FOUR QUICK APPELLATE UPDATES
(Posted February 28, 2023) The justices at Ninth and Franklin have declined to give us courtwatchers any new fodder for water-cooler gossip for a while, so let’s peek around and see what’s happening.
New Fourth Circuit judge
Last week the Senate confirmed Judge DeAndrea Gist Benjamin of South Carolina to a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Benjamin comes to the court from a Palmetto State trial court. She replaces Judge Floyd, who has taken senior status.
One more 2022 writ
The Supreme Court of Virginia’s website today announces the grant of one more appeal from last autumn’s writ panels. This one’s from the October panels. That brings the total number of writs granted from that month to two, with only three more granted from the December panels.
Early this month, I noted the paucity of late-2022 writs, and forecast a February/March session docket of eight appeals. Unlike some of my other brilliant predictions, I managed to get this one right; the Supreme Court convened this morning to hear arguments in four granted cases, and will hear four more tomorrow.
But I fear for the April session. The newly listed grant comes in a case where the appellee – in this instance, the Commonwealth, as it’s a criminal appeal – filed its merits brief just 2½ weeks ago, and the reply brief isn’t in the Clerk’s hands yet. That appeal might be ready for the April docket, but it might drop back to June. If it does fall back on the court’s calendar, the justices will have to decide whether to convene in April to hear a single appeal.
Virginia Appellate Summit date
Save the date, folks; the next Virginia Appellate Summit will convene in Richmond on Thursday, September 28. Current plans call for six hours of advanced MCLE training, plus a social hour after the program wraps up. If you’ve attended one or more of these gatherings, you’ll save the date immediately; if you haven’t, you need to be sure to attend. This is the best statewide assembly of the appellate bench and bar in the Commonwealth.
Even more appellate statistics
My long-time readers know about my interest in statistics about the appellate courts, and in what those stats can teach us. In the past, with the considerable help of the good folks in the State Law Library, I’ve amassed numbers going back to 1965. During a recent visit to Richmond, I stopped at the Library of Virginia – a wonderful institution that just celebrated its 200th “birthday” – and dug a little deeper.
Thanks to a librarian there who didn’t stop at the first brick wall, I now have some stats going back to 1951. The early numbers are rudimentary; there’s nothing like the detail we see in modern statistical reports. But I now know significantly more than I did before about the Supreme Court of Virginia’s 20th Century caseload.
As I type this, the Clerks of the SCV and CAV are preparing their courts’ 2022 stats reports; I hope to have those within a few weeks, and will report here on what they show.