Saturday, April 09, 2005

Getting attorneys' fees in Social Security cases

In McClanahan v. Barnhart, Hughes v. Barnhart, Thomas v. Barnhart, Lambert v. Barnhart, and Coley v. Barnhart, Magistrate Judge Sargent denied motions for attorneys' fees. Apparently, these were all or mostly cases that were remanded, and on remand the claimants obtained successful outcomes, but then the lawyers failed to file all of the necessary documentation to support their fee petitions, which were unopposed by the Commissioner.

On cruciverbalism

Notwithstanding the study cited in this report, which says crosswords help ward off dementia, I'm up to December 16 in the "NY Times Crossword-A-Day" calendar I got for Christmas and not feeling a bit sharper.

On obesity and poverty in Appalachia

Via YahooNews, this report says some food banks in Appalachia are trying to give away diet food.

Why would a Virginia lawyer read sunEthics

sunEthics is the website of Appalachian School of Law Professor Tim Chinaris - and it is to Florida what Jim McCauley's website is to Virginia legal ethics, only somewhat more user-friendly.

Running and walking for Dean Sutin and Professor Blackwell

This press release gives an account fo the Third Annual Run/Walk at the Appalachian School of Law in memory of Dean Tony Sutin, Professor Tom Blackwell, and Angela Dales.

Debating the nine year sentence for the Virginia spam convict

In this post, TalkLeft says that the nine years the spammer got in Loudoun County Circuit Court was too much. Techdirt seems to agree that more than a little jail time is probably too much. The Legal Reader apparently takes the opposite view in this post. Here also are the DailyKos post, with many comments, and a very informative post from Cyberethics, including a link to a 50-state survey of spam statutes.

I wonder what the Republican AG candidates have to say about this sentence.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Virginia gubernatorial race and Google ads

It says here: "If a Google user searches for Republican contender Jerry Kilgore, a sponsored link to Democrat Tim Kaine's election site pops up in addition to the Republican's ad."

LeClair Ryan and Allen firm merge

This press release describes the merger of two Richmond firms.

This just in . . .

It appears from this photograph that General Eisenhower is endorsing Tim Kaine, who'd have believed it? Posted by Hello

TechnoLawyer Blog

Before there were blogs, I got law tech news from Technolawyer, but now there is the TechnoLawyer Blog - check it out.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Norfolk paper's report on the Republican AG candidates' debate

The Norfolk paper reports here that the primary bones of contention in the debate between Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril were over qualifications and the sentencing guidelines.

I would have thought that the sentencing guidelines and the bifurcation of criminal trials between the guilt phase and the sentencing phase were among the more progressive aspects of the criminal justice system in Virginia.

On Roanoke lawyer Ellen Moore

Lucas from the office is in Blacksburg this morning, for the funeral of Ellen Moore, a lawyer and runner, about whom the Roanoke paper wrote here: "Ellen Moore crossed her last finish line Thursday, ending her race against cancer just the way she began it: vigorously and optimistically, never once letting it slow her down."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What to ask in the debate of the Republican candidates for Attorney General

It says in this SST post that there is a debate tomorrow between AG candidates Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril.

Here's my list of questions, off the top of my head, and in no particular order?

