YET ANOTHER PEEK AROUND THE LANDSCAPE
(Posted October 4, 2023) Tomorrow is Thursday, and thus might, just might, offer up one or more opinions from the Supreme Court of Virginia. Experience is an effective teacher, and it’s taught me not to get my hopes up; the font of appellate decisions at Ninth and Franklin has been dry for months now. But hope springs eternal. Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at a few other appellate developments.
3Q D-GI – such as it is
With the close of the year’s third quarter, it’s time to check on the balance of decisions in the Supreme Court, to see how our Davids and our Goliaths fared. Except, there were only two decisions announced last quarter. Only one of those meets our big-vs.-little criterion, so we have a skewed David-Goliath Index for the quarter of 100/0 (David prevailed in the one that came down.) For the year, we have seven wins for the little guys and ten for the giants, for a year-long D-GI of 41/59.
While David is still losing three out of every five appeals, that figure is far more positive than it has been in any of the past several years. As I warned in July when I analyzed the 2Q results, you really cannot read anything into this because the sample size is far too small.
Last Monday, October 2, was one of the saddest days on the calendar for me. That’s because the Ryder Cup – my favorite golf event and one of my top four sports events of all, along with World Series Game 1, the World Cup in soccer, and the Army-Navy football game – ended on Sunday, meaning that I have an interminable two-year wait for the next one. And the long wait will be a bitter one because the Euros crushed the American team last weekend.
But it’s not all bad; SCOTUS convened that same day, the First Monday in October, to begin the new Court term. The justices have, as of this writing, already heard oral argument in three appeals. If you don’t follow that Court, you should know that practitioners and courtwatchers up there have the same problem we have here in Virginia – a severe shortage of granted cases. In “normal” years, the justices hear two oral arguments per day, but we’re pretty much on a one-a-day diet for the first two sittings of the term.
New law librarian
For the second time this year, news of a pending retirement hit me unawares, and hence hard. This time, word came from the SCV that the State Law Librarian, Gail Warren, is stepping down after an astounding 41 years on the job. For those who don’t know her, Gail is a simply wonderful person who’s entrusted with the Commonwealth’s and the Supreme Court’s repository of legal treatises, appellate records, and other documents. I will miss stopping by on my forays into the library, housed on the second floor of the Supreme Court Building, when I usually playfully ask upon my arrival for the Complaint Department.
The new librarian as of November 1 will be Alexis Fetzer Sharp, who’s apparently coming over from the library at the University of Richmond’s law school. I don’t know her and can only hope that she’s somewhere near as pleasant and helpful as Gail has always been.
One last library matter: Gail isn’t the only head of a major downtown Richmond library who’s retiring. I’ve learned that Sandy Treadway, the Librarian of Virginia, is stepping down late this year, too. The last I heard, there was a search underway for her successor. Given my great love of libraries and books, the temptation is overwhelming to give up the world of appeals and throw my hat into that ring in a quixotic effort to snag the job. After all, I’ve worked in three law offices in my career, and have been the law librarian in all three. If only they’d overlook my complete lack of any training in library science … and the fact that I live here in Virginia Beach, 100 miles away from the job …