Saturday, October 27, 2007

Attorney General's amicus brief in the Miller-Jenkins custody case

Here is the amicus brief recently filed by the Virginia Attorney General's office in the Miller-Jenkins custody case, which does not address the procedural issues that might sidetrack the appeal now before the Virginia Supreme Court.

Kingsport attorney Jim Humphreys

It appears from VPAP that James N.L. Humphreys has given $1,500 or more to both Senator Wampler and Delegate Kilgore.

Perhaps he is looking for that next judgeship in the 30th Circuit, and he is an old Wise Countian.

On the VTLA's donations

This article says the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association is one of the largest donors to candidates for the General Assembly in the upcoming elections.

According to VPAP, here is how the VTLA

Republican: $147,000 (49%)
Democrat: $149,250 (50%)
Other: $2,500

144 donations totaling $298,750

Candidate/Committee Contributions
Albo, David B (R-H042), $5,000
Alexander, Kenneth C (D-H089), $500
Amundson, Kristen (D-H044), $500
Armstrong, Ward L (D-H010), $6,000
Athey, Clifford "Clay" (R-H018), $1,000
Barlow, William K (D-H064), $1,500
Bell, Rob (R-H058), $1,000
Bowling, Dan (D-H003), $500
Brink, Robert H (D-H048), $500
Bulova, David (D-H037), $500
Byron, Kathy J (R-H022), $500
Caputo, Chuck (D-H067), $3,500
Carrico, Bill (R-H005), $1,000
Colgan, Charles J (D-S029), $1,000
Dance, Rosalyn R (D-H063), $500
Deeds, Creigh (D-S025), $1,000
Democratic Party of Virginia (D-PAC), $1,000
Dominion Leadership Trust PAC (R-TPAC), $3,000
Ebbin, Adam (D-H049), $500
Edwards, John S (D-S021), $1,000
Eisenberg, Albert (D-H047), $500
Englin, David (D-H045), $500
Ferguson, Eric (D-H009), $6,000
Fralin, William H Jr (R-H017), $500
Griffith, H Morgan (R-H008), $6,000
Hall, Franklin P (D-H069), $3,500
Herring, Mark (D-S033), $5,000
Houck, R Edward (D-S017), $4,500
House Republican Campaign Committee (R-PAC), $4,000
Howell, Janet D (D-S032), $2,000
Howell, William J (R-H028), $2,500
Hull, Robert D (D-H038), $500
Hurt, Robert (R-H016), $11,000
Hurt, Robert (R-S019), $2,500
Iaquinto, Salvatore (R-H084), $4,000
Janis, Bill (R-H056), $5,000
Joannou, Johnny S (D-H079), $7,500
Jones, Chris (R-H076), $1,000
Jones, Dwight C (D-H070), $500
Kilgore, Terry G (R-H001), $6,000
Lewis, Lynwood W Jr (D-H100), $2,000
Loupassi, Manoli (R-H068), $12,500
Lucas, L Louise (D-S018), $2,000
Marsden, David (D-H041), $1,500
Marsh, Henry L III (D-S016), $1,000
McClellan, Jennifer (D-H071), $500
McDougle, Ryan (R-S004), $3,000
McEachin, A Donald (D-S009), $7,000
Melvin, Kenneth R (D-H080), $1,500
Miller, John C (D-S001), $6,000
Miller, Paula (D-H087), $1,000
Moran, Brian J (D-H046), $6,000
Nichols, Paul (D-H051), $17,500
Norment, Thomas K Jr (R-S003), $5,000
Northam, Ralph (D-S006), $7,500
O'Bannon, John (R-H073), $2,000
Obenshain, Mark (R-S026), $7,000
Oder, Glenn (R-H094), $500
Peace, Christopher (R-H097), $2,000
Petersen, J Chapman (D-S034), $15,000
Phillips, Clarence E (D-H002), $500
Plum, Kenneth R (D-H036), $500
Poisson, David (D-H032), $1,000
Pollard, Albert Jr (D-S028), $2,500
Putney, Lacey E (I-H019), $2,500
Quayle, Frederick M (R-S013), $5,000
Reynolds, W Roscoe (D-S020), $5,250
Rust, Tom (R-H086), $1,000
Saslaw, Richard L (D-S035), $10,000
Scott, James M (D-H053), $500
Shannon, Stephen (D-H035), $2,000
Sickles, Mark (D-H043), $500
Stolle, Chris (R-H083), $2,500
Stolle, Kenneth W (R-S008), $15,000
Stosch, Walter A (R-S012), $5,500
Stuart, Richard (R-S028), $15,000
Suit, Terrie (R-H081), $500
Ticer, Patricia S (D-S030), $1,000
Toscano, David J (D-H057), $1,500
Va Senate Republican Leadership Trust (R-PAC), $10,000
Valentine, Shannon (D-H023), $500
Wampler, William C Jr (R-S040), $1,000
Ware, Onzlee (D-H011), $2,000
Watkins, John C (R-S010), $1,000
Watts, Vivian E (D-H039), $1,500
Welch, John (R-H021), $1,000
Whipple, Mary M (D-S031), $2,500
Williams, Martin E (R-S001), $3,500

