Saturday, June 04, 2005

Summer camp for Mountain Justice activists

The Roanoke paper reports here on the Mountain Justice Summer training camp.

The article says:

"If bumper stickers can be trusted, the group is against nuclear war, against logging in national forests and, most of all, against mountaintop removal mining. This is what they plan to spend their summer fighting, and they were here for lessons in everything from Appalachian culture to sending coded messages and creeping through the woods to observe mine operations."

Why a young woman from rural Eastern Virginia wants to become a lawyer

This story explains why a high school valedictorian has declared that she wants to become "a different kind of lawyer."

Tom DeLay retains Richmond lawyer Cullen

The Richmond paper reports here that Congressman Tom Delay has hired McGuireWoods lawyer Richard Cullen, a former Attorney General of Virginia, to help get out of trouble in Washington.

Here's one for the sentencing guidelines debate

The Norfolk paper reports here that a convicted bigamist was sentenced to 60 days in jail, even though the guidelines indicated probation. The prosecutor was calling for five years in prison.

Steve Baril might say this case shows the guideliness need reform. Bob McDonnell might say this case shows the judges don't let the guidelines get in the way of doing justice.

Or, they might both laugh and say nothing, or vow that as Attorney General, each would continue the fight against bigamy in the Commonwealth.

More on the politics of federal judicial nominations

On Friday, the Washington Post had this article that says the Bush administration is about to send up names for the remaining federal court vacancies. In the Fourth Circuit, the nominations of Judges Boyle and Haynes are somewhat in limbo, and there remains the task of a nominee to replace Judge Murnaghan. Also, the Baltimore Sun had this article with more speculation about candidates for the Supreme Court, again mentioning Judges Wilkinson and Luttig of the Fourth Circuit.

Lee Smith on Grundy in the Washington Post

Here in the Washington Post (of all places) are the reflections of SW Virginia literary grande dame Lee Smith on the evolution of the Town of Grundy.

The article makes me think of Dad telling me, after noticing the empty streets in Jonesville as he drove back from Rose Hill one weekend, that when he was growing up in Lee County, everybody went to town on Saturday night, to see and be seen.

I must confess that I've probably read no more than two of Lee Smith's books.

Calling all swamis

Commonwealth Conservative and Raising Kane, in a rare bipartisan agreement, are holding a joint Crystal Ball contest to see who can best pick the outcome of the upcoming primaries.

Remember, you've got to play to win.

Looking at the Republican LG candidate websites

With less than two weeks before the primary vote, it has occurred to me to actually study the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, about whom I know just about nothing.

I've searched and can't find where it says that he has ever held a job, except for a link to this page. That's a minus. Also, he complains that Connaughton Begins Negative And Dishonest Tv Ads And Mail Program. Another minus for whining. He has many fine endorsements, including Senator Wampler, and several pages with his ideas, plus and plus. He has sort of a calendar of events, another plus. Using Soople, I found 11 Southwest Virginia references within Bill

The Sean Connaughton website does not really collect endorsements in one place, which is a minus. He says here that he has been endorsed by SW Virginia legal stalwarts Marcus McClung and Nick Compton, which is a plus with the Appalachian School of Law Republican alumni sector of the electorate (assuming there are more than two). His website is very detailed on his background and accomplishments but has only one page of ideas, which is a plus and a minus. Using Soople, I found 9 Southwest Virginia references within

Still more reasons why the rest of the state can stay home on Election Day

On the continuing theme that Southwest Virginia voters will decide the outcome of this year's statewide elections, via Salt Lick, here is a Roanoke TV news report about why the gubernatorial candidates keep coming back to Southwest Virginia.

Effects of the judgeship deal on the fortunes of Sen. Graham from SC

In South Carolina, Lindsay Graham made himself famous from the House impeachment hearings, and got elected Senator. This Power Line post ponders, among other things, whether Senator Graham will lose votes back home because of his joinder in the filibuster-avoiding deal, and in particular, whether he will take sides with the Democrats if and when Fourth Circuit nominee William J. Haynes comes before the Senate for a vote, or a filibuster, as the case may be.

The Washington Post and others on the partial birth abortion ruling

Here the Washington Post writes about the Fourth Circuit panel's split decision on the constitutionality of the 2003 Virginia partial birth infanticide statute, including some speculation about whether the Commonwealth will seek rehearing en banc and what the en banc court might do.

Judge Michael and Judge Motz, the two judges in the majority, are the Fourth Circuit's version of left-wingers, which means not especially but relatively liberal.

