APPELLATE NOTES OF THE WEEK[Posted April 9, 2010] There were no published opinions out of the Court of Appeals this week – maybe those guys are running out of fresh material? – so here’s a recap on some of the more important news items of the past few days.
Let’s start with judicial turnover in the appellate courts. Justice Mims started work in the Supreme Court of Virginia last Thursday, April 1, and his formal investiture was held today. It was no doubt set for today because the April session will begin on Monday, and the justices will obviously be in Richmond for that. The court’s 100th justice (well, over time; not all at once) will participate in merits arguments next week, so if you’re on the argument docket and you see an unfamiliar face all the way off to your right, that’s him.
On the national scene, we got the wholly unsurprising word today that Justice Stevens will retire from the US Supreme Court at the end of the current term. The Ford appointee has served for 35 years, and will turn 90 in a week and a half. His retirement letter to the president cited his desire that a successor be confirmed “well in advance” of the beginning of the October 2010 term.
The ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers has announced that it will again offer its renowned Appellate Practice Institute May 20-22, 2011, again at the Northwestern University School of Law in Evanston, Illinois. This is the best appellate-training program in the United States, so if you’ve never been, mark your calendars now. If you can’t wait that long for some appellate-lawyer bonding, the ABA’s 2010 Appellate Summit will be held in Dallas this year, November 18-21. Future summits will be held in Washington, DC (2011) and New Orleans (2012).
A peek at the April Supreme Court argument docket reveals that one clear recent trend is receding – at least for this session. There are just six criminal cases on the docket, out of 28 cases in all. That’s still more than was usual several years ago, before the court started granting far more criminal writs (thus pushing the civil appeals back on the argument docket). We’ll see in the June session whether this about-face will last; or whether we will again see an avalanche of criminal appeals burying the civil cases.