Saturday, July 05, 2003

Back to school for new Virginia judges

The Daily Press has this article on judges' school for the new appointees to the bench in Virginia's courts, and quotes my law school classmate Bryant Sugg, who just became a General District Court judge in Newport News.

On losing faculty from Virginia's public colleges and universities

The Virginia Gazette has this report on the difficulty of keeping faculty members at William & Mary.

On singing the national anthem

My favorite sports highlight of the year was Coach Mo Cheeks helping a girl sing the National Anthem in Portland during the NBA playoffs - here is a video clip (requires Windows Media player) of the coach helping the girl remember the words, and the crowd joining them. (I hope this link never goes bad, because I enjoy it every time I look at it.)

Similarly, today's Roanoke Times has this account of the people who sing the National Anthem at the Salem Avalanche baseball games and minor league sports events in the Roanoke area.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Tate concedes to Potts, rather than contest primary margin of 106 votes

As reported here in the Washington Post, challenger Mark Tate has conceded victory to incumbent Sen. Russell Potts in the Republican primary held on June 10. Potts came the closest to winning of the three noteworthy anti-tax challengers to Republican incumbent Senators. He concluded that a recount would not change the numbers enough to affect the outcome, where the margin in the official count was 106 votes.

More on the Virginia abortion case

The Virginian-Pilot has this report on the opposing views of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and the lawyer challenging the new Virginia statute regulating abortion, which has been enjoined preliminarily by Judge Richard Williams of the E.D. Va.

Available here is AG Kilgore's statement "Regarding Appeal of Infanticide Law Ruling."

Chesapeake jury no easy picking for Malvo

The Virginian-Pilot has this report on how picking a jury in Chesapeake will still be a challenge for the parties to the Malvo sniper trial, which could last for two months.

As reported here, the trial in Chesapeake is scheduled to start November 10.

Circuit Court Judge John Kilgore

The Kingsport Times-News has this report on the swearing-in of John Kilgore as the new judge for the 30th Judicial Circuit, which includes Lee, Scott, and Wise Counties in Virginia. Judge Kilgore, among other things, served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Glen Williams, who was unable to attend the event. Judge Birg Sergent explained the circumstances of Judge Williams' absence, and waved a bundle of papers, stating that he had in written form the text of the hour-long speech Judge Williams would have given had he been there.

In Senator Wampler's remarks yesterday, he noted that he missed the last swearing-in at the same courthouse, for J&DR District Court Judge James Mickey Shull, because of scheduling conflict, which led Judge Stump to interject from the bench, "We heard you were at the NASCAR race." Sen. Wampler replied, "A senator's duties are many."

John Ashcroft approves seeking death penalty against 72 year-old man in W.D. Va.

In the Charles Gilmore murder case, now pending in the U.S. District Court for the W.D. Va., the Attorney General of the United States has approved the prosecutors request to seek the death penalty against Gilmore, who is now age 72, for his role in the multiple killings that occurred 14 years ago in Tazewell County, Virginia. The Roanoke Times has this report.

Lawsuit against Roanoke newspaper for publishing bruised woman's photo dismissed

Reporting on itself, the Roanoke Times had this article on the dismissal by a state court judge of a lawsuit brought by a woman, of whom the Times published a picture showing her bruised face, allegedly without her permission, in connection with a cover story on domestic violence.

Rosary beads on mirror lead to years in penitentiary

The Roanoke Times had this story about a Latino woman driving a van on the interstate with out-of-state license plates, who was pulled over for having rosary beads dangling from her rear view mirror, and is now going to federal prison for 46 months because the police discovered 6 kilos of cocaine in the van.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Latest license plate flap in Tennessee - Sons of Confederate Veterans want to display rebel flag

The Tennesseean has this report on the plans of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to apply for a Tennessee license plate for their group, that would display the Confederate flag.

In Virginia, a panel of the Fourth Circuit upheld the license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in this opinion, and then the petition for rehearing was denied, with several members of the court writing concurring or dissenting opinions, as shown here.

More on Judge Lee's pop-up ad ruling

This article contains further discussion of the decision by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the E.D. Va. in the U-Haul pop-up ad case.