Here is the story from the Richmond paper, and here is the story from the Norfolk paper. The latter quotes Del. Marshall as saying, "They are finding excuses to say that someone who is 90 percent born is not living . . . They’re talking about abortion; we’re talking about life."

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog has this interesting post on the case, which begins: "A decision by the Fourth Circuit on Friday may set the stage for the next test in the Supreme Court of the constitutionality of laws that ban so-called 'partial birth' abortions." Mr. Denniston adds this:

"Another significant facet of the majority ruling was that it made clear, for the first time, that the Fourth Circuit does not apply in the abortion context the normal rule for judging facial challenges to statutes. The so-called “Salerno” rule says that a facial challenge may succeed only if there is proof that in no set of circumstances can a law be applied constitutionally. There is a split in the circuits on whether the Salerno approach does govern in cases involving facial challenges to abortion laws, and some analysts had counted the Fourth Circuit among the minority of courts applying Salerno to such cases. Friday’s ruling concludes just the opposite. (This is an issue the Supreme Court itself will be confronting in its next Term, because the Justices on May 23 agreed to hear it in the New Hampshire abortion case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England [04-1144]. That case, however, involves a parental notice abortion law, not a “partial-birth” statute.)"

Steve Emmert in his commentary opines that it is "very unlikely, though not impossible, that the Court would grant an en banc rehearing." One possible reason why he may be right, is that Judges Wilkinson and Luttig are among the Top 20 candidates for the Supreme Court. Their friends and supporters might not want them to have to rule in an en banc abortion case at this time, in the manner suggested by the plot of the fictional Ninth Circuit Judge and Supreme Court nominee Caroline Clark Masters in Richard North Patterson's novel, Protect and Defend.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Judge Humphreys to head DNA review

The Richmond paper reports here that Governor Warner has appointed Judge Humphreys of the Court of Appeals, a former prosecutor, to head a group that is looking into the state's DNA testing in a series of criminal investigations.

Fourth Circuit panel rules Virginia partial birth abortion statute is unconstitutional

In Richmond Medical Center v. Hicks, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Michael, joined by Judge Motz, and with a very lengthy dissenting opinion by Judge Niemeyer, affirmed the earlier decision by Judge Williams of the E.D. Va. that a Virginia statute from 2003 aimed at prohibiting "partial birth abortion" is unconstitutional because it contains no exception related to the health of the mother.

Judge Niemeyer's dissent concludes: "Can we not see that our discussions and the law we make in striking down Virginia’s prohibition are unfit for the laws of a people of liberty? I wonder with befuddlement, fear, and sadness, how we can so joyfully celebrate the birth of a child, so zealously protect an infant and a mother who is pregnant, so reverently wonder about how human life begins, grows, and develops, and at the same time write to strike down a law to preserve a right to destroy a partially born infant. If the disconnect is explained by personal convenience, then we must reason that all morality is personal, without commonality and source. The product of such chaos is unfathomable."

The demise of the Subway sub club confirms here that the Subway sub club was done in by counterfeiters:

"Ever since the 1980s, Subway customers have received a stamp for every six-inch sandwich purchased (two stamps for a foot-long); filling up a Sub Club card with the requisite number of stamps entitles the customer to a free sandwich. Alas, by the end of September 2005 the Sub Club will be no more, another victim of technology which makes counterfeiting coupons and proof-of-purchase stamps on home computer equipment all too easy."

The first Subway I ever went to was run by some Vietnamese people in Cherrydale in Arlington and I thought it was such a novel and fantastic idea. Now, Abingdon has three of them.

On being a Scrabble hustler

Will Baude goes off at some length on the sanctity of the rules of Scrabble in this post.

It brings to mind a beach trip, years ago, during which my sister-in-law called me "the Scrabble hustler." I think that means I could beat Minnesota Fats at Scrabble.

UPDATE: Evidently, it's a guy thing, according to this commentary in the NY Times.

ACLU wins case about wearing rebel flag apparel to school in WV

Via Brian Peterson, a Charleston paper writes here of a decision by federal judge Copenhaver that a public school's dress code prohibiting the wearing of clothes bearing the rebel flag was overly broad.

Measuring damages caused by cows in part of a cornfield

Via ContractsProf Blog, here is an interesting case from Colorado about proving damages to part of a cornfield.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

NASCAR vs. the NFL

This AntitrustProf Blog post cites an article that theorizes that sports leagues with more integration like NASCAR are more efficient than those with a bunch of independents, like the NFL.

