UPDATE ON APPELLATE DEVELOPMENTS
(Posted July 28, 2022) We see no new published rulings today from the SCV, so let’s take one of our periodic looks around the appellate milieu.
ABA Appellate Summit
Registration is open for the 2022 Appellate Judges Education Institute, better known to the appellate crowd as the ABA Appellate Summit. This year’s gathering will be in Scottsdale, Arizona, and will convene November 10-13. This is the best nationwide assembly of appellate judges and advocates; the level of CLE programming is always quite high. If you go, you will see me there.
Virginia Appellate Advocacy Academy
Speaking of legal education, the good folks at Virginia CLE will present a two-day program of intensive, one-on-one teaching just for appeals. The program is next Thursday and Friday in Charlottesville. It’s hopelessly late to register now, as the program, which maxes out at 24 participants, filled very quickly. If you’re interested in participating in a future academy, let Virginia CLE know, so they can judge demand and plan accordingly.
SCV posts September argument docket
The docket for the September session at the Supreme Court of Virginia is available. There are just seven appeals; the court will hear arguments over two days, September 14-15.
I’ll pause to note two things about this news. First, this is the earliest I can recall seeing a docket and schedule. I’m accustomed to seeing it perhaps three weeks before the session week; the courts website promises that it’ll appear “approximately two weeks before each session.” This docket arrived seven weeks in advance.
Second, these seven cases, added to the previous dockets this year, aggregate to 47 appellate arguments in 2022. This projects to somewhere around 55 for the year. (My best guess, based on the writs-granted page, is that seven more will be ready for argument in the November session, though the clerk may manage to squeeze in a couple more.) If you’re a long-time reader, I don’t have to tell you that that’s the lowest we’ve ever seen in a year, at least in our lifetimes.
This, of course, translates to a tiny number of published opinions. Of the previous 40 argued this year, the court has decided 18 by published rulings and eight by unpubs, and at least one has settled. (The other 13 haven’t come down yet.) This means that if you’re one of those folks, like me, who deliver CLE retrospectives on the year’s SCV decisions, you won’t have a lot of raw material next year.
VBA Summer Meeting programs
One such review came last Saturday, in the Virginia Bar Association’s gathering in Hot Springs. Two learned judges, Dan Ortiz of the Court of Appeals and Everett Martin of the Norfolk Circuit Court, reprised their annual presentation on SCV decisions over the past year. The VBA’s Appellate Practice Section was one of the co-sponsors.
The APS also co-sponsored another recurring program, a review of the Roberts Court’s October Term 2021. While the SCV’s yearly cases may have been relatively peaceful, the SCOTUS term was aflame, as you no doubt know. My pal Bill Hurd, now of Eckert Seamans, again capably moderated a discussion by three panelists, including the relatively new Solicitor General of the Commonwealth, Andrew Ferguson.
The meeting’s closing session was a thunder-and-lightning presentation on the January 6 insurrection and its aftermath. Those panelists included former Fourth Circuit Judge Mike Luttig, Jamie Raskin of the House of Representatives, former US Attorney Tim Heaphy, and journalist Betsy Woodruff Swan. Senior Justice Bill Mims was gracious and graceful as usual in moderating an edge-of-your-seat program over the course of 90 minutes. C-SPAN recorded the segment and broadcast it later that day; I don’t know if the network will re-air it, but I heartily recommend it if you can find it.
Not quite yet …
I’ve been keeping an eye on the docket postings for the Court of Appeals of Virginia, to see when the stream of new civil appeals will begin to appear. The latest docket that’s now on the court’s website is August 23, and I don’t see any civil cases (other than domestic relations and Workers’ Comp, which have been in the CAV’s bailiwick all along). My best guess is that we’ll see some in September; I’m confident that they’ll arrive in force in October.
This leads to the question of the court’s workload, with all civil appeals heading there now before a possible discretionary appeal to the Supreme Court. I’ll want to see the 2023 stats, which won’t arrive until early in 2024, to assess the effect of a year’s worth of civil cases. I know better than to start guessing now.