Saturday, March 27, 2004

Tonight on A&E - the case of the Haysom murders

At 10 pm Eastern, A&E will broadcast a "City Confidential" episode, described as follows:

"On March 30, 1985, in Lynchburg, someone viciously murdered one of the state's FFV--First Families of Virginia--and her husband. Someone entered Derek and Nancy Haysom's home and attacked the couple--he was stabbed 39 times, she was nearly decapitated. The grisly murders of the socially prominent couple caused upper-crust residents to fear a possible serial killer--but police had another suspect, one much closer to home."

I've written a bit about the case on this blog, and since I was at U.Va. in those days, my views are about like those reflected in this post.

Slashdot on the local telecom case

I read all the way through this collection of comments on the Slashdot forum regarding the Missouri municipal telecom case.

Paul Goldman offers mild rebuke to Governor Warner

In this Augusta Free Press column ("Strange political bedfellows," 3/26/04), longtime Democratic operative Paul Goldman is mildly critical of tactics used this week by Governor Warner in the ongoing budget debate, particularly in regard to the claim that the House will force a huge increase in local property taxes.

Hometown cable operator still going in Wythe County

The Wythe County paper has this article on the cable operator for Rural Retreat, a local outfit with 650 customers in business for 30 years.

Lynchburg adds goats to groundskeeping staff

According to this delightful article ("Goats helping to clear overgrown cemetery," 3/27/04) in the Lynchburg paper, city workers have used a gang of goats to clear the ground in a carefully-defined area of a city cemetery, with the result that an old boundary wall but no tombstones have been uncovered.

The article does not have any comment from the local chapter of PETA, particularly on whether the requirement that one goat wear an orange shirt in the manner of a common inmate was offensive to the goat's self-esteem, or that the placement of the goats has been offensive to the resident deer population.

Republicans will have primary to select statewide candidates for 2005

The AP reports here that the state Republicans have decided to use a primary vote as the means by which the party will select its nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in 2005.

According to VPAP, Bill Bolling has reported raising $398,619 (including $0 from Southwest Virginia) for his lieutenant governor campaign, Bob McDonnell has raised $472,289 (including $1,600 from Southwest Virginia) for his attorney general campaign, and Steve Baril has raised $440,158 (including $500 from Southwest Virginia) for his attorney general campaign.

Suspension becomes disbarment for Virginia lawyer

A Newport News lawyer has lost her license for failure to comply with the terms of a disciplinary suspension, according to this report ("Lawyer already on suspension loses license," 3/27/04) in the Daily Press.

Still more on the Fourth Circuit's internet ruling

The Washington Post (registration required) had this article ("Web Porn Law Struck Down," 3/27/04) and AVN has this article ("Virginia Net Porn Law Still Unconstitutional: Appeals Court," 3/26/04) on the Fourth Circuit's ruling in the PSINet case. IPTA Blog has this post.

Emu on the loose in Hanover County

The Richmond newspaper reports here that a big bird is running wild in Virginia.

Friday, March 26, 2004

More on why Northern Virginia delegates oppose tax increases

In this Washington Times article ("Callahan balks at increase in taxes," 3/26/04), Del. Callahan from Fairfax County said again that he is opposed to tax increases that would have the effect of taking from the rich in Northern Virginia and giving to the poor in the rest of the Commonwealth.

More on the Fourth Circuit's ruling in the internet case

People for the American Way had this press release about the Fourth Circuit's ruling in the PSINet case. The Richmond paper has this article and the AP has this report on the case. Corante Tech News has this post on the case.

New magistrate judgeship for W.D. Va.

Via VLW, the Richmond paper reports here ("Extra judge slated to help in northern part of valley," 3/26/04) that the government is planning to add a magistrate judge position for the northern end of the W.D. Va. Currently, there are three magistrate judges, one in Abingdon, one in Roanoke, and one in Charlottesville. The new magistrate judge would evidently sit in Harrisonburg.

Hasta la vista, Tony

Today is the last day of Tony Kornheiser's radio show on ESPN, which is very strange, since Tony is not retiring, and wants to keep doing the show just as it is. I join in the sentiment expressed in this column from the Lexington paper, which says in part:

"Here we pause for a favorite Kornheiser anecdote: He once told the story of how his wife, while eating lunch in a Washington restaurant, overheard someone at the next table talking about how much he despised Kornheiser's show.

When Tony asked his wife if she spoke up in defense, she replied that she was going to go over and give him a piece of her mind, until she remembered she wasn't wearing any makeup.

It was that kind of show."

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Va. statute prohibiting online display of material harmful to minors unconstitutional

In PSINet, Inc. v. Chapman, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Spencer of the E.D. Va., sitting by designation, affirmed the conclusion of Judge Michael of the W.D. Va. that Va. Code 18.2-391 is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Interstate Commerce clause. Judge Davis of the D.Md. wrote a concurring opinion, and Judge Niemeyer wrote a dissenting opinion.

