Thursday, March 30, 2006

Funky kind of month

I was on the road a couple of days each week in March - including Clintwood, Grundy, Wise, Wytheville, Roanoke, Richmond, Lebanon, and tomorrow Norfolk.

Two of my clients were paid large sums of money in the month of March.

Our office received a six-page blank fax.

A paralegal in Roanoke sent me an e-mail asking if she could take off Wednesday afternoon. (I replied that it was fine with me.)

A Virginia lawyer called me asking for a referral for a Knoxville lawyer while I was working on a case referred to me in Virginia by a Knoxville lawyer. (Hmm, who do we know in Knoxville?)

There were snowball fights at the friendly neighborhood NASCAR race, and George Mason made the Final Four.

We got in at what was more like the end rather than the beginning of two cases.

I saw pictures of two of my clients on the Internet.

I saw a picture of Rick Boucher and his fiancee on Brian Patton's blog, then I saw pictures of Brian Patton in the newspapers.

The office started using the network in timekeeping, best thing since sliced bananas.

The best legal writing of the month was a three-page brief (ok, five pages, with the certificate of service).

I received instruction on how to avoid the Doo-Dah Parade.

Now, that's a funky kind of month. I'm kind of wishing there were a few more days of it.

Ian's taxonomy of law blogs

Here is Ian's "finished" taxonomy of legal blogs, and what an amazing piece of work it is.

Somewhat similarly, I like

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Free software I use every day

I got a three year-old computer for $50 for my dad who gave it to his brother, who is learning how to use it mostly from his grandson.

Dad says the spam, spyware, and viruses are a problem. I said try the free stuff.

Here's the short list of free programs I use every day, either at home or at work:

AVG Anti-virus
ZoneAlarm firewall
Ad-aware and Windows Defender
Firefox and Thunderbird
Copernic Desktop search
Evernote, for taking notes and clipping weblinks and whatever
pdf 995

No FTCA claim for fraud by an undercover FBI man

In Suter v. U.S., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Chief Judge Wilkins, joined by Judges Wilkinson and Niemeyer, affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiffs' Federal Tort Claims Act claim based on the alleged fraudulent activities of an FBI agent working undercover.

Perjury indictment in the W.D. Va.

In U.S. v. McClanahan, Magistrate Judge Sargent recommended against dismissal of the two counts of obstruction of justice and five counts of perjury brought against the defendant. In the superseding indictment, "it is specifically alleged that the defendant obstructed justice by knowingly making material false statements in his sworn deposition and his discovery responses in the civil action and in his sworn testimony before the grand jury."

A few years back I recall hearing testimony before a committee of the House of Representatives related to a famous case that people don't really get prosecuted for perjury in civil cases, and rebuttal from a couple of people who were prosecuted for perjury in civil cases.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Those unknown Patriots from Fairfax County

From this Cox news service story:

"If not Cinderella, just who or what is George Mason?

That's the question basketball fans across America were asking after the Patriots defeated top seed University of Connecticut in overtime Sunday to advance to the Final Four. On Saturday they'll play the University of Florida for a shot at the national championship.

Like its namesake, who has been dubbed "the forgotten Founding Father," the commuter university in a suburb of the nation's capital has long been overlooked among Virginia colleges. The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, and the College of William and Mary, where Jefferson was educated, have garnered the academic glory. Virginia Tech became a national football powerhouse.

Who knew that George Mason --with 29,600 students -- was the largest university in the state?

Who remembered that George Mason helped write the U.S. Constitution, then refused to sign it because it didn't initially contain a Bill of Rights?

Indeed, alone among Virginia universities, George Mason has two Nobel Prize winners on its faculty: James Buchanan in 1986 and Vernon Smith in 2002, both for economics."

Virginia case being argued before Supreme Court this week

The Bustillo case from Fairfax County is being argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

According to AG McDonnell's office, "[t]he case of Mario Bustillo v. Commonwealth of Virginia centers on the rights of foreign nationals in criminal cases in the United States," as it involves "questions of whether the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations Treaty can create rights that can be enforced in courts, and, if so, whether the Treaty requires the Virginia Courts to ignore Virginia law on procedural default."

The LII has this preview of the argument, including a link to Bustillo's brief.

The appeal is from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Virginia Supreme Court, which refused to hear Bustillo's petition raising international law issues because of procedural defaults. Of the original trial, the LII summary says:

"On December 10, 1997 Petitioner Bustillo, a Honduran national, was arrested after several eye-witnesses identified him as the man who struck and killed a man with a baseball bat. See Bustillo’s Brief at 4-5. Bustillo and other witnesses maintain that another Honduran national known as ‘Sirena’ committed the murder. See Bustillo’s Brief at 5. Like Sanchez-Llamas, Bustillo was never told of the Vienna Convention treaty that would allow him to speak with the Honduran Consulate and the police never notified the Honduran Consulate of Bustillo’s arrest. See Bustillo’s Brief at 5-6. Based only on the eye-witness testimony, Bustillo was convicted of first-degree murder. See Bustillo’s Brief at 6-7. On appeal, counsel realized that Bustillo was never advised of his right to consular communication and was informed that the Honduran Consulate would have provided assistance at trial had they known of his arrest and indictment. See Bustillo’s Brief at 8-9."

Monday, March 27, 2006

New circuit judge profile

Someone sent me this hard-hitting profile of soon to be Judge Showalter, of the 27th Circuit.

Appellate judge for a day

I invite all of my litigating colleagues with delusions of grandeur and other black robe fetishists to contact Professor Deborah Green at the Appalachian School of Law about joining the gang of lawyers who will help her judge the appellate advocacy of her students in Grundy on April 15.

Hey, the Masters will be over by then, what else are you going to do?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

On online records

This consumer reporter's report is critical of the state of Virginia law regarding online circuit court records.

On Reuben v. Rueben

Didn't I win that case?

I was in Richmond last Monday and once again, did not eat at Padow's.

Why are we the last to know here in the Fourth Circuit

Howard Bashman reports here that the Fourth Circuit is among the very few in its practice of concealing the names of the judges on your panel until the day of the argument.

I have never understood this practice, but I suppose it does make oral argument a bit more sporting, especially when there is some judge sitting on the panel by designation and you never heard of him or her before.

On law professors

The good judge at Have Opinion, Will Travel says this, response to the recent musings online about why law professors don't have more fun:

"I have long done a bit of teaching as an adjunct at a couple of different law schools and I think that Professor Livingston makes an interesting point with one caveat. The law faculty I interact with seem to fall into a couple of categories. One group consists of professors with a mindset that 'it is all about turning out good lawyers.' In other words, the students come first last and always. The other group seems to consist of professors with an 'it's all about me' approach where the focus is simply on demonstrating that you know more about the subject matter than anyone else on the planet and members of this group seem to me to be indifferent to whether anyone actually learns anything."