Maryland statute limiting HMO's subrogation rights preempted by ERISA

In Singh v. Prudential Health Care Plan, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in a published opinion by Judge Niemeyer joined by Judges Michael and King held that plaintiff's state law claim regarding the subrogation rights of a health maintenance organization was preempted by ERISA, and remanded the case for consideration those claims under ERISA.

Injunction against relitigation by disgruntled class member upheld

In Scardelleti v. Rinckwitz, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam decision for the panel of Judges Williams, Michael, and Shedd affirmed the district court's order enjoining a disgruntled class member under the All Writs Act from trying to relitigate in other courts the same issues that were resolved in a court-approved class action settlement in the District of Maryland.

What to do when you think the U.S. government is holding out on your FOIA request

In Heily v. U.S. Department of Commerce, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam decision for the panel of Judges Widener and Niemeyer and Senior Judge Hamilton held that the the appellant had shown no basis to look beyond the affidavits and privilege logs submitted by the Department of Commerce in describing the documents not produced that were responsive to the appellant's FOIA request.

Judge Jones overrules disability determination in ERISA case

In Davidson v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., Judge Jones ruled that the ERISA plan administrator's determination regarding the plaintiff's disability was unsupportable and therefore ordered the administrator to provide him with long-term disability benefits. The defendant argued that there were jobs available within the physical capacity of the plaintiff, while the plaintiff argued that a determination of what jobs were available should take into account the plaintiff's advanced age. The court concluded that the "failure to analyze whether Davidson’s age might be a barrier to his entry into another occupation precludes any finding that Liberty Life engaged in a principled reasoning process."

Virginia attorney general appeals preliminary injunction in abortion case

As reported here and here, Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore will appeal to the Fourth Circuit the decision by Judge Richard Williams of the E.D. Va. to enjoin preliminarily the enforcement of the new Virginia abortion statute.

Also, the Attorney General received some criticism for hiring special outside counsel to represent the Commonwealth in the case, as reported here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Judge Roush's opinion and order on the transfer of venue in the Malvo case

Findlaw has the letter opinion and order from Judge Roush in deciding to transfer the Malvo case to Chesapeake.

Ah, old Uncle Publius

How could I resist a blog called Publius Minor?

Thomas Jefferson and football

Seth the Larval Lawyer makes the point here, and I agree, that those old Wahoos who were opposed to allowing Virginia Tech into the Atlantic Coast Conference seem to believe that "Mr. Jefferson actually invented the ACC," part of the same mentality that opposed the renaming of Clinch Valley College to the University of Virginia College at Wise. Maybe such thinkers should insist that Virginia must withdraw in protest from the ACC, now that Virginia Tech's membership is secure, or at least make a motion to kick out those other interlopers, Ga. Tech and Florida State (and now Miami).

Just so we're clear on this - the only ones who are cheapening the University are the legislators. They maybe entirely or partly justified in doing so, or not at all, but that is the whole story. It is no surprise that athletic programs look for ways to maximize profits when there is no prospect of outside money coming from the government. At the judicial conference, Dean Gene Nichol, commenting on the different routes taken by the U.Va. and UNC law schools on public funding, said that "if Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he'd be a Tarheel."

That one donation could have spoiled the whole thing

In Carefree of Maryland, Inc. v. Carefree Pregnancy Centers, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in a published opinion by Judge King joined by Chief Judge Wilkins and Judge Motz answered "no" to the question of "whether an Illinois organization subjected itself to personal jurisdiction in Maryland by operating an Internet website that allegedly infringed the trademark rights of a Maryland insurance company," where 0.0174% of the Illinois company's donations came from Maryland, and "[a]part from a single online donation made by the lawyer for Carefirst in this proceeding, there is no evidence that the Maryland donations were made through the website."

Fourth Circuit upholds NLRB's alter-ego analysis in electric workers case

In NLRB v. Kodiak Electric Co., Inc., the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Traxler and Shedd and Senior Judge Hamilton granted the NLRB's petition for enforcement where a unionized electrical contractor was not too subtle in establishing and sending work to a non-union company in his wife's name.