Landfill fee suit filed in state court, after federal court dismissal

A group of Wise County businesses has filed suit in state court, after no luck in their efforts to get relief in federal court, according to this report in the Coalfield Progress.

The state court won't exactly be bound to provide a remedy, notwithstanding the federal court's conclusions that there might be one under state law.

To Pete or not to Pete

Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times says here that U.Va. basketball coach Pete Gillen should be kept on, while David Teel of the Daily Press declares here (somewhat obscurely) that he would keep Pete but thinks the U.Va. sports department should let him go.

ACLU set to challenge new methadone legislature if signed into law

The Roanoke paper reports here ("ACLU set to battle clinic ban," 3/25/04) that the American Civil Liberties Union is contemplating a legal challenge to new laws affecting methadone clinics, that are awaiting the Governor's signature. The Senate version of the bill, SB 607 sponsored by Senator Wampler from Bristol, is here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bristol's own retired Judge Flannagan gets Carrico Award from State Judicial Council

As reported here on the Virginia judiciary website, the Judicial Council of Virginia selected retired Judge Charles B. Flannagan II of the 28th Judicial Circuit "as the first recipient of the Honorable Harry L. Carrico Outstanding Career Service Award."

Judge Flannagan has been the hometown judge in the courthouse up the street throughout my career, a good and pleasant fellow who did the job right, as about everyone who knows him would agree. At one time, Judge Flannagan gave a series of speeches to community service groups and the like about legal history in this circuit. He would take out the noose that was used for the last hanging. Another time he and I got to discussing the history of abortion laws in the United States, and I loaned him my copy of the Mohr book, Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900. Judge Flannagan instituted or reinstituted portrait hangings of judges in the Bristol courthouse, mainly I think because he felt like some of his predecessors deserved more recognition, particularly Judge Joseph L. Cantwell, Jr., who served as Corporation Court judge for the Circuit of Bristol for roughly 30 years until the late 1960s. Judge Flannagan was also interested in the use of technology, an Internet and e-mail user.

You can't beat a judge who is friendly, capable, and interesting in learning about things old and new.

Habeas petition denied in Lynchburg rape and murder case

The opening paragraph of this opinion by Chief Judge Wilson describes the case:

"There is no dispute but that Brandon Wayne Hedrick and an accomplice robbed and had sex with Lisa Yvonne Alexander Crider, abducted her at gunpoint, drove her to a remote location near a river, dragged her to the riverbank as she cried and begged for mercy, shot her in the face at close range with a shotgun, and returned to their apartment and went to sleep. In fact, against the advice of counsel, whom Hedrick now disparages, Hedrick spoke with law enforcement officials and admitted as much. Hedrick, however, disputes evidence that he raped and forcibly sodomized Crider, and he contends he only intended to scare, not kill, her. He now brings this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 blaming his counsel for his conviction and death sentence. But from a thorough review of the record, the court cannot identify anything counsel did or did not do that prejudiced Hedrick and finds no other ground to grant Hedrick’s petition and accordingly dismisses it."

Sniper Malvo comes to Southwest Virginia

The Bristol paper reported here ("Lee Boyd Malvo at Red Onion State Prison," 3/24/04) that Lee Boyd Malvo is now in prison at the Red Onion facility in Southwest Virginia.

More on Northern Virginia versus the rest of the Commonwealth

Another Northern Virginia delegate is saying out loud that he opposes tax increases that would allow more money to flow from Northern Virginia to the rest of the state, according this report ("Lingering Budget Fight Hits Airwaves," 3/24/04) in the Washington Post.

Del. May to run for lieutenant governor

The Richmond paper reports here ("May plans to run for lieutenant governor," 3/24/04) on the efforts of Delegate Joe May from Leesburg to jumpstart his campaign for lieutenant governor in 2005.

More on Richmond stop and frisk case

The AP has this report on the Fourth Circuit's ruling in the City of Richmond stop and frisk case, U.S. v. Mayo.

The late Judge Honts from Botetourt County

The Roanoke paper has this profile ("Honts: judge, gentleman, scholar dies," 3/24/04) of the circuit court judge who died this week.

Liberty law school in Lynchburg has blog

Robert Ambrogi has this post on the coming law school at Liberty University in Lynchburg and the blog by its founding dean.

No joy from Supreme Court in municipal telecom case

In Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, the Supreme Court concluded by an 8-1 vote that the section 253 of the Telecommunications Act does not prohibit the states from barring their local governments from providing telecommunications services. Justice Souter wrote the opinion for the Court, Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Thomas, and Justice Stevens was the lone dissenter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

More on the eavesdropping case

An alert reader sent me a link to this article which says the basis for federal jurisdiction in the Republican eavesdropping case is a federal wiretapping statute.

