Thursday, June 14, 2007

Penalty clause in commercial real estate contract declared invalid

In ACL Realty Corp. v. .Com Properties, LLC, Judge Conrad of the W.D. Va. declared invalid as a penalty a provision in a real estate contract, where the contract provided separately for liquidated damages and the amount of money to be paid under the contested provision was disproportionate to any actual damages.

I tried to argue something similar related to the late fees in an equipment lease, not too long ago, citing among other cases Abbs's Moving Service v. Wooldridge, 612 So. 2d 449, 452 (Ala. 1993) ("We have considered the argument that the late fee provisions of the lease should be declared a penalty and, therefore, void as against public policy. We conclude from a reading of the lease--which allows for a 5% charge for rent 5 days overdue and then an additional 5% charge for every 30 days thereafter that a portion of the rent is outstanding--that the lease imposes a penalty.")

Under Va. Code § 8.2A-108(1), a court can refuse to enforce an unconscionable term in an equipment lease.

Webb and Warner send five names to White House for Fourth Circuit

The Richmond paper reports here, the Roanoke paper reports here, and the Charlottesville paper reports here that Senators Warner and Webb have sent to President Bush the names of Justices Agee and Lemons, U.S. District Judge Conrad, lawyer Thomas Albro, and Richmond law professor John Douglass for nomination to the Fourth Circuit.

If those are the choices, I'm rooting for Judge Conrad, whom my Grandma Conrad claimed was somehow kin to us, and is from Southwest Virginia and lived for a while in Abingdon, and went to William & Mary Law, and clerked in the W.D. Va. before he became magistrate judge.

On being the best-read Virginia law blog

Guy Tower sent out his note to the VBA, saying this week that SW Virginia law blog is the best-read Virginia law blog, according to Justia.

My comments are these:

1. The rankings don't count Steve Emmert's site or the VLW blog, which really are the best.

2. Being the best-read Virginia law blog could be one of those distinctions like best sushi in Buchanan County - not much distance between best and worst.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Primary night

Geez, my friends Mickey McGlothlin and Rip Sullivan both lost - one by less than 600 on turnout of 14%, one by less than 300 on turnout of 6%.

What were the other 80-90% of the registered voters doing today?

Surgery this week

I'm in Richmond area this week, not just for the graduation, but also because my father-in-law is having an operation. He is a fun guy, and here is one of my favorite pictures of him with Dana.

On Justice Lacy's announcement

Years ago, I made my first of so far only two appearances before the Virginia Supreme Court, and took my wife along.

Afterwards, I asked her impressions, and one was that one of the justices wore really nice earrings.

Some time later, I told this story to Justice Lacy, whose earrings they were, and she laughed.

According to this VLW story, Justice Lacy will soon retire from the Court, and so it appears that she will not become Chief Justice in her time on the Court.

On James River graduation

Yesterday, I watched the nephew Andrew graduate with the 500+ members of the James River High School Class of 2007.

Governor Kaine was the main speaker. And, his remarks were very well done, he is an excellent speaker. He said the two things he remembered from his high school graduation in Kansas City were saying goodbye to his ex-girlfriend and watching one of the football guys hugging and carrying on with his parents. So, he said, if he could remember those two things after 35 years, he suggested the grads do likewise - clear the air with those you won't see again, and don't hold back on hugging your parents. He also said, be informed voters, not apathetic non-voters, noting that when Linwood Holton was elected in 1969, more than two-thirds of Virginia's registered voters participated, but when he was elected two years ago, the turnout was less than 50 percent. He said you need to vote because sometimes, every now and then, what elected officials do is important.

From last fall, here are the graduate and I.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

But where's Old Zach?

Sic Semper makes a comeback, with a new line-up, including Norm Leahy.

Old Zach of the old SST came up to me at some event and said, "I'm Old Zach," which left me momentarily at a loss, in the sense that when Murphy Brown told Frank Fontana "the stick is blue," he could only reply "the dog barks at midnight."

On protesting in Rome

President Bush is in Rome this weekend, and there are protesters.

I took this picture in Rome in June of last year. There were just about as many guys there with machine guns as there were protesters, but I didn't think pointing my camera at them would be a good idea.

On preserving our culture

Bill Hobbs reports here on what happens when you order a BLT from someone from who doesn't know that the LT stands for "lechuga" and "tomate."

On the problem of older lawyers

The "Joint Committee on Aging Lawyers" of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers has produced this somewhat pithy but interesting Final Report, which studies "the challenges raised by aging lawyers."

Judge Williams, now 87, sometimes retells a version of a story described here -

"One of the first of many standard stories recounted about the Supreme Court tells how his brethren went to an aging Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes to get him to step down and reminded the justice of similar entreaties he had made to Justice Stephen Field nearly a half century prior. Holmes is said to have responded to his younger colleagues that he had never himself done a dirtier days work."

Must have been a cat fancier

This TalkLeft post describes a Vermont case, in which the defendant was charged with making faces at a police dog.

Unrelated but equally bizarre is this Volokh post about a judge whose sentencing memorandum contains the titles of 40+ Beatles songs (in two pages).

Avvo, oh no

At Overlawyered, they say the new lawyer rating service Avvo is already the subject of threats of litigation by lawyers wanting better ratings.

I don't Avvo has got around to Virginia or Tennessee lawyers, yet, but if Homer Simpson gets arrested in Washington State, I'm sure he'll call this guy.

Here is an interesting CNET article, listing the Avvo ratings for Alberto Gonzalez, Harriet Miers, and others.

On Rick Klau

I read this Denise Howell post, which notes that blogger and software entrepreneur Rick Klau has joined up with Google.

Rick Klau is among other things a graduate of the law school at the University of Richmond, where he was among other things among the founding fathers of JOLT. At one time I heard that he started JOLT with the brother-in-law of my colleague Dawn Figueiras, but the facts have faded on me.

Well done, Rick.