Saturday, March 15, 2003

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the medical malpractice bill, limiting non-economic damages, as reported here. The Republicans face another filibuster in the Senate, as the New York Times reports here (registration required), but it is not entirely clear that even all the Senate Republicans support the measure.

It is also a curiosity whether a federal medical malpractice statute is constitutional as an exercise of the power to regulate interstate commerce. If violence against women does not affect interstate commerce, as the Supreme Court held here in a case arising in Southwest Virginia, then violence against medical patients might be thought of as similarly intrastate in character.
According to this article from the Washington Post, the Justice Department filed a brief under seal in an appeal related to the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui before Judge Brinkema in the E.D. Va. The spokesman for the ACLU said it is a disturbing development.
The U.S. Attorney's office for the W.D. Va. collected over $11 million in its 2002 fiscal year, according to this report.
Six class action suits were brought this week against Bristol, TN's King Pharmaceuticals, as reported here.

The Milberg Weiss complaint is available here. The Schiffrin & Barroway complaint is available here.

Last year, a Florida judge famously likened attorneys from Milberg Weiss to "squeegee boys" in rejecting the settlement of a shareholder suit that did nothing to enrich the shareholders, according to this report.
This article describes prohibited articles that citizens have tried to carry into Richmond-area courthouses.
Judge Askew of Newport News, denied reappointment by the General Assembly, is expected to announce shortly her candidacy for the Virginia Senate, according to this report. Friday was her last day on the bench, as reported here.
Virginia Business has this report on the demise of tobacco (and peanut) subsidies.

Friday, March 14, 2003

In this Fourth Circuit opinion, the Court held that claims against a health insurer whose policies were alleged to have caused the premature release from mental hospitalization of a WV man who proceeded to kill himself and most of his family were preempted by ERISA.
Summary judgment and Virginia contract law are the subject matter of this unpublished Fourth Circuit opinion issued today.
Local government finances got you down? They could be worse, like if you were in New Orleans, where the city just suffered a $200 million state court judgment against it in favor of the city's firefighters, as reported here.
Knoxville attorney Thomas Varlan was approved by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 97-0 on Thursday for a judgeship in the E.D. Tenn., according to this report. According to this from the ABA website, the ABA ratings panel had a split vote on Varlan, with the minority concluding that he was not qualified.
This report describes last week's murder trial in Smyth County, which ended in a conviction Saturday evening of the woman charged with shooting her husband.
A Danville city council member threatened to reveal the drug use and marital infidelity of public officials if the council did not appoint his candidate to the city's School Board, according to this report.
This report from Kingsport and this report from Bristol describe the lay-offs of the Aerus-Electrolux employees in Bristol. Earlier in the week, Congressman Boucher declared he would seek federal aid for the laid-off employees of the Bush furniture plant in St. Paul, as reported here.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration produced this factsheet on the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification ("WARN") Act.

This month's Virginia Business describes the efforts to transform the Southwest Virginia economy from with telecommunications, in this article.
Congressman Boucher has introduced his legislation favoring coal-fired power plants, as reported in this article in Kingsport Times (registration required).
Governor Warner and Attorney General Kilgore disagree on the wisdom and propriety of Virginia Tech's eliminating race and gender as considerations in admissions, prior to the outcome of the university cases now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to this report from Roanoke and this report from Richmond and this report from Norfolk and this report from the Washington Post. This report from the Washington Times points out that similar measures on admissions were taken at U.Va. and William & Mary and are under review at James Madison and Mary Washington.
The accused killer in the Grundy Law School murders will be sent back for more mental health care, according to this report from Bluefield and this report from Bristol.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

By 8-4, the 4th Circuit denied rehearing en banc in the newspaper confiscation First Amendment case, as indicated here. The result is that the newspaper's claim can go forward, as held in this panel decision. As the eight were Chief Judge Wilkins and Judges Wilkinson, Niemeyer, Michael, Traxler, King, Gregory, and Shedd, while the four were Judges Widener, Luttig, Williams, and Motz, the issues must have defied partisan, ideological, and geographical categorization.
The federal prosecutors of the W.D. Va. have decided to have another go at the man who led fundraising for the Bedford D-Day memorial, according to this report. The first trial resulted in a hung jury.