Perhaps then the statute is 18 U.S.C. 2520. I wonder where the requirement of actual damages in that case works the same way as in that Privacy Act case, the Joe Wolfe case, where the Supreme Court construed proof of some actual damages as a prerequisite to the minimum statutory damages amount of $1,000. I'd say the statutes are quite similar, and so I wonder, what are the actual damages in this case? I bet there are none, which means this case could go the same way as Joe Wolfe's case.

Only in America - where we blog in red, white, and blue

I write in this blog almost every day, and quite possibly no one reads it but Roy Jessee, Mitch Mobley, and perhaps John Ashcroft, but in China, the government would put a stop to this sort of nonsense, or so this AP report suggests.

On the Supreme Court's upcoming constructive discharge case

I thought this Findlaw article on a constructive discharge case before the U.S. Supreme Court was only somewhat off the mark.

NY Times opposes Haynes nomination to Fourth Circuit

Here in today's New York Times (registration required) is an editorial opposing the confirmation of William J. Haynes II to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, primarily on the basis of objections to the legal positions taken by the government on war-related issues while Haynes was head lawyer for the Defense Department, along with what is said to be his lack of experience. (Of course, nobody who is chief counsel for anything gets to try very many cases.)

Same-sex couple plan to seek marriage licenses in Fredericksburg

According to this report ("Gay, lesbian couples to seek marriage licenses in the city," 3/23/04) in the Free Lance-Star, some same-sex couples plan to apply for marriage licenses in Fredericksburg this week. The article says the clerk of court does not plan to issue any such licenses to same-sex couples.

Perhaps they are just trying to keep up with their peers in West Virginia, who have litigation going, as described here in a post by Brian Peterson and here (with links to the briefs) in a post by Rory Perry.

More on yesterday's Fourth Circuit cases

The Richmond paper has this report ("Plan for gas pipeline advances," 3/23/04) on the Duke Energy pipeline case, while the AP has this report on the S.C. license plate case.

Two wahoos deny Monticello break-in

The AP reports here and the Cavalier Daily reports here and the Washington Post reports here ("U-Va. Students Charged in Monticello Break-In," 3/23/04) that two University of Virginia students have been arrested and are accused of breaking and entering Monticello. The report ends with the students' denial of the offense.

Well, we know from the Martha Stewart case that nothing good comes from protestations of innocence - and unlike Martha, U.Va. students are subject to the Honor Code, which might cover lying to the police. Ken Lammers says here he might have the message I get from the Martha case printed on little cards.

Virginia - home of dirty waters

The Norfolk paper has this report and the Richmond paper has this report on a new study released this week on pollution in the rivers of Virginia.

Suppression of evidence by Judge Payne overturned by Fourth Circuit

In U.S. v. Mayo, on the government's appeal, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Niemeyer, joined by Judges Shedd and Duncan, overruled the decision by Judge Payne of the E.D. Va. to grant the defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained in what the district court ruled was an illegal stop and frisk by City of Richmond police officers. The frisk revealed a handgun, leading to the defendant's arrest for carrying a concealed weapon, and a search incident to the arrest led to the discovery of some crack cocaine and marijuana in the defendant's possession.

Va. Ct. App. rejects claim of irregularity in jury pool selection

In Reeves v. Com., the Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Clements, joined by Judge Benton and Senior Judge Hodges, rejected claims that the manner in which the jury pool was selected violated the defendant's rights.

On one issue, the Court observed that the evidence was "in equipoise," which is always a bummer for whoever has the burden of proof.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Split panel of Fourth Circuit strikes down Choose Life plate statute in SC

In Planned Parenthood v. Rose, the panel of Judges Luttig, Michael, and Gregory issued three separate opinions, with all concurring in the result that the SC law allowing the "Choose Life" license plate was thrown out as unconstitutional as viewpoint discrimination, affirming the district court's rulings.

Interestingly, Judge Michael wrote: "Of course, South Carolina could abolish the Choose Life license plate Act that results in mixed speech and adopt "Choose Life" as its state motto. Then the State’s identity as speaker would be readily apparent, and the State would be accountable to the public for its support of a particular position. Residents displeased with the State’s position could register their displeasure through the electoral process. However, precisely because this is a case of mixed speech, and the identity of the speaker of the Choose Life message is likely to be unclear to viewers of the license plate, government accountability is diminished.

Fourth Circuit upholds pre-payment possession for gas pipeline in W.D. Va. case

In East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Michael, joined by Judges Niemeyer and Motz, affirmed the rulings of Judge Kiser of the W.D. Va., that in a condemnation case, the plaintiff gas pipeline could and should obtain a preliminary injunction for immediate possession of the property.

