Saturday, July 23, 2005

That narrows it down

Earlier in the week, the Bristol paper reported that court-appointed defense lawyers want out of the case of a murder defendant. One of them said here of the defendant's plans: "he has told me he will give his opening statement, closing statement and act as his own expert witness." The same article indicated that the lawyers were seeking approval for pharmacological and mental health experts.

Is the defendant planning to act as his own mental health expert?

I am reminded that years ago, one of my old court-appointed clients saw me in downtown Bristol and asked me how she could signed up for disability benefits. Well, you have to have something wrong with you, I said, that makes you unable to work. How about mental, she replied, everyone here (gesturing to her friends) knows I'm nuts.

Should it cost money to walk around CW?

I agree with this letter to the editor that the idea of charging pedestrians to walk around Colonial Williamsburg is a bad one.

This is ... Staunton

The Staunton paper reports here that ESPN's SportsCenter came to Staunton.

Best quote from Bill Bolling

AFP reports here that the candidate declared at the Rockbridge County fair: "I will not leave here tonight without my Polish-sausage sandwich and my candy apple."

Special courts for medical malpractice?

The Richmond paper reports here that some doctor groups want Virginia to establish special courts for non-jury resolutions to medical malpractice cases.

That sounds like a strange idea to me.

Celebrating John Marshall's 250th birthday

This press release describes Virginia events celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Marshall, with more on this page.

Right to bear irons

From this C&F post, I read this story about a self-defense shooting, but the bit that stuck out was this:

"Jon Chevalier, a nearby resident, said he heard five shots and went to investigate, carrying a golf club for protection, before police arrived.

'I saw this guy frantically talking on a cell phone in the alley,' Chevalier said. 'Then I stopped myself because if there was a gun, I only had a golf club.'"

Who has a paper trail?

Balkinization says: "Circuit court judges are bound by Supreme Court precedent, are also bound by the precedent of their circuit. So we don’t know much about how they’ll be when they’re unbound, when they grow comfortable in their Supreme Court robes. And advocates argue their clients’ positions, not their own, so we’ll never know if any of the statements he made as a lawyer were his own beliefs."

And so, almost everyone is a "stealth" candidate, except for a few hardcore book writers, law professors, bloggers, pundits, and lawyers whose careers are wrapped up in their causes - a group that might be collectively called, depending on your point of view, a bunch of kooks.

On this point, Beldar opines in response to this interesting post from Professor Barnett that "doing law is substantially harder, and ultimately more meaningful, than just writing, lecturing, and blogging about it." I don't know about harder or meaningful, but certainly different. It's not quite like the difference between writing about golf and making the PGA tour, but definitely not the same.

I suspect that people who think they are entitled to know what a nominee thinks about some particular case or issue or doctrine are missing the point that the people who create a paper trail on such matters are a limited and unusual group.

Due process in 1845

I've just read The Oregon Trail : An American Saga (Knopf 2004) by David Dary.

One group that hit the trail in 1845 adopted the following as their criminal law:

"Anyone guilty of willful murder shall be punished by death and shall not be forced into trial before three days.
Anyone guilty of manslaughter shall be delivered to the authorities in Oregon.
Any one guilty of Rape or attempt at it shall receive thirty nine lashes for three successive days --
Any one guilty of open adultery, or fornication shall receive 39 lashes on their bare back.
Any one guilty of Larceny shall be fined double the amount, and receive 39 lashes on his bare back.
Any one guilty of indecent language shall be fined at the discretion of the Ex. Counsel.
Every Dog found running about Camp at large shall be shot at the discretion of the Capt. --"

There was at least one Southwest Virginia reference in the book, which reported that a fellow named Joseph Meek from Washington County drove a wagon to Oregon in 1840. About Meek was written Joe Meek, the Merry Mountain Man a Biography by Stanley Vestal. It says here that Vestal described Meek as "the Davy Crockett of our Great Northwest, bold, adventurous, humorous, a first-class trapper, pioneer, peace officer, and frontier politician. More, he was the wittiest, saltiest, most shameless wag and jester that ever wore moccasins in the Rockies -- a tall, happy-go-lucky Virginian, lover of practical jokes, tall tales, Jacksonian democracy, and Indian women." That description kind of makes you want to read Vestal's book about Meek.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against John Grisham and others dismissed

The Hook reports here on the dismissal of a state court claim against some Charlottesville-area residents including John Grisham for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

One of my local lawyer friends has asserted that it is in fact impossible to plead a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, that every one of them is subject to demurrer. I tried to plead such a claim not so long ago and found it to be a difficult task, there is some really rough language in the opinions of the Virginia Supreme Court.

John Roberts and the UMWA contempt fines case

The Roanoke paper reports here that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts worked with lawyers from Woods Rogers on the case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court over the $50 million in contempt fines that were imposed against the United Mine Workers by then-Judge McGlothlin of Russell County in connection with the Pittston strike.

The case was Mine Workers v. Bagwell, 512 U. S. 821 (1994).

Official Roberts endorsement from me

Not wanting to keep Jerry in suspense, my own view is that the nomination of John Roberts is as perfect as can be - he has the right resume of achievement that will make his critics look like bums, and seems to be a good guy with a sense of humor (from what I've gleaned from stories like this one).

