Saturday, March 12, 2005

Michelle Malkin cites John Behan (again)

In this post, commentator Michelle Malkin links to our own John Behan.

More on the low pay for court-appointed counsel in Virginia courts

The Richmond paper reports here ("Va. pays low fees to lawyers," 3/12/05) on the deplorable state of Virginia's compensation for the lawyers who represent indigent criminal defendants in state court.

The article begins: "The fees Virginia pays court-appointed lawyers for defending the poor have been the lowest, or among the lowest, in the country for at least three decades."

The article includes speculation that there will be federal court litigation to try to compel greater fees.

The article notes that in Georgia, litigation over court-appointed fees resulted in the establishment of a statewide public defender system.

In support of new public defender's office

In this editorial, the Roanoke paper says the forthcoming public defender's office for the Western District of Virginia is a good thing.

Local federal judges comment on the risk in their jobs

The Kingsport paper has this interview with the E.D. Tenn.'s Judge Greer and the Bristol paper has this interview with the W.D. Va.'s Judge Williams, with their stories and comments on the perils of being a judge. Also, the Roanoke paper has this article with quotes from judges including Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va.

The poll sponsored by WSLS

Here it is, if you haven't seen it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The states where I've been

I saw one of these on the Jaded JD, so I made one up for this blog. In eight of the red states, plus D.C., I've taken depositions.

The question is, at my advanced age, do I even want to go to any of the remaining states, or is that it? I'm not sure there's any place I might want to go in those gray states except for Las Vegas and Seattle. And Ann Arbor - to Michigan Stadium. And Boulder, don't all the good people have dreams of an old lady telling them to travel to Boulder? With "Don't Fear the Reaper" playing in the background? ("Baby, I'm your man....") Wait, that was a book.

Besides, I'm almost certain there are enough electoral votes in the states where I've been, to carry the nation.

The Jaded JD: 1000 hits

The Jaded JD credits this blog for helping him get 1,000 hits.

Well, since this blog was stuck on Monday until Friday, they might as well be reading the Jaded JD. In fact, I recommend it.

Stuff to tell the new guy

Memo: from Steve Minor

Since you are new, you should know some of the fine points about word processing and legal writing in which I believe wholeheartedly -

1. Never underline anything, ever. Underlining is for typewriters. Use italics.

2. Don't put double spaces after periods. If you do, I will take them all out.

3. Always use curly quotes. The stuff you paste from Westlaw won't have curly quotes. Use Command-H and replace them all, it takes a second.

4. Always use only 14 point type. If it's good enough for Judge Jones, the Fourth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court, it's good enough for me. No court in America is getting mad because the type is too big.

5. Every paragraph must have 3, 4, or 5 sentences - not 2 and not 6.

6. Nobody else I know gives a donkey's butt about items 1-5.

Once more - come to the BLI in Abingdon next Friday

Here is the brochure for the Bar Leaders Institute to be held at the Higher Ed center in Abingdon next Friday, March 18.

It includes some free ethics CLE, a discussion of "What the State Bar is Doing," and a "Town Hall" chaired by Chief Justice Hassell.

In the morning, if you go for the whole kitten kaboodle, there will be a report from the Indigent Defense Task Force, probably the most relevant part of the program.

Speaking of inadequate representation, I made a couple uncompensated appearances in criminal cases myself this past week.

The Big Aristotle to become the Big Deputy in SW Virginia

On the topic of Shaquille O'Neal as a Southwest Virginia law enforcement officer, working with the internet crimebusters in Bedford County, here are links from the U.S. Marshals Service: (There's a New Marshal in Town...and His Name is Shaq); the Washington Post (Heat's O'Neal Is the New Sheriff in Town); the Roanoke paper (Bedford Co. turns up heat on online predators); and the AP here and here.

