Thursday, December 22, 2005

On whether federal inmates sued in federal court get guardians ad litem

In Buchanan County v. Blankenship, Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. denied the request of some of the incarcerated defendants for the appointment of guardians ad litem.

Since I'm in the case, I won't say anything about it, except that Judge Jones thought the issue was interesting enough to submit the opinion for publication in the Federal Supplement.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The budget for the court system in Virginia

Bacon's has been blogging the budget, including the judicial system.

It says 3,100 jobs and a budget of $330 million are the current figures.

On using the c-word

Via Overlawyered, I read this article about the black defense lawyer who, after a losing a trial, rode the elevator with some of the the jurors from the case and called them "just a bunch of crackers," and it makes me think of that SNL skit with Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase conducting a word association exercise, first broadcast 30 years and eight days ago. (Amazing, that long ago?)

Judge Posner on the economics of capital punishment

In this remarkable post, Judge Posner explains that there is evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect, citing one study which shows that "one execution deters 18 murders," and expressing his view that "[t]he number of people who are executed for a murder they did not commit appears to be vanishingly small," while concluding that "even with the existing, excessive, delay, the recent evidence concerning the deterrent effect of capital punishment provides strong support for resisting the abolition movement."

The Padilla case

Steve Emmert at Virginia Appellate News links to today's opinion in the Padilla case, in which Judge Luttig joined Judge Michael refused to accommodate what Judge Luttig suggested appears to be the government's efforts to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the earlier panel decision in the case, deciding instead that the Supreme Court ought to have a chance to review the earlier opinion in the case.

Judge Luttig goes on explain his view that the government is making a big mistake by its handling of this case:

"For, as the government surely must understand, although the various facts it has asserted are not necessarily inconsistent or without basis, its actions have left not only the impression that Padilla may have been held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake –- an impression we would have thought the government could ill afford to leave extant. They have left the impression that the government may even have come to the belief that the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla for this time, that the President possesses the authority to detain enemy combatants who enter into this country for the purpose of attacking America and its citizens from within, can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror –- an impression we would have thought the government likewise could ill afford to leave extant. And these impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be substantial cost to the government’s credibility before the courts, to whom it will one day need to argue again in support of a principle of assertedly like importance and necessity to the one that it seems to abandon today. While there could be an objective that could command such a price as all of this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

On the passing of a Southwest Virginia blogger

From Smyth County, Julie Whitt wrote Breath of Heaven, and her friends wrote about her here. In her writing, she was full of love and hope, hope for a day when she could be healthy, and be a mom, and grow old with her husband.

On December 12, 2005, a week before she died, she wrote this post, which says in part:

"It’s not easy being stuck in a body that doesn’t work, but at least I have a chance at a way out. There’s a commercial that reminds me of me. A girl is walking down a city street listening to her mp3 player. She passes a building with reflective windows and you see her reflection dancing to the music. In reality she’s just walking, but she’s dancing in her mind. I’ve been dancing in my head for 17 years. I’m very eager to be the girl dancing in the reflection."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mr. Kilgore's new job

Here, the Williams Mullen firm announced the formation of its "Multistate Corporate Compliance & Public Policy Group" led by Jerry Kilgore.

Newsweek covers the Virginians

In this article, Newsweek profiles Governor Warner and Senator Allen, but without any James Drury (he played The Virginian on TV).

Speaking of the Virginians, today I was in the presence of John Brownlee and Chad Dotson at the same time, in the same room, and without any criminals present.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

On citation to unpublished opinions

HOWT explains here why citation to unpublished opinions should never be a problem: "If we have done our job properly, there is no need to ever cite an unpublished opinion because, theoretically at least, there should be a published opinion on the same point."

ALso, he notes: "an unpublished opinion is not circulated beyond the members of the panel while a published opinion is circulated to the full court for review and comment (although only the members of the panel have a vote on the outcome)."

These are good reasons why an unpublished opinion is less persuasive, but not good reasons for prohibiting an enterprising lawyer to cite an unpublished opinion, and make of it whatever he can.

Interesting profile of Richmond deputy prosecutor soon to leave office

In this article, the Richmond paper chronicles the colorful life and times of Tony Spencer, who is leaving office with his friend and colleague the Commonwealth's attorney in Richmond.

Here's one provocative sentence: "Sandwiched between stints as a practicing attorney, Spencer tended bar, played trumpet in a ska band and taught English in Spain."