My favorite part of the facts is this paragraph:

"In March of 1999, Timothy Demski and a Porter project manager, Peter Robey, discussed manpower problems on the Kodiak Line projects. Demski asked Robey to 'write the dirtiest, nastiest letter that [Porter] could' to terminate the contract with Kodiak Electric. J.A. 39. He also told Robey that Kodiak Electric had a "sister company" that did not have the same manpower constraints and could easily absorb the workload that Kodiak Electric had proved unable to handle. J.A. 39. On March 17, Robey sent a letter to Kodiak Electric terminating its contract for the work at the Rockview project. That same day, Porter contracted with Kodiak Line to complete the remainder of the electrical work at a price that reflected the balance of the original contract with Kodiak Electric."

The record does not say how dirty or nasty was the letter written by the project manager at the union contractor's request.

Judge Wilson rules in Walton death penalty case

Death row inmate Percy Walton, who was scheduled to be executed in May but was able to obtain a stay with claims that he is mentally retarded or incompetent, will get a full evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether he is competent but not on the issue of mental retardation, according to the opinion issued today by Judge Samuel Wilson of the W.D. Va. Judge Wilson found specifically that Walton is not mentally retarded. On the competency issue, Judge Wilson noted that Walton's lawyers were claiming that he "suffers from a 'psychotic illness' that has deteriorated significantly since 1999."

On the retardation issue, Judge Wilson focused on test results from around the time when Walton was age 18. This suggests to me that special education records will become a major focus point in death penalty litigation - the public schools have records of the IQs of all the children in special education, and retest them every three or four years, until they are 18 or 19 and stop going to school.

More on the injunction against the new Virginia abortion law

This article in today's Virginian-Pilot points out how Judge Richard Williams questioned the lawyers for the Commonwealth about the statements of Governor Warner in opposition to the new law, asking, "he speaks for the people, doesn't he?"

Chesapeake wants no Malvo, but Judge Roush moves case there

The AP reports here that Judge Roush of the Fairfax County Circuit Court has transferred the venue for the John Malvo sniper trial to the City of Chesapeake.

Earlier, I saw, via Virginia Lawyers' Weekly, that the Virginian-Pilot was reporting here that the City of Chesapeake has notified Judge Roush that it does not want the Malvo trial transferred to that fair city.

I never heard of something like that before - maybe the federal prosecutors should have solicited similar letters from every other jurisdiction in the state.

Is Tim Sandefur speaking my mind on sex laws in Virginia?

Tim Sandefur asks here the question "does Lawrence mean that the laws banning dancing, which I hear are still on the books of some quaint Virginia towns—are unconstitutional?" and provides my answer, although I might not have said, "yes, thank God!"

Recalling the old Roy Clark song, "Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone," I think the Lawrence case involved something other than divine intervention. (Hey, I didn't watch 20 years of Hee Haw for nothing.)

Defective police dog suit in Southwest Virginia

The Town of Pound in Wise County is suing a police dog service for selling it a dog that doesn't know enough about how to be a police dog, and because a Pound police officer was given farm work instead of training time with the dog, as reported here.

John Kilgore to be sworn in as new Circuit Court judge for 30th Circuit

Tomorrow, John Kilgore will be sworn in as Circuit Court judge for Scott County, as reported here. John Kilgore is a young man (meaning younger than I) and has served most of his legal career as the Scott County Commonwealth's Attorney, after clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Glen Williams, who is scheduled to administer the oath to Judge Kilgore. Judge Kilgore is replacing Judge Ford Quillen, who served one term on the court after many years of distinguished service in the legislature.

More on shareholder litigation against Bristol's own King Pharmaceuticals

One of the reasons why I keep up with The 10b-5 Daily is because of the pending cases in federal (and state) court against King Pharmaceuticals. According to this story, there are now 25 pending cases against King in the E.D. Tenn.

The Kingsport paper reports here that new Judge Greer will recuse himself from hearing the King cases.

I haven't tried to unravel the allegations, but I watch these cases because the people who work for this company are among the best people I know, and I would be dumbfounded if the cases have any merit, and I wonder how many other securities fraud cases are like these. I hope the King cases go the way of this Merrill Lynch case, dismissed for failure to state a claim.