1. Why should Virginia continue to have an elected attorney general - what is the added value to Virginians of having an elected rather an appointed attorney general?
2. Why do candidates for attorney general address topics which do not pertain to the office of the attorney general - and will you refrain from doing so in this debate and for the rest of the campaign?
3. Would you agree that the Attorney General as the person most responsible for pursuing equal justice for all Virginians should be leading the fight to provide fair levels of funding for the legal representation of the poor in criminal and civil matters in the Commonwealth? And full state funding for all the prosecutor slots?
4. Would you agree that another priority for the Attorney General should be to lead the fight for judicial independence in Virginia, including whatever reforms are necessary to make sure that good judges are hired and don't lose their jobs for unpopular decisions?
5. Would you agree that the Attorney General should also be at the forefront of the enforcement of the open government and conflict of interest laws in Virginia - and that this starts with the AG's office itself, which ought to have a better website, one that includes the actual names of all the lawyers who work there?
6. Do you agree that the hiring of outside counsel for the legal work of the Commonwealth should be based on non-partisan factors?
7. What is the relevance of the substance of a candidate's law practice to whether he should be elected Attorney General?
8. Can you state now, unequivocally and for all-time, that a desire to be Governor of the Commonwealth is not even one-tenth of one percent of your motivation for entering this campaign - and, is your answer to this question as honest and truthful as everything else you've said to date as a candidate?
9. What can or will the next AG do to make it so that Time magazine will have to change its Mar. 28 characterization of Tazewell County - if it writes about it again four years from now?
10. Have you heard that all it takes to hire John Behan is an offer of barbecue?

Sovereign immunity in bankruptcy case has Virginia origins

This Reuters report describes the background of the case before the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with a state's immunity from being sued in bankruptcy court, and explains that the claims by the estate of a bankruptcy college bookseller against Central Virginia Community College, Virginia Military Institute, New River Community College, and Blue Ridge Community College.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Interview with Gene Nichol, the president-elect of the College of William & Mary

In this interview published in the Norfolk paper, Gene Nichol talks about a lot of boring stuff - then the interview took a sudden turn, and concluded like this:

Q. OK, now for the fun stuff. Tim Sullivan is known as “Timmy J.” among students. You’ve said you’d be willing to acquire a nickname. Is “Genie R.” out of the question?

A. (Much laughter) Oh, God, I hope so.

Q. Any other suggestions?

A. I’ve gone by “Dean Gene” for many, many years. Many people who know me call me “Nick.” I have said I would leave that to the creative minds of the College of William and Mary students. I only hope that most of the time the names will be printable.

Q. You listed your experience as a varsity quarterback in Oklahoma on your resume. How come?

A. I think great lessons can be learned from athletics, not the least of which is the lesson of getting up off the mat. The question that athletics can put to you is: How successful are you getting up and facing the problems and questions of life? I have three daughters, and they’re very involved athletes. It’s been marvelous to watch them learn those lessons early in life.

Q. Do you still play?

A. I played intramural football with law school teams the first five or more years that I was dean, but at some point a 40-year-old playing against 18-year-olds is not a wise venture.

Q. Last but not least, I don’t know if they told you this during the interview, but there’s supposedly a ghost of a soldier that haunts the president’s house. What are you going to do about it?

A. I’ll give you a side story on that one. My family and I came to visit Tim (Sullivan) and Anne a couple of years ago. Anne took my daughters upstairs and started explaining these various ghost stories and scared the life out of them, particularly my youngest daughter.

When we started discussing coming to William and Mary, my 11-year-old said, “Does that mean we’re going to live in the ghost house?”

As you know, the house will be undergoing renovations. We suggested to my 11-year-old that they’re going to get the ghosts out. She’s hopeful that occurs.

Charlottesville area public defenders want more pay

In this article from the Charlottesville paper, the question is raised once again as to why the public defenders aren't paid as well as the prosecutors.

Supreme Court refuses to take on the case against congressional redistricting in Eastern Virginia

Bob Lewis for the AP writes here that the U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal of the Virginia redistricting case, in which it was claimed that the Republican redistricters squished all the black voters into Congressman Bobby Scott's district.

Still more reflections on the Haysom case

Here Darrell Laurant of the Lynchburg paper weighs in on the case of Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom, 20 years after Haysom's parents were murdered, including comments from the trial court judge, now retired, and more strange quotes from and about Soering and Haysom.

That Pennsylvania case that said there was no fair report privilege for the media

In Norton v. Glenn, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that neither the state nor federal constitutions require recognition of a neutral reportage privilege for the media. last week, while I was down at the beach, I read that the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari on the media's appeal in the case.

