Friday, February 25, 2005


The Senate bill electing new general district court judges was amended to take out the name of Sage Johnson as judge for the Twenty-eighth Judicial District.

Perhaps there is some order of operations that needs to be observed, so that the new judgeship to which Judge Freeman is being elevated is fully in place before Sage Johnson is voted in to replace him on the district court.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hopefully, I'm too lazy to violate copyrights

Brian Patton was warned by the Kingsport paper about reproducing too much stuff from the Kingsport paper.

Legal Underground has this commentary.

But had it been washed?

The Coalfield Progress reports here: "One of three local teens accused of stealing a city police vehicle appeared in court wearing a blue sweatshirt Sgt. Eddie Bevins recognized as his own."

Roanoke Times comes down against judicial selection by the legislature

This editorial from the Roanoke paper begins: "Charges that political donations, not merit, decided a New River Valley appointment reveal why legislators should not appoint judges."

The editorial concludes: "Virginia needs either a nonpartisan selection commission or a system of gubernatorial appointments and Senate confirmation that will at least reduce naked political influence and focus on judicial merit."

Oldest practicing lawyer dies at age 102

It says here that a U.Va. man died on Tuesday night after 81 years as an active member of the Florida bar.

Two women circuit court judges for Southwest Virginia

The Bristol paper has this article about the selection of Tammy McElyea and Teresa Chafin along with Isaac Freeman as the new circuit court judges for the 30th, 29th, and 28th circuits.

The Washington Post opines on the filing deadline missing reform act for criminal cases in Virginia

In this editorial, the Washington Post declares the General Assembly ought to pass the law that would create the possibility of relief for convicted persons in the Commonwealth whose counsel miss the deadline for filing a notice of appeal.

I have wondered about this bill.

Group opposes Fourth Circuit nominee Judge Boyle, wants to see unpublished opinions

Here some outfit demands "the full, immediate disclosure of Judge Boyle's unpublished District Court opinions." Well, I don't know, I would have thought those opinions are down at the courthouse in an order book, where they can copy them for something like 50 cents a page.

Or, they can be obtained through the federal archives. I picture a warehouse sort of like the closing scene in the movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

I had a conversation not too long ago with an examiner in the federal Trademark office. She was talking about the conversion from paper to e-filing. They still keep the paper somewhere. I mentioned the scene from the movie. She laughed and said all federal employees know about that scene.

Another editorial on Judge Merhige

The Lynchburg paper opines: Merhige not afraid of upholding the law.

VBA honors Appalachian School of Law for community service

This press release says the Virginia Bar Association has given an award to the Appalachian School of Law for its community service requirements.

MSNBC takes on the Virginia campaign

Mark Murray of NBC News has an article titled Ready or not, here comes campaign season, which includes some discussion of the Virginia governor's race.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Spam filter eats notice of court date, lawyer misses court date

This post presents the frightening scenario of the lawyer who goes on vacation and misses a court date because his spam filter ate an e-mail from the court.

The Senate votes on new judges

From the journal for the Senate


Circuit Court Judges (40-Y 0-N)
First Judicial Circuit: Randall D. Smith
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit: J. Martin Bass
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit: H. Harrison Braxton, Jr.
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit: George Mason, lll
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit: Lisa Kemler
Twenty-second Judicial Circuit: David A. Melesco
Twenty-eighth Judicial Circuit: Isaac St. C. Freeman
Twenty-ninth Judicial Circuit: Teresa M. Chafin
Thirtieth Judicial Circuit: Tammy S. McElyea
Twenty-first Judicial Circuit: Edwin A. Gendron, Jr.

General District Court Judges (40-Y 0-N)
Second Judicial District: Calvin R. DePew, Jr.
Fourteenth Judicial District: John Marshall
Fourteenth Judicial District: James S. Yoffy
Fifteenth Judicial District: Frank L. Benser
Fifteenth Judicial District: J. Overton Harris
Fifteenth Judicial District: Gordon A. Wilkins
Twenty-third Judicial District: M. Frederick King
Twenty-eighth Judicial District: Sage B. Johnson
Twenty-ninth Judicial District: Jack S. Hurley, Jr.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judges (39-Y 0-N)
Second Judicial District: Gerrit W. Benson
Fifteenth Judicial District: Julian W. Johnson
Fifteenth Judicial District: Gerald F. Daltan
Eighteenth Judicial District: Constance Frogale
Twentieth Judicial District: Pamela L. Grizzle
Twenty-seventh Judicial District: Marcus H. Long, Jr., (36-Y 0-N), reconsidered (40-Y 0-N), agreed to
(36-Y 0-N)
Twenty-seventh Judicial District: M. Keith Blankenship (38-Y 0-N), reconsidered (39-Y 0-N), agreed to
(38-Y 0-N)
Twenty-ninth Judicial District: Henry A. Barringer

