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Supreme Court of Virginia News

Mar 26, 2020

Two-step challenge to no-contest clause is OK

Since ancient times, the wealthy have sought to ensure their assets are distributed the way they intend and to foil any effort by survivors to undermine their estate plans. The practice continues, with wills and trusts using language that revokes legacy benefits for anyone who dares challenge the terms of the testamentary document. A recent […]

Mar 16, 2020

A wary eye

Officials with Virginia courts and state bar groups were keeping a wary eye on developments as preparations intensified to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. As of March 12, 15 people in Virginia had tested positive for the virus, according to state officials, and colleges and universities were announcing plans […]

Feb 27, 2020

Court: Judge too quick to strike med mal case

Expert testimony that the timely examination of an obstetrical patient by the defendant doctors would likely have saved the woman’s life was enough to let the wrongful death case go to a jury, the Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled. While cross-examination may have undermined the plaintiff’s experts, the trial judge considering a motion to […]

Feb 24, 2020

A long-distance call

A new rule promises to open opportunities for Virginia lawyers to present trial witnesses by video from distant locations. Witnesses will be allowed to testify by audio-video links at civil trials under the rule that takes effect March 15. The rule may find common use in personal injury cases. The language suggests a judge should […]

Jan 30, 2020

Body cam footage helps revive force claim

A former police officer already found liable for false arrest faces additional exposure for civil rights violations based on injuries inflicted in a Petersburg traffic stop, under a Virginia Supreme Court ruling. A jury verdict on assault, battery and malicious prosecution with about $23,000 in damages could be augmented based on civil rights violations and […]

Jan 13, 2020

High court: school’s fee–shifting struck

A private school requirement that parents pay legal costs for both sides in court disputes was an “unconscionable” contract provision, the Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed. The court on Jan. 2 affirmed the ruling of a Fairfax County judge that the Flint Hill School in Oakton was overreaching in its demand that parents agree […]

Jan 6, 2020

Public education

The newest museum in Richmond opened last fall in a place one might not expect: the Supreme Court of Virginia. But the high court’s Judicial Learning Center, which opened in September, is far from a dry tribute to the rule of law in Virginia. It seeks to bring the law alive, with interactive exhibits and […]

Dec 23, 2019

Estate plans overturned after scrutiny

Virginia courts are taking a close look at questionable estate plans. A Virginia jury this month decided that a widow’s will – leaving the bulk of her estate to the lawyer who wrote her will – was procured through undue influence and fraud. The Fairfax County verdict overturned what would have been a $1.5 million […]

Dec 10, 2019

Nine judges falter in performance surveys

At least nine incumbent Virginia trial court judges seeking new terms could expect tough questions this month about their reviews from attorneys and others. The Supreme Court of Virginia released Judicial Performance Evaluation reports Nov. 26 for 50 judges eligible for re-election by the 2020 General Assembly. Since the preparation of those reports, three of […]

Dec 9, 2019

Pension distribution order fixed after 21 days

A divorced couple’s pension distribution order was final and unassailable after 21 days, according to a ruling last month from the Supreme Court of Virginia. Even though a statute expands the jurisdiction of a circuit court to modify a pension order in certain circumstances, it does not open the door to substantive changes in the […]

Nov 27, 2019

‘Piggyback’ appeals nixed in new rule

Despite some local customs and contrary advice from the court’s own rules advisors, the Supreme Court of Virginia says one party’s appeal from general district court will not bring all other claims and issues before the circuit court. Effective Jan. 1, a new rule will state that, in civil cases, a notice of appeal “does […]

Nov 22, 2019

Court highlights rules for medical records evidence

Lawyers can look to a recent Supreme Court of Virginia ruling for guidance on admission of medical records at trial, even though the justices deemed improper admission of a doctor’s file to be harmless error in the case. With a Nov. 7 published order, the court affirmed a “no damages” verdict from a Norfolk jury […]

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