Virginia partial-birth abortion statute back before Fourth Circuit panel of Motz, Michael and Niemeyer

This story on says in part:

"An important new measure of the effect of Gonzales comes this week, when the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals re-evaluates Virginia's partial-birth abortion ban -- possibly the strictest ban in the nation -- in light of Gonzales. The high court remanded the Virginia law to the 4th Circuit just days after the Gonzales decision. . . .

Normally at the 4th Circuit, the identity of panel members is unknown in advance. But in this case, because it amounts to a sequel of the earlier litigation, the same three judge-panel that struck the Virginia law down in 2005 will hear it again. Judges M. Blane Michael and Diana Gribbon Motz, both Clinton appointees, are liberals, and both voted to strike down the Virginia law before. Judge Paul Niemeyer is a conservative appointee of President George H.W. Bush, and he dissented in 2005. . . .

The Virginia law, called the "Partial Birth Infanticide Act," also criminalizes the "deliberate" use of the intact D&E procedure. The 4th Circuit panel struck it down based on a 2000 Supreme Court decision striking down a Nebraska statute that was a precursor to Virginia's."

Here is a post on the earlier panel decision.

A point I've been arguing in one case for a couple of years now

"Standing, however, 'is a threshold jurisdictional question which must be addressed prior to and independent of the merits of a party's claims.' Dillard v. Baldwin County Comm'rs, 225 F.3d 1271, 1275 (11th Cir. 2000); EF Hutton & Co., Inc. v. Hadley, 901 F.2d 979, 983 (11th Cir. 1990)."

Judge Fay, for the Eleventh Circuit, in AT&T Mobility v. NASCAR (the Jeff Burton car case).

The Court goes on to say:

"In fact, we are obliged to consider standing sua sponte even if the parties have not raised the issue because an appellate court “must satisfy itself not only of its own jurisdiction, but also of that of the lower courts in a cause under review.” Bochese v. Town of Ponce Inlet, 405 F.3d 964, 975 (11th Cir. 2005); see also Florida Ass'n of Med. Equip. Dealers v. Apfel, 194 F.3d 1227, 1230 (11th Cir. 1999) (stating that “every court has an independent duty to review standing as a basis for jurisdiction at any time, for every case it adjudicates.”).

On this latter point of appellate jurisdiction, incredibly enough, the law in Virginia is to the contrary:

"We have repeatedly held that challenges to a litigant's standing must be raised at the trial level, and the failure to do so precludes consideration of a litigant's standing by this Court on appeal." Martin v. Ziherl, 269 Va. 35, 39, 607 S.E.2d 367, 368 (2005).

That's weird.

One would suspect that the view attributed to Judge Dobie is more typical:

"Anyone fortunate enough to have had the late Judge Armistead Dobie as a professor will remember his hypothetical used to emphasize the ongoing obligation that a court has to insure that it properly has subject matter jurisdiction over a given case. As Professor Dobie taught, if the janitor comes into the back of the courtroom and says, "Judge, you ain't got jurisdiction," the court must stop what it is doing and determine the jurisdiction question before returning to anything else."

On the lawyer for Griswold of Griswold v. Connecticut

Via Norm Pattis, here is a recollection of Connecticut lawyer Catherine Roraback, who represented Estelle Griswold, in the case that became Griswold v. Connecticut. The NY Times had this obituary.

Day in the life

Here Ken Lammers seems to be saying that some Wise County defense lawyer earned his money.

I thought that by the end of the term, the jury thinks everyone is guilty. Or is it not guilty?

The myth of net neutrality?

A while back, I borrowed a quote from a Congressman, who said: "we asked experts to identify one example of a problem that this amendment would solve. They couldn't point to one example where a Bell-operated company or a cable company had blocked access to their networks or infringed on so-called Internet freedom."

