Friday, May 09, 2008

On Jennifer McClellan

I read here and elsewhere that superdelegate Jennifer McClellan switched over to Obama, which is good because I'd think her otherwise incomprehensible support for Ms. Clinton would be an albatross around her neck for the rest of her career.

I mean, if a couple of old timers like Rick Boucher and Tim Kaine figured that one out months ago, you'd think that Ms. McClellan would have been quicker to do the math. How super can a delegate be who wasn't supporting the likely (and history-making) nominee, who carried the Virginia primary (and the precincts of her own district) by a landslide, had the support of the old school Governor and the senior Congressman, raised $300 million, and was never married to Bill Clinton?

Wow, President Bush nominates SW Virginia's own Judge Conrad for Fourth Circuit

It is reported here and elsewhere that President Bush has nominated Judge Glen Conrad of the W.D. Va. to a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit.

The article says in part:

"The White House announced Thursday that Bush had nominated Glen E. Conrad to the Richmond, Va.-based appeals court, which has handled some of the country's biggest terrorism cases.

Conrad has been a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia since 2003.

If confirmed by the Senate, Conrad would fill the seat of H. Emory Widener Jr., who died last year."

The Roanoke paper has this story, which notes: "With the Conrad nomination, the president has five nominees pending for the five vacant seats on the 4th Circuit."

As noted here, "There are now two Conrad nominations pending for the Fourth Circuit, the other being that of Judge Robert Conrad." As reported here, Judge G. Conrad has been approved by Senator Webb, and so his nomination might proceed apace in the manner of Justice Agee.

One of the Confirm Them commenters notes: "The confirmations of Agee and G. Conrad, though, will likely doom the nominations of R. Conrad and Matthews."

I wonder if this news has Magistrate Judges Urbanski and Sargent maybe snapping their fingers and shuffling their feet.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No kidding

Not too long ago, I was arguing about something and invoked the goose and gander rule, of which I have previously written here. I have heard Magistrate Judge Sargent say that the goose and gander rule "is good law" in the Western District.

The state court judge in ruling on the point declared essentially this: "I won't invoke cliches like Mr. Minor, but I've decided to give him another bite of the apple."


Hunton & Williams lawyer Tom Slater is the new president of the VMI board of visitors. I often tell stories of a case I had with him long ago. Every experience I ever had with a Hunton & Williams lawyer has generated a few stories, going back to the first one I ever met, a fellow named Jim Farnham who did an amazing job trying a products liability case about a riding mower, before Judge Williams when I was a law clerk. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

This article deals with the interesting and recurring issue of litigation between a local government and its board of zoning appeals. I guess it means that Staunton is catching up to Fairfax County.

This article says some watchdog group gives Virginia a D for judicial accountability, based on criteria that are not entirely clear. The article says: "The researchers rated each jurisdiction on the degree of public access to complaints against judges; the severity of sanctions; the availability of online information about disciplinary proceedings; the percentage of non-lawyers involved in the sanctioning process; the level of financial disclosure required of judges; whether people are free to speak publicly about complaints they file; and the strictness of limits on reimbursements, compensation and honoraria for privately sponsored trips by judges."

This story says a Christiansburg developer has sued some people over what was said about him on a blog, which I checked out and it led me eventually to this page with an interactive map of the Falling Branch industrial park, and if you scroll on the map down to the big water tank and keep going you can see the little house with the big bushes where Grandma and Grandpa Conrad lived, and their barn, and Uncle Joe's house, all of which seems like a safer topic for a blogger than the lawsuit of the guy suing the bloggers.

This article on one of the lawyer boards says the Virginia Tech shootings may lead the General Assembly to increase the $100,000 cap under the Virginia Tort Claims Act, and links to this Washington Post story. Of course, at common law, the de facto cap was $0, I suspect, as it still is today in some respects and for some defendants, such as counties.

The Daily Press had this interesting report about the status of desegregation orders that required school busing in Newport News, still in place after 37 years.

The online ABA Journal has picked up on the locally-notorious federal court disciplinary case against a Knoxville lawyer, calling him the Lawyer Who Wouldn’t Stop Talking.

New magistrate judge to serve in Southwest Virginia

This order says that in recognition of the caseload coming out of the Cumberland Gap park, a magistrate judge shall be empowered to handle cases from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia - and it will be any full-time magistrate judge from the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Grad student's suit fails to pass

In Brown v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, Judge Moon granted the motion to dismiss from the defendants in a case filed by an ex-graduate student.

And, it is a case study of the hurdles to stating a claim against a state school: (1) there is some talk about Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, which provides cover to district courts wanting to move on lame complaints at the pleadings stage; (2) the Eleventh Amendment bars relief against the University as an agency of the Commonwealth - (query, why doesn't the same rule apply to local school boards?); (3) qualified immunity protects individuals in all but the clearest cases of constitutional violations; (4) on a Due Process claim, what procedural process is due is not much, at least not for academic dismissals, or even disciplinary dismissals; and (5) you can't actually rely on representations in a student handbook that are qualified by the customary disclaimer.

Monday, May 05, 2008

He said it

"When Justice Agee is confirmed as a federal circuit judge, the Fourth Circuit will have fewer vacancies than at the end of the Clinton administration."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, on the occasion of last week's Judiciary Committee hearing for Justice Agee's nomination to the Fourth Circuit. His comments are taken to mean that Justice Agee will be confirmed this month, as suggested here and here, even though he will be cutting line ahead of others less fortunate.

With Justice Agee's apparent success in Washington, behind him begins the speculation over his successor, such as this piece by Jeff Shapiro, which says that maybe there can be a big political deal involving Agee's seat on the Supreme Court and the vacancy on the State Corporation Commission - the one that would have been filled already, says Shapiro, but for internecine bickering among the Republicans.

And, this committee may have to meet, which is excellent, because I enjoy listening to lawyers like Glenn Pulley and Taz Ellett, every chance I get.

Max and Gina

Max Lawson and his girlfriend Gina, who both have worked here off and on, have this website about their wedding, coming up next month.

They mailed the invitations with postage bearing their photo and web address, made here.

Chief Judge Jones rejects liberty interest claim

The Constitution protects against deprivations of life, liberty, and property without due process of law.

Somewhere along the way came the notion that the concept of liberty includes freedom from being bad-mouthed by the government, but there's more to it than that, as evidenced by the ruling in April by Judge Jones in Etter v. Spencer.

The only such claim that I can recall getting anywhere was in the case of the NCAA compliance officer thrown under the bus by Marshall University, and even in that case there was a dissent from Judge Widener.