Thursday, December 23, 2004

More on Accused in Appalachia

Here is the link to the description of the A&E program that aired last night on the Merry Pease murder case from Wise County.

I saw the second run of it last night. It was fascinating to see Judge Stump, Don Earls, and particularly Tim McAfee and Gerald Gray on television. I went on a bit of a road trip with Tim and Jerry earlier this year, and many tall tales were told by one and all, but nothing about the Pease case.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Proposed Virginia law would allow death penalty for accomplices

The Washington Post reports here, the Richmond paper reports here, and the Roanoke paper reports here on a legislative proposal that woudl allow imposition of the death penalty on accomplices in cases like the D.C. sniper killings.

Pease case from Wise County on A&E tonight

The Roanoke paper has this article ("Wise County murder case comes to prime time," 12/22/04) on the Merry Pease murder case, featured on A&E tonight.

The Bristol paper has this article ("Pease case back in court
," 12/22/04) about a post-conviction hearing held in the case yesterday before Judge Kilgore in Wise County.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Latest haiku aimed here from David G.

As posted here:

"even cows and horses
with New Year's faces...
mountain home"

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Virginia dog is the Great American Mutt

I've been following the candidacy of Toby, the blind hound from Albemarle County, who as reported here, has been named the Great American Mutt of 2004. Here is the story on Toby.

More on medical malpractice in Virginia

The Richmond paper has this article and this article, both of which suggest the economics of medical malpractice laws have the greatest effects in rural areas, where the decisions of a few doctors to move elsewhere or take early retirement could force rural residents to travel far afield for professional care.

Norfolk paper endorses former Governor Gilmore to head Homeland Security

In this editorial, it appears (incredibly) that the Norfolk paper is endorsing former Virginia Governor Gilmore to be named by President Bush as the new head of the federal Office of Homeland Security.

That's sort of like George Will writing a favorable column about Mark Warner.

Picture of candidate with a shotgun in his hand

This profile of Republican Attorney General candidate Steve Baril includes a photo of him shooting a shotgun (or so it appears to my untrained eye).

The best picture on his website, however, is this one from Scott Stadium. (You thought we were through with football references for the year?)

On money and the race for Attorney General

The Daily Press says here that it's no surprise that former Prince William County attorney Sharon Pandak withdrew her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General if she thought she wouldn't have to raise a pile of money, and that without a pile of money, either of the other two Democratic candidates are probably going to lose to one of the two Republican candidates.

Still more from the Washington Post on Virginia's criminal justice system

In this editorial, the Washington post complains that neither Governor Warner nor Attorney General Kilgore is interested in dialogue with the newspaper about the crimiinal justice system in the Commonwealth, concluding that "Jerry Kilgore and Mark Warner should be ashamed to preside over a system that melts down so completely and so often."

Since neither Attorney General Kilgore nor Mark Warner can change the criminal procedure statutes, I'm not sure that the Post has launched its broadside in the right direction.

Walter Olson takes on the Vermont-Virginia same-sex custody battle

In this post, Walter Olson offers his take on the Virginia-Vermont same-sex custody battle, blasting a National Review Online article by David Frum.

Olson says the central issue is this: "can a party dissatisfied with a custody outcome litigated in one state ignore a resulting court order while reopening proceedings in a more favorable state?" So far, the answer in Virginia is yes, at least where the outcome in the first state is based on the rights of same-sex couples which are at odds with the public policy of the Commonwealth.

On format rules

The other day, I read Rule 5A:4, which says among other things: "All such papers shall be produced on pages 8-1/2 x 11 inches; printed matter shall occupy approximately 5 by 8 inches of a page, and typewritten matter shall occupy approximately 6 by 9 inches." Perhaps, I thought, I should make the left and right margins 1.25 inches each.

In this Minor Wisdom post, it says, don't cheat on the format rules, citing a Florida case in which a lawyer was fined $500 for format issues.

Richard Burrow speaks

In this commentary from the Roanoke paper, former D-Day fundraiser Richard Burrow presents his take on the power of the federal government to bring criminal cases, blasting the prosecutors who twice tried him, without success, while thanking his lawyers and supporters.

I don't Richard Burrow, but I think the National D-Day Memorial is really cool.

On a somewhat related topic, the Washington Post had this story on Saturday about local crimes that are increasingly prosecuted in federal court.

George Will takes on Mark Warner

George Will wrote this on Virginia's Governor Mark Warner.

Seventh grader in Spotsylvania County allowed to sit out Pledge of Allegiance

The AP reported here that Spotsylvania County will allow a seventh grade student to sit while others stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

How many claims of error are too many

Regarding the appeal dismissed where the lawyers claimed 104 assignments of error (as described here on, Evan in this post says: "With 104 issues on appeal, there must have been a reversible error in there somewhere."

What's wrong with making a federal case out of almost everything

Via How Appealing, this article says, among other things: "Forcing the federal courts to handle workaday criminal matters crowds out civil suits and leads to huge delays for civil litigants because criminal defendants have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and everyone else has to wait in line."

On witness credibility

George's Employment blog has this post that includes a useful catalog of an ALJ's explanation of his credibility findings in a case under the NLRA. Check it out.

In at least one NLRA case with which I am familiar, the ALJ listened to the head man for the employer and determined that his testimony was so untrustworthy, whatever he said would support an inference that the opposite was true, even in the absence of any other evidence on point.

This conclusion has always boggled my mind, these many years, but it seems to describe what often happens in litigation - the most demonstrable and offensive liars often lose, whether or not they deserve it. Two famous examples are the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials. In the civil case, O.J. was impeached most obviously by the photographs showing him wearing the shoes he denied ever owning, even the shoes were not the most important evidence; in the criminal case, law enforcement despite all the blood evidence was impeached by the Fuhrman tapes, etc.

A question I have sometimes heard in trials and even asked a time or two myself is this: "Mr. Witness, are you as sure about this as you are about everything else you've said in this case" - meaning, you have just told us a magnificently transparent whopper of a lie, which ought to taint every other word you've said today.

One new Treasury circular that affects me not a whit

Benefitsblog has this post with links to an amended directive from the Treasury Department on ethical standards for lawyers and other professionals who provide advice on tax avoidance. At it happens, there is no evidence that I know anything in particular about tax avoidance.

Would you buy stock in a British law firm?

Adam Smith, Esq. has this post about proposals in England that would, among other things, allow law firms to be owned by non-lawyers and even to become publicly-traded corporations.