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Justice Donald W. Lemons

Apr 20, 2020

High court OKs remote hearings for all cases

A new announcement from the Supreme Court of Virginia could open doors for remote hearings to keep litigation moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons said judges may, in their discretion, conduct any civil or criminal matter by electronic audio-visual communication with the consent of the participants. The guidance in […]

Jan 30, 2018

Sanctions hurdle removed for discovery stonewall

Accusations of discovery lapses may be common in civil litigation, but what does a lawyer do when his opponent simply ignores routine discovery requests? While attorneys agree it’s rare for a litigant to make no response whatsoever to standard written discovery or to fail to appear at a noticed deposition, Virginia lawyers have long faced […]

Sep 25, 2017

A second opinion

The Supreme Court of Virgin­ia says a Henry County judge was too quick to force a hospital to accept 25 cents on the dollar for a heart patient hit with a surprise medical bill. The justices said the judge was wrong to conclude that a contract was invalid just because the patient signed a financial […]

Aug 1, 2017

Judges’ Courthouse Advocacy Not Misconduct

Two judges who financially and publicly expressed support for a citizens’ coalition that opposed relocation of the Augusta County Courthouse outside of the city of Staunton did not engage in misconduct in violation of Virginia judicial canons; the Supreme Court of Virginia dismisses charges against them filed by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission. ‘Political’ organization […]

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

Surety Did Not Make ‘Gift’ to Borrower

Appellant, who deposited a $50,000 certificate of deposit with a bank as collateral for a guaranty to assist his former romantic partner in obtaining a loan for her business, did not make a gift to the former partner; the Supreme Court of Virginia reverses a circuit court holding that appellant, as an accommodation guarantor of […]

Feb 1, 2017

Court Upholds ‘Willful Concealment’ Jury Instruction

At defendant’s trial for petit larceny, third or subsequent offense, of store merchandise, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury that “willful concealment” of goods while on store premises is evidence of intent to convert and defraud the owner of the goods, unless there is believable evidence to the contrary; the Supreme […]

Aug 1, 2016

Order for Blanket Restoration of Felon Rights Invalid

The Supreme Court of Virginia grants a writ of mandamus to overturn an Ex­ecutive Order that restored voting and other civil rights to some 206,000 Vir­ginians convicted of a felony who have completed their sentences and periods of supervised release; petitioners – leg­islative leaders and Virginia voters – have standing and the governor’s clem­ency power […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jun 13, 2016

Constructive Trust for Developer’s Lot Reversed

An owner who sold her lot to a developer for cash and a promise to convey a lot in the new subdivision to her is not entitled to a con­structive trust on another lot after the devel­oper sold the lot originally assigned to her to another buyer, but she is entitled to damages of $110,000, […]

Jun 13, 2016

No Prejudice Shown from Defendant’s Jail Garb

A defendant who was wearing jail-issued clothing when tried for petit larceny, third offense, is not entitled to have his conviction reversed due to prejudice before the jury, the Supreme Court of Virginia holds. The only description in the record of defen­dant’s clothing is from his counsel – “a green, sort of scrub outfit,” black […]

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