BVU cable starts providing service

After two lawsuits, two new laws, and lots of time and effort, Bristol Virginia Utilities is now providing cable television service along with high-speed Internet and telephone service, and the Bristol paper has this story on the first connected cable customer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The hazards to employers of employees driving while talking on the phone

This article from Consumer Reports notes that:

"Later this year, Yoon vs. Wagner, a $30 million lawsuit, is scheduled for trial in Virginia. An attorney is being sued for killing a 15-year-old girl while driving and allegedly conducting business on her cell phone. The litigation has prompted many businesses nationwide to prohibit cell phone use by their employees while driving, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group."

More on the Yoon v. Wagner case, said to be pending in Loudoun County Circuit Court, can be found here, here, here, and here.

Venue decision in Malvo case to be made public on Wednesday?

According to this report, a judge for the Circuit Court of Fairfax County will issue a ruling on Wednesday on the motion of accused sniper John Malvo for a change of venue.

I suspect that the judge just might move the case from Northern Virginia, one less thing for an appeal, and there is something to the notion that the fear of the snipers probably affected almost everyone living in the D.C. area. Geez, I think they closed schools in Richmond when there was some rumor that the sniper had come that far down I-95.

At the Fourth Circuit judicial conference, oddly enough, one of the speakers was Sonny Seiler, the real-life lawyer and sometime actor who represented Jim Williams in the long-running murder case that was the subject of the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Williams was tried four times and won a defense verdict only after a new trial judge moved the case from Savannah to the other side of the state in Augusta. Notwithstanding Mr. Seiler's entertaining account of how the case was won using a cat and a nurse, the change of venue seems to have been a major factor in the final outcome. In the Malvo case, not just the society people, but everyone was affected by the shootings.

More on preliminary injunction in Virginia abortion case

The Washington Post has this story on the preliminary injunction hearing before Judge Williams, in which he enjoined enforcement of the new Virginia abortion statute pending the determination of the merits of the constitutional challenge to the law.

Governor Warner postpones execution of Bobby Wayne Swisher

The AP has this report on the action by Virginia Governor Mark Warner to post the execution of death row inmate Bobby Wayne Swisher, who was scheduled to die tonight, but now has an extra three weeks to try to make some progress with his argument that the jury in his case was improperly instructed.

E.D. Va. rules pop-up ads do not violate intellectual property rights

As reported here (on pages 2-3) and here (registration required), Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the E.D. Va. has ruled that pop-up ads do not violate the copyright or trademark rights on the owners of the websites on which they appear, in a case brought by U-Haul against

UPDATE - CNet has more here on Judge Lee's decision in the U-Haul pop-up ad case.

E.D. Va. judge enjoins new Virginia abortion statute, amid procedural maneuvers

Judge Richard Williams of the E.D. Va. entered a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the new Virginia abortion statute, on the same day it took effect, according to this AP report, which is worth considering at some length.

The story says that the lawyers from the Attorney General's office filed a motion to have the case reassigned, after it went to Judge Robert Payne because plaintiffs had indicated that he presided over a similar case. On reassignment, the case went to Judge Williams, who was not convinced that the Commonwealth needed the amount of time requested to prepare for trial. The article quoted Judge Williams as saying ""I don't know why you need 120 days for a no-brain case such as this," but he proceeded to set the hearing date for November 4.

One vulnerability of the new law, as pointed out in the article, is that it "does not include an exception to protect the mother's health," which may be a requirement under case law from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The article notes that one of the lawyers arguing for the Commonwealth as a "special assistant attorney general" was Ed McNelis, who was in my class at law school, where he headed up a band called the Wailing Cats.

Former East Tennessean pleads guilty to using spam to defraud by offering bogus investments

The Kingsport Times-News has this story on a former Johnson City man who sent out 9 million spam e-mails touting high-yield securities and managed to defraud those who responded of more than $100,000. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in October.

SW VA towns plan Virginia Heritage Music Trail

This article in the Kingsport Times-News reports on the plans of Southwest Virginia towns to create a "Virginia Heritage Music Trail," to capitalize on tourism related to the musical roots of Southwest Virginia.

