Friday, February 08, 2008

Wow, that's lame

The Post fingers the Republicans for a show-down over the appointments of Justice Goodwyn and Judge Millette, both of whom were given interim appointments by Governor Kaine.

There's a quote in there where a Republican legislator says this: "We believe that we should have people that are philosophically associated with us who are judges." I would like to philosophically disassociate myself from his remarks - I don't understand Goodwyn or Millette to be particularly tuned into the Governor or either side in the legislature.

Back when Roberts and Alito were making their way up, I heard a pundit say "there's something to be said for hyperqualification." If merit counts, these were pretty fair choices by the Governor, and they ought to get to keep their jobs, and let the politicians dicker over the rest.

And, if that means no seat on the SCC for Barnie Day, I expect he can handle it.

On Judge McGrath

Rocktown Weekly has this profile of retiring Circuit Court Judge John McGrath, from the circuit that includes Harrisonburg and Luray.

On the latest bar-passage rate proposal before the ABA

Here it is, and here is a story from ABA Journal.

The standard is this:

"A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:

1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:

(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or
(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.

In demonstrating compliance under sections (1)(a) and (b), the school must report bar passage results from as many jurisdictions as necessary to account for at least 70% of its graduates each year, starting with the jurisdiction in which the highest number of graduates took the bar exam and proceeding in descending order of frequency.

2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average firsttime bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.

In demonstrating compliance under section (2), the school must report first-time bar passage data from as many jurisdictions as necessary to account for at least 70 percent of its graduates each year, starting with the jurisdiction in which the highest number of graduates took the bar exam and proceeding in descending order of frequency. When more than one jurisdiction is reported, the weighted average of the results in each of the reported jurisdictions shall be used to determine compliance.

On next week's to-do list

Put me down as joining up with U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher; Lisa Collis, wife of former Gov. Mark Warner; Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim; Gov. Timothy M. Kaine; State Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott; and former Gov. Douglas Wilder, according to this list.

With the Republican race over, I might as well take advantage of what might be my only chance to join the 7 million or so Americans who have already voted against Hillary Clinton this year.

On the retirement of a Roanoke district court judge

The Roanoke paper has this fine account of Judge Julian Raney, which says in part:

"Raney's slender frame, bookish features and reserved manner belie a man who was mentioned in Sports Illustrated as the leading scorer in the Eastern Rugby Union while he played for the University of Virginia, and who overcame a fear of heights to train as a paratrooper before his tour of duty in Vietnam — which he volunteered for despite misgivings about the war."

Electronic filing coming to the Fourth Circuit

In the e-mail bin is this notice of proposed administrative order and this notice of proposed rule amendments, relating to electronic filing in the Fourth Circuit.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On Judge Tower

Via VLW, the Norfolk paper says here that Judge Winship Tower is one of the candidates for a Circuit Court judgeship in Virginia Beach.

Add her to the list of those I'm for or against her, whichever way helps. (Hey, it worked for Chad Dotson.)

The other contenders sound like a strong bunch. According to Chief Justice Roberts, it takes high salaries to get the best people, so they must be overpaying the judges at that end of the state, to the detriment of the judicial prospects of the undeserving poor among lawyers.

Twice as nice

Chief Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. issued opinions in two of my cases yesterday, this case and this one.

All was not lost, in either.

Worth reading

Just lately I've read My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas, and West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War, by Heather Cox Richardson.

I enjoyed the account of the many struggles and occasional joys of Justice Thomas's life, and I liked the history in the Richardson book, not so much the sociology. One of the cases she cited, of which I was previously unaware, was Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874), in which the Supreme Court held against some woman named Minor, represented by a lawyer named Minor, that women are citizens, but have no constitutional right to vote.

The Court reasoned: "Certainly, if the courts can consider any question settled, this is one. For nearly ninety years the people have acted upon the idea that the Constitution, when it conferred citizenship, did not necessarily confer the right of suffrage. If uniform practice long continued can settle the construction of so important an instrument as the Constitution of the United States confessedly is, most certainly it has been done here. Our province is to decide what the law is, not to declare what it should be."

Lawyers commenting on Judge Farmer

The Bristol paper had an article by the usually reliable Kathy Still on Monday, evidently not available online (but who knows? you can't find anything on that lousy website), quoting Southwest Virginia lawyers Jay Steele and Hugh O'Donnell on the merits of Judge John Farmer's performance as juvenile and domestic relations judge.

Mr. Steele's take was that Judge Farmer should never have been made a judge, but in his years on the bench had grown into the job and should not now be replaced - sort of an insult for everyone involved, then and now.

I had a federal court case with Judge Farmer, not long before he went on the bench, and I didn't like him, and complained to Roy Jessee who laughed and said he could see how there might be some friction between our differing ways of doing things, but then like the Buddha advised me that there are a lot of ways of being a lawyer and if I was smart I would watch the ones like Farmer who'd had some success and maybe learn something, notwithstanding our differences. Duly enlightened, I developed an appreciation for Farmer and told him so the last time we met.