Charlottesville lawyer sues U.S. over cut in fees by Chief Judge Wilkins

The Daily Progress reports here ("Lawyer files suit over unexplained pay cut," 3/11/05) that a Charlottesville lawyer has filed suit after the Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit cut his fee application by 74% for the representation of an indigent federal criminal defendant.

On singing the national anthem

In various papers today are articles like this one from the Washington Times. The Times went to the Mall, quizzing people about the lyrics of the National Anthem.

This is one test I could pass. Indeed, when I was started high school, in try-outs for the high school chorus, the test for admission was singing the National Anthem. After about ten seconds, the director told me to quit, and moved on to the next candidate - I was in.

Then and now, I can belt out the National Anthem, and do so at every opportunity, sometimes to the embarrassment, amusement, delight or whatever of those around me (generally in the stands at football stadiums on Saturdays in the fall).

Congress approves funding for W.D. Va. public defender's office

The Roanoke paper reports here ("Western Va. gets funds to create federal public defender's office," 3/11/05) that Congress has funded the proposed public defenders' office for the Western District of Virginia. The article quotes Chief Judge Jones as saying that the head of the office will be appointed by the Fourth Circuit. The article notes that the W.D. Va. is among only 14 out of the 94 district courts in the U.S. without a public defender. The article says Judge Jones envisions six assistants, and offices in Abingdon and Charlottesville as well as Roanoke, and that the chief public defender will be selected within six to nine months.


SST has declared that he is beginning to lose patience with Blogger.

Right-wing blogger goons

SST has this post citing Barnie Day on the "right-wing blogger goons" who went after Senator Potts.

Freaked out by the Confederate Southern American reference

Tax & Biz has this post in which he scratches his head over the analysis of the panel (including Judges Williams and Michael and District Judge Floyd from South Carolina) in Chaplin v. DuPont Advance Fiber Systems, about Rule 11 sanctions and the award of attorneys' fees against Title VII claimants in an E.D. Va. case decided by Judge Hudson.

Notwithstanding the language cited, I don't believe the panel was trying to say that there could be a claim for "national origin" discrimination brought on behalf of persons of "Confederate Southern American descent."

Good week for Social Security claimants

In Sumner v. Barnhart, Judge Urbanski remanded the case for reconsideration, and in Dales v. Barnhart and Boyd v. Barnhart, Judge Sargent remanded the cases for reconsideration.

Bushel of opinions from Judge Wilson of the W.D. Va.

In Cellco Partnership v. Board of Supervisors of Roanoke County, Judge Wilson upheld the County's denial of a special use permit for a cell tower, applying state law and the federal Telecommunications Act.

In Wiatt v. Marrs, Judge Wilson concluded that the plaintiff could bring her Title VII claim against the "Montgomery County Sheriff's Office," notwithstanding the defendant's claim that there is no such entity. Indeed, there are cases to support the defendant's view of the case, but Judge Wilson took a view more in the spirit of the Rules, perhaps, and concluded that the claim was stated against the Sheriff in his official capacity.

In Shashi, Inc. v. Ramada Worldwide, Inc., Judge Wilson granted Ramada's motion for a preliminary injunction against further use of its trademarks, in a case against a former franchisee that had been booted for failure to measure up to Ramada's standards. Ramada was nominally the defendant, but had removed the case and counterclaimed for injunctive relief. In this case, Judge Wilson applied the Blackwelder test, considering the harm resulting from wrongful use of a trademark.

In Short v. McEathron, Judge Wilson granted summary judgment for some and denied some for others among the defendants sued in a section 1983 case in connection with an inmate suicide at the Warren County jail. The defendants were seven deputy sheriffs. The Court found there was a question of fact as to deliberate indifference for five of the seven jailers.

In Donald's Electric and Refrigeration Service, Inc. v. United States, Judge Wilson granted the government's motion to dismiss, where an employer brought suit seeking relief from penalties imposed for late payment of employment taxes, on the theory that it should be excused because its tax person had been impaired by mental illness.

