Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10:00 AM

Practicing in the Western District of Virginia CLE

I attended a very informative and enjoyable CLE yesterday regarding practicing in the Western District of Virginia and section 1983 cases.  The CLE was put on by the Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Association.  Judge Dillon, Magistrate Judge Ballou and Magistrate Judge Hoppe were panelists. 

One interesting fact I learned was that 20% of the civil cases filed in the WDVa are 1983 cases or Bivens cases.  A significant number of these cases are pro se cases filed by prisoners.  Most of those cases are summarily dismissed at the pleadings stage or on summary judgment, but some of them proceed to trial, which can cause problems for the Court.  (Imagine a prisoner in shackles questioning a prison guard on the witness stand or giving the closing argument in a civil rights case.)  I remember Judge Wilson describing situations like this when I was a law clerk. 

The Court wants to create a list of attorneys who would be willing to take on some of these cases pro bono.  Sounds like a very good way for young attorneys to get federal court trial experience.  I expect that more information will soon be available on the Court's website.

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