TWO QUICK APPELLATE NOTES
(Posted April 4, 2023) I have time for brief updates on a couple of matters here.
April SCV session announced
The Supreme Court of Virginia has released the argument docket for the April session, which will convene in two weeks. There are just three cases on it – two from writs granted from the October writ panels, and one attorney-discipline case. (Disciplinary appeals are of-right, so there’s no need for a writ grant.) The justices will gather on Thursday, April 20, to hear 90 minutes’ worth of oral arguments before calling it a month.
Now, lest you perceive that that’s a dig at the court, please think again. Justice-ing emphatically isn’t a part-time job, and it isn’t the court’s fault that most of its potential docket for this session got diverted to the Court of Appeals last year. I expect – I hope – that the level of business at Ninth and Franklin will return to near-normality later this year, or possibly early in 2024.
There’s a latent fear there: If the justices decide to cut back on writ grants, figuring that the CAV is handling error-correction, so the Supreme Court can limit itself to law development, then we might see perennially suppressed dockets – maybe not this small, but single digits per session. Nothing to do on that but wait and watch.
1Q David-Goliath Index
The first three months of 2023 are in the books, so let’s check to see how our big guys and little guys are doing thus far. The Supreme Court has released seven opinions this year, and five of those fit the criteria for my David/Goliath analysis. Of those five, I have our Davids winning twice and the Goliaths three times, for a first-quarter D/GI of 40-60.
You might think that this is looking to be a banner year for David; his success rate in recent years has been on the order of 28%, so 40% looks great by comparison. But I know enough about statistics to realize that you can’t draw any meaningful conclusions from a sample size of just five.
What about unpubs? I do include those in my calculations because they’re part of the caseload that the court decides. But all I can do is shrug this time, because the court has released no unpubs, none at all, since early December.