It seems odd, really, that President Bush would rise up and for whatever reason try to pick the best available, rather than the most politically satisfying. (Ann Coulter for one is not satisfied.) Who'd have thought it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Record enrollment of 380 expected for ASL this year

It says here that when the fall semester starts in August, the Appalachian School of Law will have the most students enrolled ever in its history, which began in the fall semester of 1997.

Applying the well-known judge-pro golfer analogy

Here Southern Appeal links to somebody who says John Roberts is the Tiger Woods of the Supreme Court bar.

From time to time, I've tried to describe some of our W.D. Va. judges with reference to famous golfers, but I'm not sure I need to fully elaborate on that theory in writing.

W and his accent

At some point last night I heard President Bush on the radio say "the rule of law," only it sounded to me as if he said "roo-la-la" or perhaps "Rue La-La," which sounds like a street in France where you go to see can-can girls.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My dog's vet gets nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Well, actually, the old dog's vet is a good guy named John B. Roberts, whereas it's being reported that the nominee will be John G. Roberts, profiled here with the other judges of the D.C. Circuit.

Eyewitness to the argument before the Fourth Circuit in the Padilla case

Jaded JD was there, and he says the lawyering was weak, and it looks like there may be some disagreement between Judge Luttig and Judge Michael.

Best looking lost dog in Southwest Virginia

Yeah, we'll hear about the Supreme Court tonight, but we have to wait until Friday to find out the rest of the story on Timmy the found dog.

What she said and how

What Marcia Oddi says about here about the NFP opinions of the Indiana Court of Appeals goes double for the Virginia Supreme Court - it's an open government issue, all opinions should be available online, whether anyone can cite them or not.

Heck, I'd pay $51 for that

News Thoughts on why to attend the Virginia poliblog summit: it will be "the chance to finally see in person Virginia’s most prominent whey-faced freaks crawl out of their hovels, clutching laptops to their chests with mangled hands."

I wonder if they'll be selling Commonwealth Conservative t-shirts on the premises.

Also, they need a section for bloggers in burkhas or something, to allow the attendance of Old Zach & Co., and Jaded JD, etc.

Might as well, since the law and politics thing did not work out

In this story about a Eastern Kentucky politician who was sentenced today in federal court, where the defendant explained what he has been doing lately while he waited for his case to get finished: "With his law license suspended, Hays said, he has been attending Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary, run by Jerry Falwell in Virginia."

Anne's Whatzit and Sean Whozit

I listened a little bit ago to Sean Hannity run through a list of Supreme Court candidates, then he talked to Ann Compton, who confirmed that she heard (as reported here on the ABC site) that Judge Clement was out of the running.

Holy catbirds, the names of people and places and acts of Congress were really mangled - there was a clunker every five seconds, including Hannity's account of the decision in the case of "the Violence Against Womens Act." Womens? Also, the reference to "Judge Edith Hollow Jones."

Compton said that Judge Luttig was in court today in Washington, and that his wife and children were there, and his wife was all dressed up. That sounds interesting except for the part about it being in Washington, since the Fourth Circuit doesn't sit in Washington, but there was a panel hearing argument today in Richmond, which is what I suppose she meant.

The argument today in Richmond was the latest phase of the Jose Padilla case, who was shipped out of New York to Charleston for the good of the country, and so the Supreme Court ruled that he had to file for habeas relief in S.C., which he did, and got none, and so now he is trying his luck before the Fourth Circuit. It says here in the Washington Post that Judge Luttig was on the panel, along with Judge Michael and Judge Traxler.

Sentence enhancement based on prior criminal record still not a sentencing issue for the jury

In U.S. v. Cheek, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Niemeyer, joined by Judges Williams and Shedd, redeclared that there is no constitutional right to have a jury decide whether the defendant's criminal record warrants an enhancement of his criminal sentence.

This is not to suggest that the defendant in the case actually wanted the jury to hear about his criminal record. In the Commonwealth, through the beauty of bifurcation, the jury does get to hear about the defendant's record in the sentencing phase, and for that reason, most plead guilty.

How many tries does it take for the Labor Department to plead an overtime case?

In Chao v. Rivendell Woods, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Motz, joined by Judge King and Senior Judge Siler from the Sixth Circuit, reversed the District Court's decision to dismiss without prejudice for failure to state a claim the Government's amended complaint filed in an overtime case.

There's something bizarre about almost every bit of that. First of all, what's a senior judge from the Sixth Circuit doing in the Fourth Circuit case? I thought they were short-handed and swamped with work in Cincinnati. Second, since when does the failure to state a claim mean that the case gets dismissed without prejudice? Third, how often does a dismissal without prejudice get reversed, or even appealed? Fourth, it was the amended complaint that was dismissed, so the DOL lawyers will soon be on their third try to meet the requirements of Rule 8 in this case, which ought to be pretty easy (much easier than the District Court judge seems to think) and which the pros for the Government ought to have figured out how to do by now (since the FLSA was passed roughly 70 years ago).

Monday, July 18, 2005

Parol evidence in Tennessee

From on High points here to a Bristol paper's headline that says: "Tennessee Parol Board to Holds Hearings for 400 Prison Inmates."

I'm unsure how these hearings will be affected by the parol evidence rule.

So, it's the beef?

It says here: "the chances of someone with Crohn's being a meat eater were 40% greater than those of someone without the disease being a meat eater." But, would anyone with Crohn's eat nothing but vegetables?