No coverage by estoppel under ERISA or COBRA

In Weeks v. Western Auto Supply Co., Inc., Judge Wilson granted the employer's motion for summary judgment, concluding that even though the plaintiff's decedent was sick and not reading his mail, and plaintiff's wife claimed she was misled about the termination of the husband's health insurance, the employer had given proper notice of the employee's rights and the employee had no health insurance.

Student loan company drops suit over defendant's website critical of the company

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this report on the voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit between "Sallie Mae" the student loan company and a Virginia man over his website which contained statements highly critical of SLM Corp. The man is also suing SLM in connection with his student loan for tuition to a computer school that went out of business.

Virginia State Bar suspends license of Roanoke lawyer

The Roanoke Times reports here that the Virginia State Bar has suspended the license of a Roanoke lawyer because "failed to communicate with his clients, often neglecting to file court papers at their request and sometimes keeping payment for services he provided late or not at all," and, among other things, kept practicing after he was suspended and lied to a judge about his status with the bar.

Virginia Republicans to boycott business ratings?

This article in the Danville paper highlights the odd points of the conflict between Virginia's Republican legislators and the Virginia FREE group, which purports to rate legislators on how friendly they are to business.

The problem is that their disagreements on matters that may or may not have much to do with business led to lower than expected ratings for some Virginia Republicans, much to their embarrassment, since they think of themselves as the party for business.

Tobacco production reduced to 1874 levels

The Bristol paper claims here that the tobacco quotas set by the federal government have been reduced to levels not seen since U.S. Grant was president of the United States.

Videoconferencing and the criminal justice system

This article describes the various applications of the Delaware court system's video conferencing technology, including the impact of broadband connections.

The location of large state and federal prisons, and now regional jails, in Southwest Virginia suggests the prospect for similar uses here - not only for court appearances, but also for conferences between attorney and client.

Legal Times reports on smooth sailing for Fourth Circuit nominee Allyson Duncan

Legal Times has this report on the easy path to confirmation for North Carolina attorney Allyson Duncan, who has been nominated by President Bush to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Big East's big damages theory

According to this AP report, "Less than an hour after Miami officially accepted an invitation to join the ACC, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Big East schools would seek to recover not only losses in ticket sales and broadcasting fees, but also the cash value of diminished recruiting power and scarred relationships with donors."

That sounds to me like a bunch of nonsense. I'd guess that some federal judges might throw out as unproven and unreliable any expert testimony purporting to calculate those damages - but maybe Daubert is not the law in Connecticut. The damages are not going to be measurable in any real sense for years to come, unless the BCS or some television network pulls the plug on the Big East, and if that happens, the BCS ought to be the defendant, not the ACC.

Update - looking again at the Complaint, always a good idea, it appears that Counts 1-4 are only against Miami (now that BC is out), and the other remaining defendant is the Atlantic Coast Conference itself, not any state agencies. The Complaint does not say what kind of an entity the ACC is, whether it exists separately from its members, so I don't know whether the plaintiffs' claims present any immunity issues, which takes me back to wondering whether the case should be removed to federal court.

Mental health services agency challenges release of state agency investigative report

According to this report from the AP, a mental health services agency in Danville is claiming that it would be irreparably harmed by the release of an investigative report compiled by the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy.

Interestingly, the article notes that the case is now pending in the U.S. District Court for the W.D. Va. in Danville, having been removed from Danville Circuit Court. I guess there are federal constitutional claims on which federal jurisdiction could be based. But why would the Commonwealth remove the case to federal court? I thought the usual tactic was to seek a transfer to the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond.

Also, the article notes that the VOPA has refused to produce the document pursuant to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which makes me wonder why the Danville agency thinks that public disclosure is about to happen.

