(Posted December 15, 2022) This part of today’s post isn’t remotely appellate, but it matters to me. I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion.

Today marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of my stepfather, Johnnie Beachem. He married my widowed mother when I was five, and from then on, he was Dad. If I’ve achieved Southern gentlemanhood, it’s because of him. He died not quite fifteen years ago, with my prodigious debt to him still unpaid.

Today brings no new rulings from the Supreme Court of Virginia, so let’s scan the landscape for developments.


Where have all the writs gone?

Each year, the SCV calendars six of what I’ll call writ sessions, where panels of justices hear oral argument in support of petitions for appeal. These generally fall on Tuesdays, and come around either two or three weeks before a full session of the court.

On a separate page, the court lists the cases where it has awarded appeals; each such listing contains the wording of the granted assignments of error, so courtwatchers can get an idea of what questions the court will be answering in the reasonably near future. I checked that appeals-granted page this morning, and was surprised to note that only one appeal listed there postdates the October 18 panels.

Normally I would expect to see writs pop up on the granted page within two to three weeks, possibly four, after the panel date. The October panels are now eight-plus weeks in the rear-view mirror. This means one of two things: Either the Clerk’s Office is backed up and will get to the October grants shortly, or else (ulp!) The Robes said “No dice” to all but one petitioner that month. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The last writ session of the year was last week, so writs from that date should start appearing on the website soon.


Courts’ holiday closings

The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Virginia will both close their clerk’s offices at noon next Thursday, December 22, and will remain closed through an extended holiday weekend. They’ll reopen Tuesday, December 27. The following week, they’ll be closed Monday, January 2 to mark the New Year’s holiday.

I don’t have any word yet from the Fourth Circuit. Historically, that court has been less indulgent of its employees, usually closing only for one day per holiday. I’m guessing that they’ll be shuttered December 26 and January 2, and open during normal business hours during each weekday other than those. When I get definitive word on that, I’ll post an update here. Update Dec. 19: The Fourth Circuit will be closed Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 for the Christmas holiday. A week later, it’ll be closed on Monday, January 2.


SCOTUS giveth and taketh away

I’ve seen the news on SCOTUSblog that Those Other Robes will resume the time-honored but Covid-interrupted practice of handing down opinions live in open court. Since the pandemic began, opinions have arrived online only, issued at maddening ten-minute intervals when we got more than one in a given day. That practice will end.

Perhaps you’re salivating at the prospect of listening to these releases whenever the Court gets around to deciding appeals argued during OT22. Get used to disappointment. While the Court gratifyingly will continue to live-stream oral arguments, it has decided for some reason not to livestream opinion announcements. You can hear them if you wish; you just have to wait until the beginning of the following term, in the next October.