Wednesday, January 29, 2003

ANLIR's reinsurer Reciprocal of America was taken over by the state on Wednesday, according to this report.
Governor Warner has criticized the Republicans for their role in denying reappointment to Judge Askew, according to this report. The Washington Post continues to hammer away at the Askew story, as evidenced by this story about unhappy Newport News resident.
In this opinion, Judge Turk declared a federal statute unconstitutional, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 (2002). The case arose in the context of a prisoner's claim that various prisons in Virginia would not accommodate his dietary needs based on his religion.
The Coalfield paper has this article on Judge Quillen's retirement.
A House committee authorized the purchase of land along the proposed route of Interstate 73 from Roanoke to the North Carolina border, according to this report.
The Fourth Circuit has certified questions to the Virginia Supreme Court about the state's child pornography statute, Va. Code 18.2-391, according to this report. The opinion is here.
Lynchburg Commonwealth's attorney William Petty has declared as a candidate for the Virginia Court of Appeals vacancy, according to this report. In the article, Delegate Kilgore is quoting as saying the seat should go to a Western Virginian. The VBA has set a deadline for next week to receive submissions from potential candidates seeking endorsements. There is a VBA committee on nominations to Virginia's Commissions and Appellate Courts, the membership of which is shown here.

Monday, January 27, 2003

In this opinion, Judge Jones granted the motion of a criminal defendant in the W.D. Va. for notes of a law enforcement investigator.
A Fairfax County circuit court judge has barred cameras from the trial of one of the alleged D.C.-area snipers, according to this report. In a somewhat related matter, the U.S. Supreme Court refused today to take up a death penalty case involving a teen-aged defendant, as described here.
Three of the four Democratic members of the House of Delegates who voted with the majority in support of tightening requirements on abortion clinics come from Southwest Virginia - Delegates Joe Johnson, Bud Phillips, and Jackie Stump, according to this AP article.
This article reports that Attorney General Kilgore has raised $1.2 million for his gubernatorial campaign in 2005, and that $150,000 of those funds came from John Gregory of King Pharmaceutical in Bristol.
The Norfolk paper offered this profile of Robert McDonnell, currently one of the Republican leaders of the House of Delegates and a candidate for Virginia Attorney General in 2005.
This article describes a Virginia legislator's unsuccessful efforts this term to eliminate tenure for professors at Virginia's public colleges and universities.
Judge Agee comments in this Roanoke Times article on the perspective he will bring to his new position on the Virginia Supreme Court.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Last week the U.S. Senate approved a proposal from Senator Byrd of WV to inject more cash into the UMWA Combined Benefit Fund from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, as described here. The amendment provides that "any interest" credited to the Reclamation Fund "shall be transferred" to the Combined Fund "up to such amount as is estimated by the trustees of such Combined Fund to offset the amount of any deficit in net assets in the Combined Fund." WV Congressman Rahall has attributed the ongoing final "crisis" of the Combined Benefit Fund to the efforts by coal companies to shirk their responsibilities to contribute. In this interview, he explained that "[o]ne way or another the coal industry is going to pay these benefits. If they continue to get out of their obligations through litigation, they will pay through the interest that accrues to the AML fees that they pay."

One of the court cases disputed by the UMWA Funds was the Sixth Circuit's holding in Dixie Fuel. The Supreme Court overruled Dixie Fuel earlier this term, in this opinion. In August 2000, a GAO report indicated that "if the Dixie Fuel decision is implemented, the Fund may have to refund an estimated net $57 million in premiums to coal companies and would have to find funding for 10,000 additional unassigned beneficiaries."
The details of proposals for the future of Interstate 81 include tolls and increased fines for passenger vehicles, according to this article. Among the growth-control measures rejected so far in this session of the General Assembly was a proposal by a Northern Virginia legislator that big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart would be required to pay impact fees to solve some of the traffic problems they create, according to this report. Last week, a group of anti-Wal-Mart activists held a press event to exhibit their petition against the location of a new Wal-Mart in Abingdon at Interstate 81's Exit 14, as reported here.
In this article on municipal telecom, the AP notes that Judge Jones' 2001 ruling in the Bristol fiber case has been followed by the Supreme Court of Nebraska and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.