One issue I would suspect will be raised is whether a city agency has any authority to sue the Commonwealth. That was a topic a couple of years ago in the Bristol fiber case, and Judge Jones concluded in this opinion that the city could raise Supremacy clause issues against the state. Specifically, Judge Jones wrote: "In support of their motion to dismiss, Attorney General Earley and the Commonwealth contend that the City lacks standing to bring suit under federal and state law. It is true that some courts have held that political subdivisions of a state, such as cities, lack standing to challenge a state statute on constitutional grounds. See, e.g., Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth. v. City of Burbank, 136 F.3d 1360, 1363 (9th Cir. 1998). The theory behind such a rule is that a state’s political subdivisions are “so thoroughly controlled by the body they are suing that the litigation amounts to a suit by the state against itself, [therefore lacking] live adversariness . . . .” Rogers v. Brockette, 588 F.2d 1057, 1065 (5th Cir. 1979). However, the majority of courts have rejected this rule, particularly in Supremacy Clause challenges. See, e.g., Branson School Dist. RE-82 v. Romer, 161 F.3d 619, 628 (10th Cir. 1998) (“[W]e conclude that a political subdivision has standing to bring a constitutional claim against its creating state when the substance of its claim relies on the Supremacy Clause and a putatively controlling federal law.”). Where a political subdivision is “legally and practically independent” from the state, the suit presents a genuine adversary contest. Rogers, 588 F.2d at 1065. Moreover, without deciding the issue, the Fourth Circuit has expressed doubts as to the validity of any such rule banning suits by cities against states. See City of Charleston v. Public Serv. Comm’n of W. Va., 57 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 1995). By virtue of Virginia’s broad grant of powers to localities, discussed below, I find that the City is sufficiently independent from state government to assert a Supremacy Clause challenge against it."

Another challenge to mountaintop mining in the works

This AP story reports that environmentalists are challenging the issues of a mining permit in Mingo County, West Virginia through the state courts of West Virginia, on the somewhat remarkable theory, perhaps, that the West Virginia courts will be friendlier to their arguments than has been the Fourth Circuit.

Rush Limbaugh cites Virginia sodomy law

The all-knowing, all-seeing Maja-Rushie notes in this post to his website that "when the Constitution was ratified, the 13 original states had anti-sodomy laws. In Virginia, sodomy was punishable by death at the time of the founding."

I have no idea whether this is true, but Rush never lets the facts get in the way of a good story, or even a bad one. This source suggests the history is somewhat different, as it argues that colonial Virginia "apparently did not recognize sodomy as a crime except for less than a decade, and then as a military regulation," and submits that Virginia adopted its first sodomy law in 1792 (which did make sodomy a felony, punishable by death like other felonies).

Tim Sandefur has more here on Thomas Jefferson's attempt in the 1770s to reduce the punishment in Virginia for sodomy from death to castration.

On Virginia's new abortion law

The Washington Post has this article on Virginia's new "infanticide" statute, which attempts to regulate partial-birth abortion, and which goes into effect with most other new Virginia laws on Tuesday.

The new statute is already the subject of a federal lawsuit, on which Attorney General Kilgore had this statement.

Fourth Circuit remands salting case for more reasoning (or seasoning) from NLRB

In NLRB v. Forsyth Electrical Co., Inc., the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam decision for Judges Widener and Luttig remanded the case to give the NLRB a chance to elaborate further on the reasoning underlying its decision that the employer had unlawfully discriminated against three union "salts" by failure to reinstate them despite their unconditional offer to come back to work. Judge Niemeyer in dissent noted briefly his view that the proper disposition of the case was simply to deny the NLRB's petition for enforcement and put an end to the case without further proceedings.

More on Swisher

Today's Richmond Times-Dispatch has two articles on the pending execution of Bobby Wayne Swisher, this one on the plans of the victim's mother to watch him die, and this one on his lawyers' efforts to get him resentenced.

Hurricanes accept offer to join ACC

The Daily Press has this report which says that the University of Miami has agreed to accept the offer to join the ACC and leave the Big East.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Attorney general and defense lawyers disagree on effect of a governor's pardon

As reported here by the AP, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore disagrees with lawyers for death row inmate Bobby Wayne Swisher on the issue of whether Governor Warner could issue a pardon of Swisher in such a way that he could be reindicted and retried.

The article notes that "[t]he deans of two Virginia law schools and 19 Virginia legislators have urged Warner to stop the scheduled execution."