Since then, stories like this one and this one keep making the news.

Wait for it, and the cable and telephone companies will show themselves.

This article on the latest flap concludes: "As long as the service providers control the transport there cannot be a marketplace."

That's exactly right.

On book banning

This amusing post says Pat Conroy has written a note of thanks directed at those who took two of his books out of a school library in West Virginia.

Locally, some on the Washington County School Board have been out to get Fair and Tender Ladies, by Lee Smith from Buchanan County. You'd think that if they had any sense they would pick on someone from farther afield, like any of these from the top 10 most challenged book list for 2006.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Funny thing

Today I was trying to figure out how to deal with a hearing set in Nashville in connection with an administrative subpoena, and then this opinion came out.

The judge from that Tennessee case just wrote a 187-page opinion regarding e-discovery - in a different (and evidently much more complicated) case. That's a lot of work.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One man's opinion

The Charleston Daily Mail has published here one businessman's take on the federal court ruling regarding mountaintop mining:

"Walker said that when he first read Chambers' ruling he thought, "‘This is going to hurt, because it takes a long time to wind through the appeals process.' If no new permits are going to be issued, then as the coal extraction process on respective jobs continues and a particular segment of that job is exhausted, then less coal is going to be mined. And with no new permits, you take that to its logical extent, there will be no coal industry in southern West Virginia."

Chambers' ruling "has already put a chill in this business in southern West Virginia," Walker said. He said customers are having equipment repaired but aren't buying new equipment as could otherwise be expected.

"We came off great years in 2005 and 2006 because our customers felt confident enough to invest in this industry," he said. "Walker Machinery sells equipment from $500,000 to $3 million to the surface mining part of the business. It's very expensive for a coal company to go through the permitting process, train employees, buy equipment, buy explosives, conduct safety training and pay for oil and fuel. It takes a lot of money, a lot of infrastructure. Like any business, if you feel there's an uncertainty about whether you'll be in business, the investment will stop."

Walker said his company already lost one employee over the uncertainty. The West Virginia native had returned for a job at the company but left after 30 days because of the layoff that occurred Friday. "He said he's going back to North Carolina," Walker said.

"This is the third or fourth time there's been a decision revolving around the same issues," Walker said. "(The late U.S. District Court) Judge (Charles) Hayden was overturned once or twice. Judge (Joseph) Goodwin was overturned once on similar issues. Hopefully Judge Chambers will be overturned, once it gets to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"When Congress passed the 1977 surface mining act and all of the regulations that went with it, there was a clear intent for mining to go on," he said. "I think making up logic out of the Clean Water Act and other sources of federal legislation to contradict the intent of Congress has not been correct.

"I can understand why people may not like to look at a surface mine in operation, but it looks to me and a lot of people just like a highway being built," Walker said. "A lot of reclamation work goes back in. We take people by helicopter all of the time and show them reclamation. It takes a while -- sometimes 10, 20 years, but it's like farming, like harvesting crops. We harvest a natural resource.

"The modern coal industry does it right, sometimes not perfect, but they adhere to the law. It costs them too much to not do it correctly. The best environmental engineers in this state work in the coal industry."

Coal's opponents range "from uninformed citizens to eco-terrorists," Walker said.

"I keep reading about people glad to see coal go," he said. "What do we have, gambling, to replace it? Is that what we have reduced ourselves to? Tourism is great and tourism has grown in pretty much the same proportion as the coal industry in the last couple of years. But jobs in the tourism industry are minimum wage or a little above while ours are $20 to $25 an hour plus benefits.

"It's sad we've allowed ourselves to get a very negative bias in the media," he said. "I don't know what these people want. There's a religion now of global warming, that man has caused everything. It's hard to understand where all of this has come from in the last several years. The water coming off these mines today, going into rivers, is cleaner, almost completely cleaner than the water that's already there. The government chose not to enforce water rules against citizens, states. But it's by law we the industry can't pollute. Judge Chambers is saying valley fills, which act like sponges, and the ponds below them, are illegal. That's stupid.

"A stream has to run for six months" to be covered by the law, Walker said. ""The United States Supreme Court stated that. He (Chambers) keeps saying we're burying streams.

"If this anti-coal Southern U.S. District Court continues and this is not overturned, we're out of business," Walker said. "If you can't disturb the land -- it'll affect any disturbance of land, not just in mining, but in the construction business. I don't think you'll be able to build a house. The intention may be good but it is extremely misguided. It's going to kill the West Virginia economy because there's nothing to replace it."

