evaluation recommendations of the Tennessee Judicial Evaluation Commission set up under the Tennessee Plan when making their yes/no selections.

Meanwhile, the debate in several of the trial, general sessions and local judicial elections was also influenced by TBA's Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct, which asked judges not to commit on how they might rule in specific cases."

Penny White is still the only appellate judge from Tennessee not to be re-elected.

On the Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation

Via the Instapundit, here is the ruling of an Arizona trial court.

The opinion begins: "The Court has rarely seen a motion with more merit. The motion will be granted."

The opinion goes on to address the plaintiff's proposed amended complaint: "Plaintiff’s proposed amended complaint is 56 pages long and has 554 separately numbered paragraphs. It contains 19 counts. It is prolix and discursive in the extreme."

Powerful words on sentencing from Judge Young

That Judge Young in Massachusetts is one I'd go to hear speak, on about any subject.

Via AL&P, here is what he wrote at the beginning of U.S. v. Kandirakis:

"For seventeen years federal courts had been sentencing offenders unconstitutionally. Think about that. The human cost is incalculable -- thousands of Americans languish in prison under sentences that today are unconstitutional. The institutional costs are equally enormous -- for seventeen years the American jury was disparaged and disregarded in derogation of its constitutional function; a generation of federal trial judges has lost track of certain core values of an independent judiciary because they have been brought up in a sentencing system that strips the words 'burden of proof', 'evidence', and 'facts' of genuine meaning; and the vulnerability of our fair and impartial federal trial court system to attack from the political branches of our government has been exposed as never before in our history."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Avoiding speedy trial violations in the W.D. Va.

Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. entered a new standing order in June that says theree will be no continuances unless the i's are dotted and t's are crossed such that it can be done without running afoul of the Speedy Trial Act.

Welcome, Ken Lammers

Belatedly, I am noting here that CrimLaw's Ken Lammers has decided to join up with Chad Dotson's office as an assistant Commonwealth's Attorney for Wise County.

Interestingly, he says his practice representing indigent defendants was done in by jury trials and appeals. In civil cases, the lawyer getting paid by the hour at market rates by the hour does not go broke working on jury trials and appeals.

Commentary on vacant Fourth Circuit seats

The Richmond paper opines that Fourth Circuit nominee William J. Haynes, II, should withdraw his name because he probably won't be confirmed, and make way for some deserving Virginia lawyer or judge.

Professor Tobias in the Roanoke paper opines here that President Bush should ignore the senators from North Carolina and name another deserving Virginia lawyer or judge to the seat opened by the resignation of Judge Luttig.

Who would not agree that the Fourth Circuit needs two more deserving Virginians?

Monday, July 31, 2006

This could be trouble if the city manager ever sees my office

According to the Washington Times, a federal judge in the E.D. Va. has dismissed the lawsuit filed by an evictee against Arlington County for being evicted from his condo for hoarding too much stuff.

The article says in part:

"Dr. Sam Shipkovitz, who also has a law degree, was evicted by county authorities in Arlington after finding the crammed condo owned by his friend posed a fire hazard, reports The Washington Post. Shipkovitz claimed in his federal lawsuit the Arlington County hoarding task force had violated his civil rights.


One of the RVA blogs points out that the band Sparklehorse (and see this site, too) has a MySpace page.

Scott Minor of Sparklehorse is my first cousin.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nerves operate at better than dial-up speed

According to this interesting Slashdot post, the connection between your eyes are your brain works at approximately 10 MB Ethernet speed.

Funny enough for a quick mini-resurrection of HOWT

From the mind at HOWT, this pro se notice of appeal is one for the books.

The Farmersville connection

I'm informed that the ultra-hormonal Tour de France champion of the moment, Floyd Landis, is from Farmersville, PA.

When I was 18, I went and voted for the first time ever on the premises of the Farmersville Fire Company. Alas, I'm not really sure how to get there, any more - some place between Leola and Ephrata and not far from Brownstown. This old map of West Earl Township didn't help much.

What I'll be watching Sunday night

Inspector Morse is dead, but Inspector Lewis comes alive for the first time on Sunday's Mystery!

Surely between the three showings I'll catch the whole thing.