More on sodomy in Virginia

The Washington Post has this article on the reaction of activists and legislators in Virginia to the Supreme Court's decision in the Lawrence case, striking down the sodomy law in Texas.

The article includes some predictably provocative quotes attributed to Delegate Robert Marshall:

"'The apocalypse for society is contained in this decision," Marshall said. He called the ruling 'cultural suicide' and said the justices involved wear the 'black robes of death.'
'The most fundamental unit of society is the family -- husband, wife, children -- and when you attempt to parody that and make some new structure or some alternate structure, you cannot contain it; you have to have gay recognition,' Marshall said.
Nevertheless, Marshall pledged to fight that outcome by opposing any furthering of gay rights in Virginia."

On coalbed methane royalties in Virginia

The Roanoke Times has this story on the coalbed methane case out of Buchanan County, in which Judge Keary Williams ruled, in essence, that the title to the methane did not pass with the title to the coal when coal mining rights were conveyed, and therefore the property owners and not the coal companies were entitled to the proceeds from the sale of the methane that was in the coal. The case is now on appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court - the questions presented are shown here.

Since the judge's ruling, the lawyers who represented the property owners have placed notices in the Buchanan County newspaper, seeking out additional property owners who may have coalbed methane rights.

The issue is an important one, I suppose, because it affects not only millions of dollars as royalties for the gas already produced, but also the economics of future production of coalbed methane.

The funniest thing I heard at the judicial conference

The program on Friday morning at the Fourth Circuit judicial conference included a panel of law school deans: Deans Taylor Reveley of William & Mary, Gene Nichol of North Carolina, Kurt Schmoke of Howard, Mark Grady of George Mason, and Karen Rothenberg of Maryland.

One of the bolder ideas advanced in the discussion was a suggestion by Dean Schmoke that maybe law school should be a two-year program, with the third year something like working for pay. A woman in the audience suggested that in medical school, the student-residents are treated like slaves. Dean Schmoke, a distinguished African-American who served for many years as mayor of the City of Baltimore and now leads the law school of the university created after the Civil War to serve freedmen, replied, "Now, don't go telling people that the Dean of the Howard Law School is proposing slavery."

Del. Howell to ACC & Big East - a pox on all their houses

This article in the Raleigh newspaper notes the disgust of some government and university officials over the ACC expansion mess, and offers this quote from William Howell, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, who said it shows "how corrupt and greedy college football has become. I say, 'a pox on all their houses.' I'm going to go watch high school football."

Sabato says Edwards vulnerable for ties to trial lawyers

This Bloomberg news article on Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards' failure to participate in the debate over asbestos litigation reform includes the following from U.Va. government professor Larry Sabato:

"Edwards 'is very, very vulnerable to a charge of being in hock to a powerful and wealthy group of individuals, the trial lawyers,' said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. The senator can't 'work against their interests, given the money they have given him' and if he 'works for them, then he opens himself up to even more criticism,' Sabato said."

Two from Fourth Circuit on White House short list for Supreme Court

Here is another story that says Judges Luttig and Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit are on the short list of candidates to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, if and when there are any vacancies.

Barbecue - ambrosia in Bluff City

When I was in college, my roommate was from Kansas City, and after listening to his talk of barbecue for years, I went out there and ate at Arthur Bryant's and Gates. We also ate a place called Stroud's, a great place, which displayed a map of the "best food in America." The best barbecue, according to that map, was in Bluff City, Tennessee, at the Ridgewood, the subject of this column from the Kingsport Times-News.

Even my man Sam from Kansas City concedes that the Ridgewood is good. Maybe I ought to go there next week and buy a jar of sauce to send to him in London, where he has been in barbecue exile these past several years.

Lately, though, my favorite BBQ place has been PQ's on the Midlothian Turnpike, I eat there every time I go to Richmond, which seems to be more often than I get down to Bluff City.

On the new Virginia laws protecting against identity theft

The Bristol Herald-Courier has this report on the laws taking effect in Virginia July 1 which protect against identity theft, and other laws regarding security and privacy.

Attorney General Jerry Kilgore had this press release from June 27 regarding the same public safety statutes, titled "Jerry Kilgore’s Agenda Set to Become Law."