Walker said he fears that if Chamber's ruling isn't overturned, "the world will go on around us" and get coal from the Powder River Basin and other sources. He said this year's coal production in southern West Virginia is down about 2 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

"I don't see our Congressional delegation or our state leadership pounding the stump every day saying, ‘This is hurtful,' ‘We need to change the law,' or ‘The judge is wrong.' They only talk about carbon sequestration, which is years away, or coal-to-liquid plants, which are being fought because there's coal in it," he said.

"We don't have an energy policy -- it's all based on perception and politics. It's sad. I don't see our government leadership fighting for West Virginia. I see the Democratic Party being very anti-West Virginia because the policies they're pushing are going to kill the energy business in West Virginia.

"We still have a basis to build an industry around if the state would let us," he said. "The state is putting more emphasis behind gambling than what brought them to the dance."

The Southwick vote

Via How Appealing, here is the vote on confirmation of Judge Southwick to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, to succeed Judge Pickering, whose recess appointment expired without his obtaining confirmation from the Senate. Judge Southwick got in with the votes of 10 Democratic senators, including Feinstein from California and Byrd from West Virginia.

On the wilderness of voices and cases

"Dissenting opinions may serve as a safety valve. All too often they are but a voice crying in the wilderness - vox et praeterea nihil - gone with the wind, as have been many other worthy efforts."

Holt, C.J., dissenting, in Com. v. Jones & Robins, 186 Va. 30, 41 S.E.2d 720 (1947).

"Some great jurist has said that a dissenting opinion ‘is like the voice of one crying in the wilderness,‘ but while my dissent may be vain, yet I owe to myself, and the profession and public, to express my views upon the subject of this kind of high finance, and the attitude the courts should take towards it."

Christian, J., dissenting, in Brennan v. Rollman, 151 Va. 715, 739, 145 S.E. 260, 267 (1928).

"We have not deemed it profitable to cite or comment upon the wilderness of cases touching the subject discussed, but have been content to ascertain and to state in what direction they preponderate."

Alphin v. Lowman, 79 S.E. 1029, 1033 (Va. 1913).

"The case has been argued at great length, and with learning and ability, though the argument has taken a much wider range than is necessary to a decision of the questions presented. It is therefore impossible, within proper limits, to review all the collateral positions taken, or to trace principles remotely bearing upon the questions, through the wilderness of the cases cited. Nor is it necessary."

Millhiser Mfg. Co. v. Gallego Mills Co., 44 S.E. 760, 762 (Va. 1903).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Circuit court judge barred from courthouse?

The Norfolk paper yesterday had this mysterious story, that says Circuit Court Judge Alfred M. Tripp "has been barred from the courthouse."

The article implies that this development relates in some way to the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission.

Unrelated to this, I guess we'll get the word from the Virginia Supreme Court next week in their November session about what they propose to do in the matter of Judge Shull from Scott County.

The assignments of error in the Randolph-Macon Women's College case(s)

Here it says the assignments of error in Record Number 070843 are these:

1. The trial court erred in holding that Appellants failed to allege a specific contract entitling them to a four-year education in a single-sex environment at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (“R-MWC” or “College”).
2. The trial court erred in holding that the standard R-MWC letter offering admission to Appellants did not contain an express or implied promise to provide them with four years of single-sex liberal arts education.
3. The trial court erred in failing to consider properly the extrinsic evidence submitted in conjunction with Appellants’ Bill of Particulars, which alleged a contract between Appellants and R-MWC with an express or implied promise to provide Appellants with four years of single-sex liberal arts education.
4. The trial court erred in holding that Appellants’ Complaint and Bill of Particulars were too generalized to assert a cause of action for breach of contract.
5. The trial court erred in holding that any contract between the parties was only for a semester, not four years.

The assignments of error in Record Number 071248 are these:

1. The trial court erred by sustaining the Demurrer to the Complaint and/or the Amended Complaint.
2. The trial court erred by ruling that the Virginia Uniform Trust Code does not apply to the Trustees of Randolph-Macon Woman's College and the assets held by that charitable corporation.
3. The trial court erred by ruling that the Trustees of Randolph-Macon Woman's College breached no duty by voting to change the purpose of the College from the education "primarily of women" to the education of "men and women."
4. The trial court erred by ruling that the Trustees of Randolph-Macon Woman's College breached no duty by voting to change the name of the College from "Randolph-Macon Woman's College" to "Randolph College," or, alternatively, by failing to rule on that issue.
5. The trial court erred by ruling that the doctrine of cy pres is not applicable to the facts alleged in the Complaint and/or Amended Complaint.
6. The trial court erred by ruling that the petitioners lack standing to bring this action.