The D-Day memorial is cool, as evidenced by pictures like this one.
In this Tennessee federal court case, the Sixth Circuit reversed Judge Hull on the procedural due process claim of a third-year medical student at the Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City.
While the college admissions litigation perks through the courts, and protesters rally against new policies in Blacksburg, some students at the University of Michigan are thinking the admissions process should consider "socioeconomic" factors other than race, as reported here. Michigan has its own website for admissions lawsuits.

Interestingly, the online application for the Appalachian School of Law asks how many years of schooling had the applicant's parents and siblings.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are appealing a Virginia circuit judge's sua sponte decision to seal the court file in their suit against the Ringling Brothers circus, according to this report.
In this article, Virginia Tech admissions officials describe the effect of the Board of Visitors' decision to adopt the legal advice of Attorney General Kilgore in eliminating race and gender as admissions criteria. Also following the Attorney General's lead, the Board eliminated protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, as noted here and here. In addition, the Board also "approved a resolution banning any group or person determined to 'advocate or have participated in illegal acts of domestic violence and or terrorism' from meeting on campus or in buildings leased or owned by the university," according to this report. In addition, tuition will increase again, as reported here. Also, the Board outlawed smoking in campus dorms, as described here. Advocates of free speech, diversity, low tuition (and smoking?) will protest these decisions later today, according to this report. The membership of the Board of Visitors is listed here.
This article describes the appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court of a constitutional challenge to Wise County's landfill use fee.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"With the advent of the internet, a public reprimand directly by the court is also a viable option. All federal courts have embraced the internet, though some with more success than others. Disciplinary postings can be placed on a page associated with the court's website. The appropriate public posting might list the attorney's name, details of the misconduct, and the court's disapproval." So wrote the Sixth Circuit, in this opinion dealing with contempt sanctions against a criminal defense lawyer who was late for court.
This commentary was written in response to the NY Times' Saturday magazine article on the conservatism of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Counsel for the accused in the Grundy law school murders states here that his client remains unfit for trial.
In this story it is reported that a town council member of a Virginia town turned in 4 other council members for violating FOIA when he discovered their impromptu meeting in a private home while out throwing snowballs with his son.
In Wise County, a former treasurer of the Big Stone Gap Little League has been charged with embezzlement, according to this report.
Montgomery County has decided to appeal this ruling by Judge Kiser requiring the issuance of a special-use permit for a 269-foot high cellular phone tower, according to this report.
In this opinion, the Fourth Circuit reversed for a second time W.D. Va. Judge Wilson's upward departure from the federal guidelines in sentencing a defendant in an internet sex case. According to this report, the defendant is a former aide to the governor of West Virginia.
This March 11 opinion from the Virginia Court of Appeals apparently expands the availability of worker's compensation for employees with black lung disease.
One of the issues on which the Virginia Supreme Court has granted an appeal on March 11, as noted here, is whether a Portsmouth circuit court erred in setting aside a jury verdict of $60,000,000 as excessive.
Here is the caseload report for Virginia circuit courts in 2002, including the numbers by circuit and by city and county. Apparently, the number of civil cases concluded in the 28th Circuit in 2002 (1370) was almost the same as the number of cases concluded in the 29th Circuit (1371), while the 30th Circuit concluded 1783 cases. The 29th Circuit concluded 5074 criminal cases, to 2266 in the 28th Circuit and 4158 in the 30th Circuit. The same information is available here for the district courts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

This article shows the role of litigation in deciding public policy, as farm groups decided to sue EPA to steal a march on the suits of environmentalists. One of the suits was brought in Richmond, by the Farm Bureau.
In this opinion, Judge Jones awarded Rule 11 sanctions against a mostly pro se plaintiff.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Media figure George Will explains in this column the conservatism of former Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit J. Harvie Wilkinson.
This column describes how a Richmond businessman got taken away in handcuffs for failure to appear as a witness in general district court.
Former Governor Doug Wilder says in this article that FCC Chairman Michael Powell is not likely to soon be selected as Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia.