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Supreme Court of Virginia: Odds on appeal?

The Supreme Court of Virginia releases its latest batch of opinions tomorrow.

If you have a case pending in the high court, some new numbers may help you figure out whether it will be thumbs up or thumbs down for your client.

In a case that has been argued, but not yet decided by order, the odds are good that the lower court judgment won’t hold up on appeal.

According to 2006 data, of the 116 cases decided last year by full opinion, nearly 60 percent reversed or remanded. On the flip side, the court affirmed the trial court judgment in about 40 percent of last year’s cases decided by opinion. The high court decided another 59 cases by order.

This latest set of numbers has good odds for appellants. Over the past five years, the reversal rate for cases decided by opinion has ranged from a low of about 43 percent in 2003 to about 56 percent in 2002.

Of course, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. There is always the merit of a particular case. Oh yes, and the skills of the advocate. But you have both of those things going for you, right?

If you’re not happy with the high court’s decision in your case, don’t count on getting a chance to change the court’s mind.

Last year, the Supreme Court granted only 17 of 383 petitions for rehearing.

The court released the new data today on its Web site.

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