Rightly so, I say. The first amendment does not mean that you report that somebody said, "the king is a fink," and that somebody said, "the king is not a fink," and declare that's fair and balanced reporting. I mean, some protesters and protestees are not saying anything that ought to be in the paper at all. If you know that neither President Bush nor John Kerry are Communist agents, then you should not print that someone says they are, at least not without saying that the someone has got it wrong.

U.S. Supreme Court denies Commonwealth's appeal in Earl Washington case

The Norfolk paper reported here that the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Commonwealth's petition for certiorari sought in the matter of the order for the production of Virginia State Police records in the Earl Washington civil case.

For the recent Certworthy newsletter of the DRI Appellate Practice section, I wrote the following about the Fourth Circuit opinion in that case, Virginia Department of State Police v. Washington Post, 386 F.3d 567 (4th Cir. 2004):

After his release from Death Row, Earl Washington filed a civil suit and subpoenaed records from the Virginia State Police, a non-party. The State Police produced its records under seal. After some records were unsealed, some reporters concluded from the unsealed documents that the State Police had DNA evidence linking the crime to another man. In light of the news reports, the District Court decided to unseal all but one of the remaining documents, and the State Police appealed.

In an opinion by Judge Shedd, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s orders. In footnotes, the Court resolved some interesting side-issues. First, the Court allowed that an order unsealing documents is appealable under the collateral order doctrine. Second, because of the media’s participation, the Court distinguished its refusal in Pittston Co. v. U.S., 368 F.3d 385 (4th Cir. 2004), to unseal documents at a party’s request.

On the merits, the Court’s task was to weigh the public’s right to information about Washington’s case against the need to protect the state’s investigation into the unsolved murder. Because Washington filed several of the sealed documents with his opposition to defendants’ summary judgment motions, the First Amendment requires the state to show a compelling government interest to avoid disclosure. The state’s interest in non-disclosure of the documents was less than compelling, because the facts they contained were already being published in the newspapers. Also, without deciding whether the public’s right of access extends to the transcript of a pretrial hearing on a non-dispositive motion, the Court ordered disclosure of a disputed transcript, because the State Police had offered no reason at all for keeping it sealed.

Chief Judge Jones moves Knox trial to Abingdon

In U.S. v. Knox, Chief Judge Jones granted the government's request to move the trial from Roanoke to Knoxville - but not because of all the really bad publicity in the Roanoke paper for its earlier efforts to prosecute Dr. Knox.

The most amusing aspects of the earlier press coverage of the Dr. Knox trial included the testimony about the voodoo Teddy Bear in the doctor's office, and also an expert on the smells of the 1960s, as described more fully in this post.

This is my favorite part:

Chief U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson interjected.

"You didn't think you were doing Mr. Fitzgerald any harm by sticking pins in the stuffed animal?" Wilson asked.

Durham replied that she didn't think she was doing any harm. Fitzgerald was sick one day, but no link to the stuffed bear was ever established.

On Coach Tubby Smith

It says here that Tubby Smith will stay as basketball coach at Kentucky.

Last week, we were talking about whether he would come to Virginia, and I was saying he would never do it, and my brother-in-law said no he doesn't like Kentucky. We debated this for a while.

On Tuesday, as we were picking up our golf bags, the fellow working there noticed the U.Va. head covers on my clubs and asked us who we thought would be the next coach. The brother-in-law said Smith. The fellow in front of us, also loading up his clubs, heard this exchange and declared: "You can have him. We're sick of him at Kentucky. If we still had Pitino, we'd have won that last game. He knows how to win the big games."

Hmm, maybe it's true that KY is not so nice for Coach Smith.

More on the Boucher bill to protect reporters from federal investigators

Someone from the Village Voice has this post about the need for Congressman Boucher's bill to protect reporters from federal investigations.

I don't dislike Congressman Boucher's bill, but the idea that reporters should be entitled to a privilege like doctors or priests or lawyers or spouses is not just wrong, it's offensive, and the rationale that the public won't know what the government is doing unless government officials can secretly break the law by telling state secrets to reporters is absurd.