In Freeman v. Potter, Judge Wilson denied the government's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim for breach of an agreement settling a Title VII case, and stayed the case for the pendency of EEOC proceedings on the plaintiff's retaliation charge.

In Miller v. Luttrell, Judge Wilson found one of the defendants not liable in a wrongful death case arising out of an accidental shooting, where the plaintiff claimed the father was responsible for not keeping his gun away from his son, who was age 17 at the time of the accident. As to the son, who was in default in the civil case and is now in prison for involuntary manslaughter, the Court entered an award of damages of $258,306.

In Wachovia v. Ranson, Judge Wilson applied the Fourth Circuit's ruling in Wachovia Bank, N.A., v. Schmidt, 388 F.3d 414 (4th Cir. 2004), and dismissed for lack of diversity jurisdiction.

More on the proposal for a single form of action in Virginia

This report and this draft deal with the proposal for a single form of action in civil cases in Virginia. SB1118 authorizing this change passed the General Assembly. The vote in the House was 67-29.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

No joy for what used to be Pittston in Coal Act challenge

The AP reported that the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari of the The Brink's Company, which owns what used to be The Pittston Company, in its case to overturn the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act of 1992 as unconstitutional.

The only thing the Wahoos have got going for them in the upcoming ACC tournament

This article form the Baltimore Sun explains how things have gone weird in the ACC tournament when it is played outside of North Carolina - as in 1976, when Virginia won it at the Capital Centre.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Chief Judge Jones cites Roper in sentencing below guidelines

In U.S. v. Naylor, Chief Judge Jones cited the Supreme Court'a analysis in Roper, in deciding to impose a lower sentence for a fellow who committed his predicate offenses as a young man.

SW Virginia law blog on USA Today

Marchblogness has a link to the post about Chuck Thompson, which says one tribute to the man is the diversity of the blogs which have written about him.

Twenty years from now, when the death penalty is abolished in the United States

The Daily Press has this profile of a Virginia public defender, which includes his predictions for the future.

No tire slashing here

This piece from a Wisconsin paper includes an interview with a spokesman from the campaign of Del. Petersen about the involvement of his campaign manager as a witness for the prosecution in connection with the tire slashing incidents in Wisconsin on Election Day.

The writers concluded with this:

"So, we were just wondering, are tire-slashings common in races in the Old Dominion State?"

The spokesman replied, "Not that I've heard of."

Sunday, March 06, 2005

On the commitment of violent sex offenders in Virginia

The Washington Post had this article ("Va. Court Limits Committing of Sex Offenders," 3/5/05) on last week's decisions in the first commitment cases to reach the Virginia Supreme Court.

The article begins with these statistics: "Virginia has sought to have 41 violent sex offenders confined to a mental hospital after they finish their prison terms under a law that took effect in 2003. So far, courts have agreed to send 15 of them to the institution."

The Supreme Court ruled against the Commonwealth in two of three cases decided on Thursday.

580,000 Virginians live west of Roanoke

SST has the numbers in this post, which questions why a statewide candidate would go no further than Roanoke.

On the late, great Chuck Thompson

The AP has this report on the life and times of Baltimore sportscaster Chuck Thompson, who died on Sunday.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, when I lived in D.C., when I was hanging out at the in-laws in McLean, and more than a few summer nights driving through Virginia from anywhere to anywhere, I listened to and watched a lot of Orioles baseball over a period of about 20 years. I thought Chuck Thompson was delightful.

SI's Frank Deford once wrote: "I was lucky enough to grow up in Baltimore, where Chuck Thompson was for so long the Voice (not only of the Orioles, but also the Colts). To twist the dial when you were away from town -- say, at the beach, or coming back home from a trip -- and to hear Chuck's voice was enough to put you right there in Memorial Stadium. Once, parked with a girl in Maine, looking for some make-out music, I actually picked up Chuck, clear-channel WBAL, Baltimore to Maine, and was so excited that I actually forgot (well, at least for awhile) about making out."