No one can fill Hampton circuit court seat until General Assembly adjourns

The Daily Press explains here ("GA session could spell job trouble for judge," 3/22/04) that no one can fill the Hampton circuit court judgeship on which the Senate failed to act until after the adjournment of the General Assembly.

Think if he had gone to Harvard or Yale or Virginia Tech

One small question I had about this post on James Madison was whether the author was suggesting that part of the greatness of Madison was the result of the fact that he went to college at Princeton rather than the College of William & Mary.

Speaking of William & Mary, I got an e-mail last week that says there will be a reception for William & Mary law school alumni at Abingdon on April 30, with the law school dean in attendance and also Judge Glen Conrad from Roanoke. I am suspecting that this e-mail is part of some sort of a hoax, and making inquiries about it, particularly since I learned today that the lawyer down the hall did not get one. I also suspect that instead of the rented hall, the collected law school alumni would be adequately served by a good-sized table at Shoney's, as we are so few in this area.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Updating the blogroll

I've added a few to the list, and I will say that while I try to read them all, the ones that are likeliest to be read have an RSS feed that I can pick up on Bloglines, which is handy enough for me. For my downhome readers, this post sort of explains RSS.

Also, I made one correction, based on this post.

Could be a boon for sun-screen industry

Roanoke attorney Harvey Lutins had this letter published in today's Bristol paper, which concludes:

"Years ago, morality and respect caused our parents, teachers, clergy and mentors to develop some silly notions. For example, marriage was an honored commitment, having a child out of wedlock was shameful, unlawful cohabitation was illegal, taking a holy spirit’s name in vain was sacrilege, and if you said a dirty word to your elders, your mouth might be washed with soap.

There’s another restriction which we have outlived. The prohibition of public nudity must go. If one chooses to walk nude in the warm sunlight on a public street, no one is physically harmed. After all, whose business is it any way? No harm, no foul."

Business legislation before this year's General Assembly

The Richmond paper reports here on the mostly business-friendly outcomes of this year's legislative session, but the ongoing uncertainty over the budget remains a dark cloud for many businesses.

Let local governments raise your taxes

According to this column from the Charlottesville paper, one Republican House member from Northern Virginia told all when he said it was better for localities to raise taxes than for the state to raise taxes, because that way money from Northern Virginia won't flow to places like Southwest Virginia. It says:

"As Del. Richard H. Black, R-Sterling, said on the floor of the House last week, it is better for localities to raise taxes than for the state to do so.

If the state raises taxes, Northern Virginia localities, such as his Loudoun County, do not get to keep all the tax revenue raised because most of it floats to poorer localities downstate. If Loudoun raises its property tax, it gets to keep all of that revenue for its own use.

Black put his finger on the House GOP budget’s position, which is, bluntly and unstated for political reasons: Let local governments raise your taxes."

Why not to be a defense lawyer in the trial of a notorious murder case

The Post has this article ("Sniper Trial Took Toll on Attorneys," 3/21/04) on how the Muhammad trial affected the lawyers on his defense team.

The article quotes an experienced Richmond lawyer as saying this: "No single human being should be given the responsibility for preventing the deliberate killing of someone else by society. . . . It's enormous pressure. I can think of no more awful work in the world."

2.3 million miles logged by Southwest Virginia unit in Iraq

The Washington Post (registration required) has this report on the men and women of the 1032nd Transportation Company of the Virginia National Guard, who drove stuff around Iraq for a year without a single fatality. The Post quotes a fellow from Lee County who said: "We get outside the gate, we keep it to the floor."

Virginia to appeal Judge Moon's order on release of documents in Washington case

The Richmond paper reports here ("Kilgore will appeal release of documents." 3/21/04) that Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has decided to appeal an order by Judge Moon of the W.D. Va. requiring the disclosure of documents about the Rebecca Williams murder case, for which Earl Washington was convicted then pardoned.

Down goes the Vet

This morning, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was demolished, as the AP reports here (with slideshow) and here. Most of the major league baseball games I've seen were there, in the 1980s.

Judge Haden of the S.D. W.Va. dies at age 66

Judge Charles Haden, most famous for his rulings against mountaintop mining, died on Saturday. The AP has this report, which notes that Haden was nominated at age 38 by President Ford in 1975. The Charleston Gazette has this report. Since he apparently had not taken senior status, President Bush will nominate a successor to Judge Haden.

The Charleston Gazette's series on the mountaintop mining decisions is online here. Interesting online articles about Judge Haden appear here, here, and here.

Can traffic stop last until drugs get found?

In this Roanoke paper article ("I-81 stop raises issue of rights violation," 3/21/04), defense lawyers question state police tactics in drawing traffic stops on Interstate 81, where a dangling object on a rearview mirror often sets off a chain of events ending in a drug arrest.