NOTES AT THE YEAR’S HALFWAY MARK
(Posted June 30, 2022) For the third straight Thursday, we get no published rulings from the Supreme Court of Virginia, so let’s examine the appellate terrain as we close the year’s second quarter.
State appellate filings
SCV Clerk Muriel Pitney has opened 392 files as of this morning. The court might see 800 for the year, as I expect the pace to pick up, just a bit, in the last couple of months of 2022. That will be the smallest number in decades, by far. This is, of course, the handiwork of SB 1261, which detoured all appeals through the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Meanwhile, CAV Clerk John Vollino has opened 968 records so far. That’s a pace of almost 2,000 per year. Last year he opened just under 1,400, so this year’s pace would be an increase of a bit over 40% from last year. This is hardly the flood of business that some observers feared with the advent of an appeal of right in all cases. I spoke with John a few weeks ago, and he reports that his staff – which I’ve always found to be terrific – had adapted well to the new normal.
2Q David-Goliath Index
With no opinions (and probably no unpubs) today, the second quarter is in the books. That makes it time to check on the rulings from the Supreme Court in David-v.-Goliath settings. I count two wins for David and five for Goliath. For the year, David has 3 decisions in the win column and Goliath has 12. The D-GI thus stands at 20-80 at the year’s halfway point.
SCV argument docket clearance
For the year, the justices have entertained oral argument in 40 appeals. Don’t be fooled by the calendar; while we’re halfway through the year, the court has already concluded four of its six sessions. That means that you shouldn’t expect 80 arguments, or even 70, by the end of the November session.
From those, the court has cleared 26. Four of the undecided cases were argued three weeks ago in the June session, so it’s too early to expect rulings; they should start coming down in July. There are four left undecided from the April session, five from March, and one still pending from the January session.
SCOTUS concludes OT’21
This morning, the Supreme Court of the Unites States handed down its last decisions from appeals argued in October Term 2021. At noon today, Justice Breyer’s retirement takes effect, and Ketanji Brown Jackson will take the oath as an associate justice.
This has been an enormously consequential term, even in comparison with earlier ones. I sometimes post commentary at this time of year, and I’ll probably do so next week, after allowing time to digest some of my thoughts about it.
Last day on the job
Tomorrow, Judge Wes Russell of the Court of Appeals of Virginia becomes Justice Russell of the Supreme Court. His successor on the CAV, Judge Kimberley White, will be sworn in tomorrow, too. That will leave the CAV fully staffed with jurists, while Judge Thomas Mann will fill the SCV’s final vacancy on August 1.