Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coda to Eli's UVa post

See Eli's previous post.

Eli's right about ruling from the bench, as opposed to listening to the lawyers babble, ask some questions, and then taking the matter under submission to re-emerge weeks later with an opinion.  Ruling from the bench means the judge was very confident about who was right, and nothing in the four hours of oral argument preceding the ruling made the judge waver and consider delaying action to review the written briefs.  It's a smack-down of the side that loses.

Getting fees from the losing side when the losing side is a private entity is very unusual in America, so unfortunately I doubt that'll happen in this case.  OTOH, it's all a matter of state law, so maybe Virginia law might have something that would help.

A grain of salt about the accuracy of the summary by the losing side.  Maybe it's accurate, but don't bet the farm.  They make it sound like Mann's side lost some backup arguments they were trying out in case the main argument failed.  Losers are putting on a brave face, but they can't help noticing that they lost.  I expect there may be cross-appeals from Mann's side about their backup arguments, assuming he has the legal resources available to put in the effort.

It would be interesting to know if the judge ruled from the bench while reading a carefully-prepared statement or spoke more colloquially.  The former would probably carry more weight on appeal.

I read somewhere that 14 or so other states have similar provisions in their laws.  If the ruling is appealed and sustained, then the appellate court precedent could be persuasive elsewhere.  If it's not appealed, the decision by a lower court like this one has little or no persuasive authority.  Bad guys get to decide whether to double down on the issue.