Friday, February 23, 2007

On punitive damages and statute of limitations

Initial questions in so many cases are whether the complaint was or can be timely filed and whether there can be a claim for punitive damages.

In Wallace v. Cato, the Supreme Court held that an inmate's claim for false arrest accrued at the time of his arrest, and not when the charges were dropped and he was released, notwithstanding the rule from Heck v. Humphrey, that you cannot sue related to an unlawful conviction or imprisonment until your conviction is overturned or dismissed.

In Philip Morris USA v. Williams, the Supreme Court in a split decision rejected the punitive damages award where it was based in part on acts toward other people besides those involved in the case.

Both of these opinions sort of sound right, and sort of sound wrong. The limitations case could mean the limitations period expires before the statute accrues. The punitive damages ruling means that only part of what makes bad conduct bad can be considered in assessing punitive damages. Those aspects seem kind of unusual.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Judge selection stories

The Lynchburg paper reports here: "The General Assembly today appointed F. Patrick Yeatts, a 37-year-old Lynchburg attorney, to serve as judge in Campbell County's General District Court." UPDATE: They also have this profile on Judge-to-be Yeatts.

The Charlottesville paper reports here: "Republican legislators have selected Cheryl V. Higgins to replace the retired Albemarle Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross."

The Norfolk paper reports here: "Embattled Portsmouth Circuit Court Judge Dean W. Sword Jr. held on to his job Wednesday afternoon as the House of Delegates, after an emotional 45-minute debate, voted 54-39 to reject a motion to remove him from the bench." The same story notes: "Norfolk prosecutor Karen J. Burrell was named to the Circuit Court, and Lauri D. Hogge was named to the juvenile and domestic relations court."

The Fredericksburg paper reports here: "David H. Beck, currently a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge, and Gordon F. Willis, currently a General District Court judge, were both elected to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court for eight-year terms."

On the new mandatory HPV law

This article says: "Virginia law guaranteeing parents' medical rights routed by mandatory HPV vaccination."

Why I park at the Corner to get to Scott Stadium

Here is a collection of responses to the question, what is your favorite spot on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. And, I think agree about all of answers.

If I had to pick a spot, I'd say the Pavilion gardens, nothing but good ever happened on those few occasions when I was inside the serpentine walls, right up to and including the diploma ceremony for Philosophy majors on Graduation Day.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Barnie Day on Barnie Day

Read this.

A good man, Barnie Day is.

(I got there via this post from Alton, who was the first to solve the Code in Notes from the Sausage Factory.)

Today's stuff

The Daily Press writes here of the life and times of Newport News lawyer Herbert Kelly.

The Norfolk paper writes here of the former mayor of Suffolk facing disciplinary charges from the Virginia State Bar.

The Lynchburg paper reports here and the Charlottesville paper reports here on candidates for local judgeships. The Daily Progress describes a split between the delegates and the senators. As the Peninsula Law Blog has noted, today is the day when the judges get picked.

The House Appropriations Committee shot down the Senate bills approving additional judgeships for places including Southwest Virginia. Oh well.

In this story from, Del. Kilgore explains that a raise in the minimum wage could be bad for border counties in Southwest Virginia if Tennessee does not similarly change its law.

In this opinion piece, someone from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund declares that the Dillon Rule is folly. Another folly may be the efforts of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to craft county ordinances in an effort to circumvent, trump, bypass, or overrule Virginia's state laws on biosolids. Their big idea about the non-rights of corporations - a topic on which Professor Bainbridge has some history in this post, including the comments. (Bainbridge is an old Bedford or Amherst County man himself, I believe - maybe he needs to weigh in on these issues more directly.)

The Washington Times wonders here why William & Mary President Nichols allowed a sex worker art exhibit, since that would probably make more people uncomfortable than the display of a cross in a chapel.

The Fredericksburg paper has this update on the McMissile mom, still behind bars, now because of an out-of-state warrant.

The Instapundit says we need to be killing more people, radical mullahs and such, and cites among other things a 1998 proposal from Virginia's own Senator Robb to have Saddam Hussein assassinated.

Here the Roanoke paper profiles "Southwest Virginia's first billionaire."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not the 99 percent solution

Via Overlawyered, this post includes YouTube videos of advertisement from two Virginia law offices, in connection with a discussion of ethics in advertising.

Alternative view of alternative fuels

This slashing post rebuts the recent WSJ section on alternative energy, and makes it sound like those in the alternative fuel business are at heart nothing but a bunch of looters, in the sense used by Ayn Rand.