The remedy is - either the stuff, whatever it is, should not be secret in the first place, or if the secrecy is justified, the leaking should be punished, not encouraged.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

College football loafers get pink jerseys

Reporting from the Razorbacks' spring football practices, it says Arkansas debuts pink jerseys for slackers.

New program for evaluating Virginia judges up for reappointment

The Washington Post reports here on a new program for evaluating Virginia judges who are up for reappointment. The program calls for evaluations by lawyers, jurors, and retired judges. It was formulated by a task force headed by Justice Keenan.

The article also says that since the Republicans assumed the majority in 2000, other changes they have implemented include the establishment of "local citizen commissions to screen nominees for circuit and district court judgeships."

Curing the effect of court-appointed lawyers missing appeal deadlines

The Washington Post opines here that Virginia did the right thing with the new law that allows relief from missed deadlines for appeals by defense counsel in criminal cases.

Why not drive the Dakota to Wise?

This SST post quotes Tim Kaine bragging on how many miles he has put on his Dodge Dakota driving around the state since he became lieutenant governor.

I've always wondered, why didn't he drive down to Wise for the kick-off event that was cancelled because of bad weather at the airport?

Proposals to improve Virginia's criminal justice system

The Norfolk paper reports here on proposals by the Innocence Commission for Virginia on ways to improve the criminal justice system in Virginia, including the videotaping of confessions, the methods of handling photo arrays, and discovery for defense lawyers.

A similar report from the Richmond paper is reproduced here on the NACDL website.

Judge Kelley of the E.D. Va. to decide whether U.S. attorney can charge defense lawyers for copies

The Norfolk paper reported here on a dispute between federal prosecutors and court-appointed defense lawyers over who should pay for copies of documents to be provided to the defense lawyers.

The coal camps of Wise County

The Coalfield Progress reports here on a new pictorial history of the coal camps in Wise County.

My favorite coal camp doctor book is Appalachian Passage by Helen Hiscoe. She was the wife of a doctor who worked in a coal camp in West Virginia for a year beginning in 1949.

Twenty years after the Haysom murders

The Roanoke paper has this retelling of the sensational case against Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom for the murder of her parents twenty years ago today. The article notes that Haysom is eligible for parole again this year and Soering is eligible for parole again next year.

Kilgore campaign does the Bristol race

Bob Lewis for the AP reports here that the Jerry Kilgore campaign logo appeared on a car at today's Bristol NASCAR race and that Mr. Kilgore was the grand marshal of the event.

Extra $2 million for court-appointed attorneys not enough

Larry O'Dell for the AP reports here that the slight increases allowed by the General Assembly this year for the lawyers who represent the poor in criminal cases do not go far enough.

Bill Bovender as Peter Pan

In this column from the Kingsport paper, lawyer Bill Bovender declares: "God forbid that I ever grow up and cease attending games and supporting the Tar Heels."

Funky weather day

Yesterday as we were driving across SC, my wife talked on the phone to her mom, who said she had seen blossoms in the air and thought they were snow. Snow, we laughed.

As we headed out of NC, we passed two snow trucks going up the mountain. When we got to the TN line, it was a blizzard.

So, Saturday morning we walked on the beach; Saturday evening we walked the dog while holding an umbrella sideways to block the blowing slush.

We're No. 8

The AFP's Steve Sisson included this blog in his list of favorites.

Andrea Hopkins takes on Time magazine over Tazewell County

In this column, the woman who edits the editorial page for the Bristol paper says the Time magazine characterization of crime in Tazewell County is of no account.

A preview of the Time article can be found here.

The end of mandatory brown shirts for Virginia sheriff's departments

The Washington Post reports here that brown uniforms will not longer be required for sheriff's department employees in Virginia.

We're No. 27

The Daily Press reports here that William & Mary Law School has made it up to No. 27 on the U.S. News and Report list for the coming year.