The article is called Antitrust and Inefficient Joint Ventures: Why Sports Leagues Should Look More Like McDonald's and Less Like the United Nations. Now, so far as I know, the NFL has lost just about every antitrust case brought against it - even the USFL got their $1 award.

Meet me tomorrow at the junction of State and Euclid says here that Krispy Kreme will gave away a donut to (paying) customers tomorrow, citing this press release.

Why not nominate Judge Posner to the Supreme Court

Instapundit takes on whether Judge Posner should be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Judge Posner might be the first to say he is but one among many, as he wrote: " may be living in the golden age of the federal appellate judiciary. There may never have been a time when so large a fraction of federal judges were outstanding." (Or so I quoted him in this post.)

Sandefur hangs them up

It says here that Timothy Sandefur is shutting down his blog, one of my favorites.

One of my favorite posts of my own was this one, pointing out the incongruity in using the term "free money" to describe an Ayn Rand writing contest. T.S. was equally amused.

Ode to Elsey's Barbecue

From Merriam Webster, ambrosia is defined as: "(1)(a): the food of the Greek and Roman gods, (b): the ointment or perfume of the gods; (2): something extremely pleasing to taste or smell."

Elsey Harris has got one of these, and the cooked pig they (Elsey and his Kamado barbecue) produce is positively ambrosial. I made a special trip to Wise County yesterday to get my meager share.

What about legislator/lawyers?

In this speech, AG candidate Steve Baril says his opponent Bob McDonnell should not be representing clients before state agencies while he is a member of the House of Delegates.

Of course, the General Assembly has various means of control not only over state agencies, but also state courts, and law enforcement officials at every level. If it is wrong for lawyer-legislators to appear before state agencies, how is it any better for them to appear in any of the state courts? Traditionally, that is what they have done - Joe Johnson represents this district in the House, and previously Judge Jones, Congressman Boucher, and former Bristol Commonwealth's attorney George Warren represented this area in the Senate. (The point being that they were and are all lawyers and gentlemen of high ethical standards, whose political careers flowed from their success as lawyers, rather than the other way 'round.)

What's unusual about this year's statewide candidates is that so many of them (e.g., Peterson, Connaughton, Baril, and Kilgore) are affiliated with national or international law firms - the kind that are among the usual suspects as players in the lobbying world, and not merely in Richmond.

G. Gray calls for Ms. Kilgore to resign

The Roanoke paper reports here and the Bristol/MG papers report here, and the Kingsport paper reports here that Clintwood lawyer Gerald Gray has published a letter asking for the resignation of Wille Mae Kilgore as the registrar of voters for Scott County.

The letter hit the reporters in conjunction with the June 1 announcement of the candidacy of Mr. Gray's client, Rex McCarty, to oppose Terry Kilgore for his seat in the House of Delegates.

I must say this, I never wrote a letter that made news in the Kingsport, Roanoke, and MG papers all on the same day, so Mr. Gray ought to get an extra bonus from his client for his work on this matter.

New degree program that will put Virginia Tech over the top

The Roanoke paper writes here: "Virginia Tech officials signed an agreement Wednesday with the operators of a four-star Caribbean resort that could allow select students to simultaneously earn college credit while getting a tan."

On the use of courtroom graphics in Virginia

Here is a defense-oriented account of the use by trial lawyers of courtroom graphics in a recent trial in Fairfax County, which evidently has at least one high tech courtroom.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Legal Food Frenzy

It says here that some law firms in Southeastern Virginia have been engaging in a "Legal Food Frenzy."

I was amused to see that one sentence says this: "Along with firms like Williams Mullen and Huff, Poole & Mahoney are public legal offices like the Portsmouth city attorney’s office and the Norfolk public defender’s office."

Williams Mullen is the firm of Mr. Baril, and Huff Poole etc. I think is the firm of Bob McDonnell (and also of Tim Richardson, among whose classmates I was one in college and law school).

Two more summaries on the candidates for the Republican nomination for AG

This article by Christina Nuckols for the Norfolk paper about Steve Baril and Bob McDonnell is sort of a fair summary of the main points that have come across in the media during the campaign.

It does not mention some other things, like tort reform or where their money comes from, that might be of interest to some voters. This article by Tammie Smith in today's Richmond paper fills in some of that gap.

In this post, Barnie Day says that "Main Street Republicans" like Baril because, well, he is a Main Street lawyer, which I always thought was the main part of his appeal, although his campaign has not made it a point of emphasis in any way that I have noticed, preferring more populist themes. Strangely, Day points out that McDonnell is tied to Pat Robertson, without mentioning that Jerry Falwell was an early supporter of Baril.