Sunday monkey vont tres bien ensemble

HOWT reports here that the French want to make French the official language of legal proceedings in Europe.

For various mis-hearings of the Beatles' lyric, "sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble," see here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Something else to do in Wise County

I need to track down Ken Lammers, and congratulate him on his win in the Court of Appeals, in the case of Lightfoot v. Com, decided January 30.

Having seen it from the other side, I guess he is prepared now to prevent any Batson challenges from fouling up the Commonwealth's cases there in Wise County.

More interesting stuff

The Roanoke paper published this remembrance of Roanoke lawyer F. Rodney Fitzpatrick. Somehow, I don't think it is a coincidence that so many obituaries of lawyers say that they were Southern gentlemen; many of them were and are.

Peggy Quince, the first African-American justice of the Florida Supreme Court, was born in Norfolk.

The Norfolk paper has another story on Jens Soering, who has now spend more than half his life in prison at age 40 and there he has written four books. The article says Elizabeth Haysom will qualify for mandatory release in 2032, when she is 68.

The West Virginia Gazette has another report on the big natural gas royalty class action case in West Virginia. Some say it is further evidence that West Virginia is an anti-business jurisdiction, but others say this is a big business v. big business case (and it is, to a degree).

The AP reports here and the Roanoke paper reports here that the Virginia Supreme Court is taking an appeal of the Highland County wind farm decision by the State Corporation Commission to grant the permit. Also, this press release describes a so-far unpublished ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court reversing an injunction order from Tazewell County. (Unpublished is a dirty word.) This story from the Hook says the parents in that beer case are appealing to the United States Supreme Court the decision by the Virginia Supreme Court to affirm their convictions for serving alcohol to minors.

This somewhat lame article describes an interesting lawsuit now pending in the W.D. Va. under the Federal Housing Act. The landowner having lost his zoning case has filed suit claiming that the County has a policy of exclusionary zoning, which is to oppose zoning requests without provision for adequate public facilities. One point the article makes is that the Western District is, well, not the Eastern District. The lame part is where the reporter declares, "Virginia's Circuit Court is the Fourth District."

It says here that a Virginia woman has been charged with maliciously throwing a missile into a vehicle, which missile was a cup of ice.

Here the Roanoke paper cites the Caro verdict as evidence that the death penalty in America is erratic. The jury recommended death after convicting Caro of murdering another inmate at the federal prison in Lee County. U.S. Attorney John Brownlee is quoted, saying in effect that looking for consistency is unreasonable when jurors only act on one case at a time. This article from the Hook describes a Charlottesville murder case where the jury decided on life without parole.

This post says a district court in Texas relied on the Fourth Circuit opinion applying Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in Zeran v. AOL in dismissing a claim against MySpace for negligence and gross negligence where a 14 year-old was assaulted by someone who got information about her from MySpace.

Lynchburg paper asks whether Virginia judgeships are for sale

The Lynchburg paper editorializes here against the nefarious influence of campaign contributions on the selection of local state court judges in Virginia.

As it turns out, the main example they gave was a poor one, as that fellow whose father made some contributions didn't get the nod.

So, when the families of lawyers are asked for campaign contributions, they can say to their legislators that the Lynchburg paper told them to save their money, besides which there is no guarantee of any return on their investment.

Or, they might say that their right to freedom of expression is the same as anyone's and they will not be censored in their expression by the likes of the Lynchburg paper.

Changing the rules for lawyer-legislators working with lobbyists in Virginia?

Michael Shear of the Washington Post reported here:

"The organization charged with regulating Virginia attorneys is pushing to erase an ethics rule that for a half-century has prohibited the state's legislators from being employed alongside lobbyists at the commonwealth's largest law firms."

Shear explains:

"Pressure to eliminate the rule in Virginia was sparked in part by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), who recently joined the law firm of Hirschler Fleischer P.C., a Richmond-based firm with a small lobbying presence. Without the proposed change, Deeds would be violating state ethics rules.

Deeds, who describes himself as a small-town rural lawyer, said his losing bid for attorney general in 2005 made it nearly impossible to keep his small practice alive. His plans to run for governor in 2009 will require a more stable income, he said. But he said there will be a firewall between himself and the firm's lobbyists."

That's lame. We all know that the Virginia politicians of statewide aspirations are supposed to get elected first and then cash in by affiliating themselves big Richmond firms (or D.C. firms, if the Richmonders won't have them) only after they've been voted out or term-limited out of office, not before.

UPDATE: The Roanoke paper weighs in with this Saturday editorial, that concludes the rules should be broader to bar any legislator from working together with lobbyists.