The House votes on new judges

From today's journal for the House of Delegates, the following were elected as new judges:

Circuit Court Judges
Randall D. Smith, First Judicial Circuit
J. Martin Bass, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
H. Harrison Braxton, Jr., Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
George Mason, III, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
Lisa Kemler, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit
G. Carter Greer, Twenty-first Judicial Circuit
David A. Melesco, Twenty-second Judicial Circuit
Isaac St. C. Freeman, Twenty-eighth Judicial Circuit
Teresa M. Chafin, Twenty-ninth Judicial Circuit
Tammy S. McElyea, Thirtieth Judicial Circuit

General District Court Judges
Calvin R. DePew, Jr., Second Judicial District
John Marshall, Fourteenth Judicial District
James S. Yoffy, Fourteenth Judicial District
Frank L. Benser, Fifteenth Judicial District
J. Overton Harris, Fifteenth Judicial District
Gordon A. Wilkins, Fifteenth Judicial District
Edwin A. Gendron, Jr., Twenty-first Judicial District
M. Frederick King, Twenty-third Judicial District
Jack S. Hurley, Jr., Twenty-ninth Judicial District

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judges
Gerrit W. Benson, Second Judicial District
Julian W. Johnson, Fifteenth Judicial District
Gerald F. Daltan, Fifteenth Judicial District
Constance Frogale, Eighteenth Judicial District
Pamela L. Grizzle, Twentieth Judicial District
Marcus H. Long, Jr., Twenty-seventh Judicial District
M. Keith Blankenship, Twenty-seventh Judicial District
Henry A. Barringer, Twenty-ninth Judicial District

On the judicial activism of Judge Merhige

The Norfolk paper has this editorial on the judicial activism of Judge Merhige.

Court of appeals throws out cocaine conviction, says there is no such thing as a legal search incident to a citation

In Moore v. Com., the Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Elder reversed the denial of the defendant's motion to press, where the Court concluded that after the defendant was pulled over for driving without a license, under Va. Code 19.2-74, he should have been given a citation and sent on his way, instead of being held and searched.

The intersection of law and technology, Hokies and Spiders

Via Denise, I see that EEJD Blog is the work of a Virginia Tech engineering grad now in his second-year of law school at the University of Richmond.

Speaking of which, I think I'm right that some guy named Figueiras who is the brother-in-law of Dawn in my firm was the co-founder with Rick Klau of JOLT at Richmond.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I bet they don't do this in John Behan's office

From the AP via Yahoo, this story begins: "A drunk Monroe County prosecutor thought it would be funny to run naked across a parking lot and hop into a friend's car, authorities said. But the joke was on him when he jumped into the wrong car and was arrested."

New ban on executions in the Commonwealth for pregnant ladies

Both the House and the Senate have passedHB 1812, which prohibits the execution of pregnant murderesses.

Oh, the good old days

Various Virginia bloggers have linked to the letter to the editor by Richmond lawyer Wyatt Durrette, a longtime Republican, whose letter begins: "In bygone days most Republicans championed the principles of federalism, which valued the integrity of state governments and limitations on national prerogatives. They felt strongly that the separation of power and responsibility between state and national governments fostered diversity and best served to protect the rights of our citizens."

I'm sure he knows more about it than I do, but I don't think there were any such bygone days - certainly not during the civil war, and not during reconstruction which included passage of the 14th Amendment, and not since Nixon was elected (who established the EPA, among other things) or even during the day of Reagan (father of the 55 mph national speed limit, or was it the national drinking age). The only such era might have been during what I think of as the Lochner era, culminating in the anti-New Deal decisions by the Republican majority court in the 1930s - the era that said child labor and minimum wage and food safety laws were unconstitutional. Of course, those weren't states' rights decisions, those cases said no level of government could do those things. Conceivably, federalism has made a comeback of sorts in the last 20 years, as the Supreme Court has limited claims against the states and found limits to the power of Congress under the Interstate Commerce clause.

