Friday, November 08, 2013
If you are not doing it, you should be following the back and forth over the adjustments to the vote totals including what Ben Tribbett @notlarrysabato, Dave Wasserman @redistrict, and others, particularly in regard to the "missing" Fairfax County absentee ballots described here (in the Washington Post) that if "found" would likely carry the day for Democratic candidate Mark Herring who otherwise still is trailing the Republican Mark Obenshain.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Last week's trial in Big Stone Gap was before Judge Samuel G. Wilson, who came on the bench of the Western District of Virginia in 1990, while my clerkship was still going on, and so I met him at that time. When I went to work in Bristol, we had a case against the United Mine Workers, that went to trial twice before Judge Wilson, with Jim Vergara on the other side. In 1995, I tried the Wise County Electoral Board case before Judge Wilson, against Ed Stout and Jerry Gray. Some other time we had the MSHA employees case before Judge Wilson, with Don Huffman on the other side, and then an auto accident case in Roanoke where I represented a fellow from the Netherlands before Judge Wilson, with B.L. Conway and Zane Dale Christian for the plaintiff. Those were all interesting cases because of the people involved and the back and forth in the courtroom, and I have to laugh at the preposterous level of detail with which I can recall them all. Not everyone gets to try a civil case before a jury in federal court, much less seven before the same judge. Strangely, I still think of Judge Wilson as sort of a "new" judge and myself as sort of a "new" lawyer still learning the ways things are, despite the twenty-some years of our acquaintance. Last week's trial was not one for the record books, the details might soon be forgotten but the part I will remember was from after the verdict at the tippy tail end of the case, when one of the Marshals was upset that some people in the gallery refused to stand. The judge sent the jury on their way, then stood up and gave a little speech that has stuck in my head. One side is always upset with a jury's verdict, he said. We don't stand when the bailiff cries "all rise" at the end of a case because we believe there has been perfect justice. What we honor is the pursuit of justice, through this jury system we have that is the best system there is, however imperfect. So, he concluded, he would not punish them for protesting this particular verdict, if that was what they wanted to do, but he wanted them to know that it was earnest quest for justice that makes our justice system worthy of respect. Or that's the gist of what I heard. It was a unique courtroom moment, memorable and unexpected. Probably I won't try another case before Judge Wilson, the odds are against it, but I am grateful for all I have learned in court with him and from him, including in Big Stone Gap last week.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
One of my William & Mary classmates, Steve Mulroy, is a candidate for the Tennessee Supreme Court. His resume is here. At one time there were Steve Marshall, Steve Minor, Steve Mister, Steve Morris, and Steve Mulroy in all of the same sections in our first year in law school.
Sunday, November 03, 2013
I read here that Judge Karen Williams died at her home on Saturday, at age 62. Judge Williams served on the Fourth Circuit. She sat on almost all of the panels for the cases with the best outcomes I ever had anything to do with in appellate practice - the Arnold case, the Terwilliger case, the Cooper case, the Wiley case. I liked everything about her, like a groupie.
Saturday, November 02, 2013
One of the best books I've read in 2013 was Robert Burton's "A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves." The title was of interest when Jill was in the process of being diagnosed about why she had her car wreck back in December. The book revisits issues from the philosophy of the mind that I studied in undergraduate days, namely how can we ever figure out how the mind works when we've only got our minds to figure with. Notwithstanding the discussion of technology and philosophy, the book is accessible and interesting.
Friday, November 01, 2013
I understand that Roy Wolfe, the former United States Magistrate, passed away this week. He was someone I saw every day during my clerkship in Abingdon, during the last few months before his retirement. He was a good-humored man who liked to egg on Judge Williams to tell stories, even though he knew as many himself, and he thought it was hilarious that one of the demonstrators outside the courthouse hollered out "there goes the judge and his henchman" as Roy and the judge walked to a car. Evidently, he was also a lion in the courtroom, back in the day. He was a good friend to me who helped make my year at the courthouse the great experience it was.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Here is an obituary in today's Bristol paper for Ms. Weisfeld, who was the publisher of the Abingdon Virginian. When I moved back to Abingdon after law school in 1989, I was walking around town with my future first wife and looked in the big glass window at her office on Courthouse Hill and she looked back and beckoned us in. She cross-examined us at some length as to who we were and what we were doing there, and I told her I was going to start working for Judge Glen Williams. She said, "oh, I love Judge Williams. He always hugs me and kisses me whenever we meet. None of the other judges do that." When I recalled this story not too long ago at the judge's memorial service, I pointed out that I could not imagine a more courageous act. Ms. Weisfeld was not shy about voicing her disapproval in her newspaper about whatever or whoever was bothering her. Judge Williams back in the day thought it was funny that she was such a big fan of his, and confessed that he had read some of what she wrote, or at least the headlines. He told me that once when he had ruled against Washington County on some issue or another, the resulting headline in Ms. Weisfeld's paper was "County Attorney Screws Up Again." She was very nice to us, the one time we spoke at length, and no one who knew her at all will ever forget her.