Friday, March 01, 2019

Withdrawal of appeals, revisited

I listened with interest to the oral argument in the case of Spear v. Omary.

The statutes authorizing the withdrawal of appeals from the juvenile court are new and untried, and they are the work product of the Boyd-Graves conference.

Section 16.1-106.1(F) lists some things that might or might not happen "[u]pon the withdrawal of an appeal from a juvenile and domestic relations district court."

One is this: "the circuit court shall, upon request of a party who did not appeal the judgment or order, determine whether, as a result of the appeal, a party has a right to additional relief in the circuit court which has accrued since the appeal was noted."

A second one is this: "the circuit court shall also order its clerk to disburse any cash bond ...."

A third one is this: "the circuit court shall enter such order as may be appropriate to conclude all matters arising out of the petition or motion filed in the juvenile and domestic relations district court and the appeal in circuit court."

Finally is this: "Unless the circuit court orders that the case remain in the circuit court, the case shall be remanded to the juvenile and domestic relations district court for purposes of enforcement and future modification and shall be subject to all the requirements of § 16.1-297."

The Court is wrestling with the fourth thing, what happens if the circuit court's order on the withdrawal of the appeal says nothing about a remand. Item No. 4 seems to be materially different from Nos. 1 ("the circuit court shall, upon request"), 2 ("the circuit court shall"), and 3 ("the circuit court shall"), as opposed to No. 4.

Justice Kelsey seems to think the drafters left some words out if their intent was to create a remand by operation of law in the absence of express language in the circuit court's order. Justice McCullough might have been leaning the other way, that a construction that requires an express remand makes much of No. 4 meaningless.

The justices asked some questions about what happens in real life. I hope that whichever side loses the case will file for rehearing and get amicus briefs from the specialty bar groups to address the Supreme Court's questions at the argument.

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