Monday, February 21, 2005

LII summary of the Kelo v. New London eminent domain case argued tomorrow

Here from Law Information Institute is a handy summary of the eminent domain case being argued before the Supreme Court this week, on the issue of whether takings for economic development purposes satisfy the constitutional requirement of "public use."

Perhaps that firm doesn't appeal many cases

This post links to a story about how a West Virginia Supreme Court justice was in a minor car wreck, and at the scene, a woman came up to him and asked if he was hurt and gave him the name and phone number of her law firm.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

James J, Kilpatrick's take on the Virginia fornication case

Here is a column from former Richmonder James J. Kilpatrick on the Virginia fornication case.

I will forever associate Kilpatrick, who used to debate Shana Alexander on 60 Minutes, with the Dan Aykroyd/Jane Curtin Point/Counterpoint segment on Saturday Night Live.

Legal reform group targets Virginia's UPL rules barring help with district court forms

Via David, a group called HALT is complaining that the Virginia State Bar is taking the wrong view on an issue of the unauthorized practice law, having to do with whether it is a violation for a social worker to help pro se claimants fill out the forms for Small Claims court. Their beef - the forms are too complicated.

The opinion - UPL 207 - is here.

There is a General District Court form for just about everything. I always thought that was a good thing - no need to figure out how to draft one of those, whatever it is, just find the form.

W.D. Va. statistics

Via this site, some statistics on the W.D. Va. for 2004:

Overall Filings - 1,966
Overall Terminations - 2,126
Overall Pending - 1,587
Number of Judgeships - 4
Per Judgeship Total Filings - 492
Per Judgeship Civil Filings - 373
Per Judgeship Criminal Filings - 99
Per Judgeship Pending Cases - 397
Per Judgeship Weighted Filings - 496
Per Judgeship Terminations - 532
Per Judgeship Trials Completed - 22
Median Times to Criminal Disposition - 9.1
Median Times to Civil Disposition - 9.7
Median Times to Civil Trial - 16.4
Number of Civil Cases Over 3 Years Old - 31
Percent of Civil Cases Over 3 Years Old - 2.8

Virginia Supreme Court rejects media appeal on cameras in courtroom

Tom Campbell of the Richmond paper wrote this story ("Rountree: VA high court refuses appeal," 2/19/05) about the Virginia Supreme Court's refusal to act on the appeal brought by the Richmond paper and others concerning limitations on cameras at an upcoming murder trial.

The article states that the Court considered the appeal on an expedited basis and denied the petition, finding no reversible error.

Circuit court records online viewed as a menace

Christina Nuchols of the Norfolk paper has this article ("She knows all about you and you and you," 2/19/05) about a privacy activist who works against online publication of Virginia circuit court records. She has a website, The Virginia Watchdog.

Western Virginia and the Violence Against Women Act

In this article ("Cases with links to Va. set national precedents," 2/20/05), Jen McCaffery of the Roanoke paper chronicles the precedent-setting cases out of the Western District of Virginia involving the Violence Against Women Act, including the Brzonkala case, in which ultimately the Supreme Court upheld Judge Kiser's ruling that parts of the Act were unconstitutional, and also federal criminal prosecutions brought under the Act.

The Roanoke paper jumps on the Gate City election

Sunday's Roanoke paper has this article ("Small-town election, big-time trouble," 2/20/05), this article ("Testimony appears to show violations of election law," 2/20/05), and this article ("Controversy likely won't affect Jerry Kilgore's campaign," 2/20/05) by Laurence Hammack on the Gate City town election, and subsequent litigations and investigations, citing Ms. Kilgore and Gerald Gray and Henry Keuling-Stout, among others. The special prosecutor, Joel Branscom, is quoted as saying a lot of Gate City people seemed to be out of town on that Election Day.

Professor Sabato is quoted as saying that he doesn't think the election dispute will have much effect on the campaign for governor. For one thing, "Ninety-five percent of Virginians have never heard of Gate City, and couldn't find Scott County on a map."

More on Judge Merhige

Here are the Washington Post's obituary, Bill Lohmann's column and his story in the Richmond paper, and this by Lea Setegn from the Richmond paper.

All worth reading.