It seems like some of these issues are of extreme interest to other colleges in Virginia - what all makes up the contract between the college and the student?

And, ooh, the cy pres doctrine is defined here:

cy pres doctrine
n. (see-pray doctrine) from French, meaning "as close as possible." When a gift is made by will or trust (usually for charitable or educational purposes), and the named recipient of the gift does not exist, has dissolved or no longer conducts the activity for which the gift is made, then the estate or trustee must make the gift to an organization which comes closest to fulfilling the purpose of the gift. Sometimes this results in heated court disputes in which a judge must determine the appropriate substitute to receive the gift. Example: dozens of local Societies for Protection of Cruelty to Animals contested for a gift which was made without designating which chapter would receive the benefits. The judge wisely divided up the money among several S.P.C.A. chapters.

Separate and apart from these cases, the Lynchburg paper reports here and the AP reports here on an injunction suit filed against the college to stop it from selling a collection of paintings to raise funds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Latest from NY Times

The NYT has this blog post about the upcoming Senate vote on Fifth Circuit nominee Leslie Southwick.

And, it is unspeakably lame, for reasons well stated by the commenters to the post.

The Times says:

"The question is whether he is sufficiently sensitive to civil rights issues to sit on a federal appeals court, especially one in a part of the country that has one of the highest concentrations of African-Americans, and many racially charged cases involving issues like the death penalty."

I'm not sure that is the question. The Times commentary suggests that all appeals court judges with aspirations to higher judicial offices should always write separate opinions along these lines: "I concur in the opinion (along with the Democratic appointees among my colleagues), except to the extent that it may be construed regardless of context as insufficiently sensitive to civil rights issues."

Normally, from the perspective of labor-management relations, I would have thought that the "liberal" side of a government employee termination case is on the side of preserving the individual's job, while the "conservative" side maximizes the employer's power to do as it likes. Similarly, as a matter of administrative law theory, one would suspect that affirming the agency's reinstatement of the employee would be the way of "judicial restraint," while rejecting the agency's expertise would be the "activist" position. Judge Southwick joins an opinion siding with the individual against the government, and upholding the administrative decision - and gets nailed from the Left. Yet, beyond the facts of this particular case, this precedent would support enforcing the rights of the individuals who are the victims of employment discrimination, as found by the state agency.

I've wondered why the ABA gave a thumbs down to Michael Wallace from Mississippi, but they gave Southwick a "well-qualified" rating as shown on this list, which also shows that Fourth Circuit nominee Robert Conrad, Jr., received the same rating.

Not easy at the top

I read the article about whether Richmond lawyer Duncan Getchell had something to do with the miscue in the Wintergreen case (where the transcript never got filed), and the article that said A.T. Massey was suing Wyatt Tarrant and McGuireWoods over the Harman Mining case (another case where Mr. Getchell's name is on the published appellate opinion, Wellmore Coal Corp. v. Harman Mining Corp., 264 Va. 279, 568 S.E.2d 671 (2002)), where the notice of appeal was defective because it was signed only by an out-of-state lawyer, and the unpublished opinion (in a case argued by Mr. Getchell) where the Fourth Circuit affirmed the $6 million verdict for an injured soccer player claiming lost lifetime earnings. (Maybe the trial counsel should have called Jim Rome to testify about the worth and the future of soccer.)

So, when you get to be the best, any controversy generates publicity. But, while all that was going on President Bush nominated Mr. Getchell to the Fourth Circuit, so I guess he has had at least some fun in the last couple of months. And, indeed, the Richmonders I've heard say he is a superb lawyer whose nomination ought to be confirmed.

