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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All Virginia Senate Committees are Re-Organized/ Re-Assigned on the Third Week of the 2014 General Assembly Session

 
Blog Followers, 

The members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee have changed as of yesterday’s power shift in the Virginia Senate. 

See these articles for more details on the changes: 

Senate Democrats U-turn on power sharing, January 29, 2014

Democrats present plan to take control of Senate, January 28, 2014

Assembly Democrats flex newfound muscle, January 28, 2014

Va. Democrats assume control of state Senate, change rules, January 28, 2014

Democrats realign state Senate; GOP calls method ‘anarchy’, January 28, 2014

Democrats take control of Virginia Senate, January 28, 2014

This is the new make-up of the Committee that hears the majority of RSO issues in the Senate. 

2014- Senate Courts of Justice Committee as of January 29, 2014 

 
Party
Email
Richmond, VA. During Session
Chairman   
Henry Marsh
D
804-698-7516
John Edwards
D
804-698-7521
Janet Howell                       *Also on VSCC
D
804-698-7532
L. Louise Lucas
D
804-698-7518
Ryan McDougle
R
804-698-7504
A. Donald McEachin
D
804-698-7509
Thomas “Tommy” Norment                          *Also on VSCC  
*Also on VCSC
R
804-698-7503
Mark Obenshain
R
804-698-7526
J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen
D
804-698-7534
Toddy Puller
D
804-698-7536
Richard Saslaw
D
804-698-7535
William Stanley
R
804-698-7520
Richard Stuart
R
804-698-7528
Jill Holtzman Vogel
R
804-698-7527
Jennifer Wexton
D
804-698-7533

Please note the three changes. Removed were Senators Garrett and Reeves, added are Senators Petersen and Wexton, new Chairman is Senator Marsh. 

Thank you! 

Mary

OpenVirginiaLaw.com: Virginia’s Appellate Courts have Been Choosing to Make Public Access Much More Difficult than it Should Be

 
Thank you eAdvocate for posting the below OpenVirginiaLaw.com report card. 

Now if the Virginia General Assembly would only video record all Sub-Committee and Full Committee hearings to document who supports and opposes each bill and to learn what the reasons, concerns and benefits of a bill are. As well as the daily House and Senate chamber sessions, if you don’t catch those live on-line there is no watching them after the fact. 

Then allow for live and replay on-line viewing of the hearings by citizens across the Commonwealth. But still as of in 2014 that isn’t a possibility, why! 

Mary
 

Public access to the states’ highest courts: a report card

It’s self-evident that the Supreme Court of Virginia is an important part of state government.  But because the court may seem remote from most people and day-to-day life, it’s worth briefly considering the scope of its ability to impact the lives of Virginians. 

In the last year, the Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled in cases concerning the duty that state educational institutions have with respect to students, the tolls that residents and travelers in Virginia’s second most populous region will soon be paying, the legality of Texas Hold ‘Em poker, the relationship between congregations and denominations, and many other matters of public interest.  It does not take going far back in time to find Virginia’s appellate courts deciding matters as intimate as whether unmarried people may legally have sex.  (The answer: yes, as long as they’re over 18.  16 & 17 year olds apparently should get married first.  But we digress.) 

In short, Virginia citizens have a huge interest in what Virginia’s appellate courts do.  The public also has a well-established constitutional right of access to court records and proceedings. 

In practice, however, Virginia’s appellate courts have been choosing to make public access — especially to the facts, arguments, and law (in briefs and oral arguments) that influence and lead to opinions — much more difficult than it should be.  Specifically: 

  • Despite the fact that it has scanned/digitized versions of more than 100 years of briefs, and that court rules require parties to file an electronic copy of new briefs (see Rule 5:26(e)), the Supreme Court does not make briefs available on its website.  You must request a copy.  Nor will the court e-mail that copy to you.  They will print out a paper copy, for which you must pay $0.25 per page.
 
That difficulty and lack of access to important appellate records and proceedings is unfortunate and galling.

We suspected that the situation in Virginia also was unusual, but, to our knowledge, there has been no source of comprehensive, comparative information for the 50 states.  We decided we could fix that. 

So we produced an assessment of public access to the top court in each state (779 KB PDF)  In addition to a narrative summary, recommendations for improvement, and a Q&A-format discussion of public access, the report card provides detailed, state-by-state information, supported with relevant hyperlinks, in an easy-to-understand format. 

We expect to highlight various parts of the report card in future posts.  We hope you’ll spend a few minutes perusing it, but we won’t make you read the report to find out how Virginia scored:  with its recent start of a publicly accessible archive of oral argument audio recordings, Virginia received a “C-”.  (That was up from an original score, before last Friday’s announcement, of “D”.)  Virginians now need not console ourselves merely with saying “at least we’re not Alabama.”  But there’s still considerable room for improvement.