Virginia lawyer profile

Here is an interesting profile of lawyer Karen Raschke, now CEO of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, formerly staff attorney in the chief staff attorney's office at the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Who is this blogger?

After reading this post, among the others from this blog, I wonder again whether the author is an appeals court judge in Virginia - or, I should say, it makes me wonder which of Virginia's appellate judges would be most likely to have a blog. I have some ideas about this, but for once I'll keep them to myself.

Pick one of us

It says here that the position of the lawyers of Floyd County should be named the interim prosecutor while the elected Commonwealth's Attorney serves in Iraq.

More on Judges Wilkinson and Luttig as candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court

The AP reports here on the prospects to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist, which prompted the RIchmond paper to reprint this report on Judge Wilkinson and this report on Judge Luttig, both of the Fourth Circuit and both from Virginia.

On the better brain

This article called "11 steps to a better brain" makes me think I should go have a yogurt with berries then go take a nap.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope

In this Roanoke Times article, erstwhile Republican turned independent gubernatorial candidate Sen. Russell Potts declared: "A Kilgore-Bolling-McDonnell ticket would be the most extreme, right-wing ticket in Virginia history." Potts cast his absentee ballot in the Republican primary for Fitch-Connaughton-Baril.

SST calls this "some sort of Jedi reverse psychology mindtrick." Phil at Bacon's says this endorsement erodes the efforts of Connaughton and Baril "to run as conservatives."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

At least they've both got careers

Via SST, I read this story that says Steve Baril is calling Bob McDonnell "a career politician" while Bob McDonnell is calling Steve Baril "a career trial lawyer."

My own view is that these are both silly, self-destructive comments, since they are both politicians and trial lawyers, running for an office that requires some skill as a politician and as a lawyer.

Don't write like my brother

Via this Salt Lick post, I read this E&P article that says the Norfolk paper, otherwise opposed to censorship and limitations on free speech, have canned the newspaper column of the Car Talk guys.

Judge Humphreys on judicial selection in Virginia

Earlier this month, Judge Humphreys of the Virginia Court of Appeals wrote for the Richmond paper this commentary, in which he said, among other things:

"Selecting judges who are consciously biased for or against a particular agenda in a process that ignores the truth, the law, and judicial ethics cannot be healthy for any judicial system. Judges who are well qualified by temperament and experience and who will faithfully follow the law rather than their supporters' agenda should logically be preferred in any court system. Yet in states where judges are popularly elected, the only question the selection process answers is which agenda will accompany the judge to court.

Virginia is one healthy step removed from the states that choose judges this way. Here, judges are neither elected directly by the voters nor appointed by the Governor but rather are chosen by the people's representatives in both houses of the legislature. This is not to say that Virginia's system is without warts or blemishes, but our judiciary has indisputably avoided the chronic corruption and perceived bias problems that have plagued the court systems of states where the judges are popularly elected.

Legislators can and should vote their conscience on whether a judge should be appointed or reappointed based upon professional credentials and independent performance evaluations. They do no service to the law or the public when their vote is based upon the outcome of an individual case. Fortunately, most legislators realize that if equality under the law is to mean anything, judges must faithfully and consistently apply laws and constitutional protections even when the result is unpopular."

Will there be web piracy cases brought in SW Virginia?

The Kingsport paper reports here that a local assistant U.S. attorney "could not 'confirm or deny' a report by the Associated Press that, among the 10 cities nationwide where federal search warrants were executed involving the alleged high-tech piracy of copyright materials, two of them were Wise and Clintwood."

International rural conference coming to Abingdon

Here is the website for the upcoming conference of the International Rural Network and the Rural Policy Policy Institute, to be held in Abingdon, June 19-24.

Steve Igo of the Kingsport paper had this report, in which he says: "The goal of the conference is to bring together rural practitioners, policymakers and researchers from around the globe to address place-based innovations in health, education, competitiveness, entrepreneurship and cultural sustainability."

Sort of like a blog on what your Congressman has got cooking

The Plogress Report for Rick Boucher shows the progress of bills Congressman Boucher has sponsored or co-sponsored.

On the NLRB nominees

This post says the Senate should promptly confirm Ron Meisburg and Dennis Walsh to the National Labor Relations Board.

Mr. Meisburg is one of the ablest and most amusing lawyers I ever met, and besides which he went to Carson-Newman and Louisville.