On pleading fraud with particularity

In federal court, you begin with the rule of Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776 (4th Cir. 1999), in which the Court of Appeals stated that “the ‘circumstances’ required to be pled with particularity under Rule 9(b) are ‘the time, place, and contents of the false representations, as well as the identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what he obtained thereby.’” 176 F.3d at 784. In pleading fraud against multiple defendants, the plaintiff “must identify, with particularity, each individual defendant’s culpable conduct; defendants cannot be grouped ‘together without specif[ication of] which defendant committed which wrong.’” Arnlund v. Smith, 210 F. Supp.2d 755, 760 (E.D. Va. 2002). Compare Juntti v. Prudential-Bache Securities, Inc., 1993 WL 138523 at *2 (4th Cir.) (“It is not sufficient to argue that ‘[e]ach count . . . incorporates the factual allegations of the Complaint, which specify each defendant’s individual conduct’”); Adams v. NVR Homes, Inc., 193 F.R.D. 243, 251 (D. Md. 2000) (“where there are multiple defendants, plaintiffs must, where the gravamen of the claim is fraud, allege all claims with particularity as to each of the defendants”). In addition, the plaintiff must plead facts showing reliance. See Kline v. Nationsbank, 886 F. Supp. 1285, 1295-96 (E.D. Va. 1995) (granting motion to dismiss fraud claim for failure to comply with Rule 9(b) where plaintiff generally alleged reliance without stating any facts about how she relied on the particular representation). Non-compliance with Rule 9(b) is grounds for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). See Harrison, 176 F.3d at 783 n.5; Lasercomb America, Inc. v. Reynolds, 911 F.2d 970, 980 (4th Cir. 1990) (“a complaint which fails to specifically allege the time, place and nature of the fraud is subject to dismissal on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion”).

In Virginia state court, “[w]here fraud is relied on, the pleading must show specifically in what the fraud consists, so that the defendant may have the opportunity of shaping his defence accordingly, and since fraud must be clearly proved it must be distinctly stated.” Mortarino v. Consultant Engineering Services, 251 Va. 289, 295, 467 S.E.2d 778, 782 (1996). “[T]he rule is well established that fraud must be clearly alleged in order that evidence intended to prove fraud may be admitted.” Brooks v. Bankson, 248 Va. 197, 206, 445 S.E.2d 473 (1994) (citing cases). Because of the ease with which a plaintiff might otherwise seek to expand an ordinary contract or negligence claim into fraud with the addition of a few words in a pleading, Virginia law requires that “[a]s in federal practice, charges of fraud must be pleaded with ‘particularity.’” Middleditch & Sinclair, Virginia Civil Procedure 385 (2d ed. 1992) (citing cases).

Isn't that the law, or did I just make it all up? Sometimes I wonder - just when I think I've got one little corner figured out, someone says blah-blah-blah, that's not the law.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Some links

Here from the Newport News paper is a light-hearted report on the swearing in of Justice Goodwyn.

This story from the Norfolk paper tells that the anti-ice cream truck ordinance in Portsmouth has been deemed unconstitutional.

U.Va. reports here that Judge Wilkinson's daughter got a clerkship with Chief Justice Roberts.

Here's the New York Times take on the chaos among the parts of the government of the City of Richmond.

Last week, the Bristol paper had this obituary for Circuit Court Judge Aubrey Matthews, which said in part: "Judge Matthews received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington and Lee University. This education was separated by his Naval service in the 88th SeaBees Battalion during the South Pacific campaign of World War II. He practiced general law in Marion from 1948 to 1965, during which time he also served four years as Smyth County's commonwealth attorney. He was appointed to the 28th Circuit Court bench in 1965 and served until his retirement in 1986. He was the only Smyth Countian to be appointed as a circuit court judge in the twentieth century."

Judge Welsh told me that Judge Matthews never liked to write opinions.

U.Va. law alumni mostly likely to offer tricky clues

I never knew it, but it says here that famed crossword puzzle maker Will Shortz is an alumnus of the law school of the University of Virginia.

A visit to SWAC Country

I went to Staunton last weekend for the meeting of the board of governors of The Virginia Bar Association.

At the dinner on Friday night among the locals in attendance was Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh, who I had not met before. He is an excellent fellow, who seems to know personally or have known or have heard about every lawyer of note in the Western District of Virginia since 1950, or maybe 1900.

His wife told this story, of Judge Welsh trying a case before Judge Widener when Judge Widener was on the District Court (which was in period from 1969 to 1972):

Welsh was an AUSA, and in this particular trial, whenever one of the witnesses gave some particularly useful testimony, he would say to the witness, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear that, could you repeat what you just said?" Judge Widener was not fooled by this technique, and declared that "if the United States attorney loses his hearing one more time, he will be held in contempt."

I did not tell Judge Welsh of my favorite story ever told by Harrisonburg lawyer Cathleen Welsh, whom I suppose is no relation to the judge, either.

Also at dinner I sat with the fellow who is executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Aid, John Whitfield and his wife.

I did not see the SWAC Girl in my short trip to Staunton, but noticed that she has been posting some excellent photographs.