[Posted October 19, 2015] As usual, October is proving to be quite busy. I’ve been on the road quite a bit this month, sating attorneys’ autumn cravings for MCLE credits before the October 31 deadline. My father used to insist that attorneys were notorious procrastinators; I’m finding little to contradict his view.

But in the meantime, the appellate globe hasn’t stopped spinning. Here’s a quick look at what’s been happening lately.

Virginia Appellate Summit draws record crowd

The first Virginia Appellate Summit convened in 2008. Those of us who produced it expected attendance of perhaps two dozen, since there just weren’t a lot of appellate lawyers in the state. We were pleasantly surprised when almost 60 showed up. At the second one four years later, we topped 70 attendees.

This year’s summit, held at Troutman Sanders’s office in Richmond, exceeded even that figure, as about 85 attendees gathered for 6½ hours of MCLE credit. The Virginia Bar Association sponsored the program, and the chair of the VBA’s Appellate Practice Section, Frank Friedman, deserves plenty of credit for organizing a wonderful program that was very well-received. We heard from jurists on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Virginia; got insight from insiders on the three appellate courts in Richmond (including the Fourth Circuit); and learned from many of Virginia’s premier appellate advocates about briefwriting, oral advocacy, and even how to seek cert in Washington.

If you missed it, you’ll probably have to wait a while for the next one. But in the meantime, there’s probably still time to sign up for the ABA’s Appellate Summit – on which the Virginia summit is modeled – next month. Here’s a link to the web page for the program, which is absolutely terrific. I hope to see you there.


SCV rulings are trickling in   

You’ll recall my announcement last month, describing the end of formal opinion days in the Supreme Court. From now on, the court will release opinions whenever they’re ready (though normally on Thursdays). So far the court has issued three unpublished orders in cases argued in the September session. There are as yet no published opinions, but I expect some of them to start arriving in the near future.


Boyd Graves Conference addresses appellate procedure

Last Friday and Saturday, the Boyd Graves Conference met in Staunton to consider a batch of proposals for the improvement of our system of civil justice. One such proposal dealt with appeals. The conference voted to recommend the modernization of certain aspects of appellate procedure, starting with the language of appeal and supersedeas bonds. For example, the conference has recommended doing away with the Nineteenth Century introduction, “Know all men by these presents …” and other archaic phrasings, in favor of what you and I consider to be normal English.

The Boyd Graves proposal also clarifies that in setting an amount for a suspending bond, including judgment interest, the trial court should allow one year for resolution of the case in the appellate court. Finally, the conference approved a proposal to provide that challenges to the trial court’s bond decisions can be made by motion in the appellate court. Now, such challenges have to be included in regular appellate briefs (including a petition for appeal and brief in opposition).

These proposals will go to the General Assembly for consideration in the upcoming legislative session. If approved by both chambers and signed by the Governor, they would presumably take effect July 1, 2016.