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Justice Cleo E. Powell

May 1, 2017

Judge evaluations expand to appellate bench

The Supreme Court of Virginia is test driving a new aspect of its Judicial Performance Evaluation program. Lawyers and circuit judges are being asked to evaluate appellate judges for the first time in a pilot project involving three jurists. The process will be similar to that used for measuring the performance of trial court judges. […]

Apr 25, 2017

Court Reorders Policy Priority for Auto Accident

In this contest over insurance coverage for a fatal automobile accident arising from a subcontractor employee’s permissive use of a vehicle belonging to the general contractor, the trial court erred in determining that a Nationwide CGL policy issued to the subcontractor provided liability coverage, notwithstanding the policy’s exclusion for claims arising out of the use […]

Apr 25, 2017

No ‘Refusal’ Charge for Private Road

A defendant found asleep in his car, which had its lights, engine and radio on and was irregularly parked in a space in the parking lot of a private apartment complex posted with “No Trespassing” signs, was not on a “highway” for purposes of Virginia’s implied consent law and cannot be prosecuted for refusal to […]

Apr 11, 2017

Justices offer few answers for vexed trial lawyers

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – A Virginia Supreme Court panel offered only marginal comfort last month for frustrated trial lawyers hoping to reverse a trend of unfavorable rulings in product liability cases. At the annual convention of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association at The Greenbrier, four Virginia justices were hit with questions about standards of […]

Mar 21, 2017

Widow Can Use ‘Last Clear Chance’ to Sue Railroad

An executor can sue a railroad company whose train fatally struck her husband, who was walking adjacent to railroad tracks, listening through earbuds to music on his cell phone, when he was struck by a part of the train that extended from the side and hit him in the head and shoulders; plaintiff alleged the […]

Aug 1, 2016

McAuliffe promises swift action after felon-rights ruling

After his blanket felon-rights res­toration order was struck down by the Supreme Court of Virginia July 22, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s adminis­tration said it would move quickly to ensure thousands of felons hop­ing to cast ballots in November’s election would be able to vote. By midweek, however, a news report questioned whether McAuliffe would be able […]

Jul 25, 2016

No ‘Imminent Harm’ Threat for Duress

Applying the standard for a duress defense adopted in Small v. Common­wealth, the Supreme Court of Virginia upholds a circuit court decision that de­fendant felon’s possession of a handgun as a response to a reported threat to his girlfriend did not demonstrate immi­nent harm and did not support his ba­sis for asking to withdraw a […]

Jul 25, 2016

‘Generalized Fear’ Does Not Support Duress

The Supreme Court of Virginia up­holds a circuit court decision that the commonwealth was prejudiced by de­fendant’s three-year delay in moving to withdraw his plea of guilty to pos­sessing a weapon as a convicted felon, a delay defendant attributed to the wait for conviction of the man who shot him and another man; defendant’s general­ized […]

Jul 19, 2016

Justices question standing for challenge to rights restoration

A Republican legal challenge to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s politically charged blanket rights restoration for convicted felons could be decided on how the case reached the doors of the state Supreme Court. The justices conducted oral arguments in the voting rights case Tuesday. It was one of two constitutional clashes heard at a special summer […]

Jun 27, 2016

Court Erred in Dismissing Condemnation Case

The Supreme Court of Virginia reverses a trial court decision dismissing Dominion Power’s petition to condemn 7.88 acres of a landowner’s 354-acre series of tracts and awarding the owner $312,575 in attorney’s fees and $141,866 in costs and expenses; the trial court erred in holding that the owner did not waive his jurisdictional challenge to […]

Jun 27, 2016

No Error from ‘Superseding Cause’ Evidence

A group of former Virginia Tech students who were poisoned by carbon monoxide from an overworked water heater may not recover from the manufacturer of the water heater in their products liability suit alleging breach of warranty and negligence; a divided Supreme Court of Virginia disagrees about a jury in­struction on superseding causation, but af­firms […]

Jun 27, 2016

The Empty Chair

Despite a plea from trial lawyers for guidance on when a defendant can cast blame on outsiders in a tort case, the Supreme Court of Virginia’s latest ruling on the issue of superseding cause is unlikely to resolve the issue. The court ruled 5-2 on June 16 that a water heater manufacturer could point to […]

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