January 26, 2018
The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association selected Francis McQ. Lawrence to its Steering Committee. A majority of the sitting Steering Committee members is needed to select new members. Membership Chair Theo Stamos made the motion selecting Mr. Lawrence, who replaces Mr. Craig Cooley on the committee.
The VTLA is a voluntary bar association “dedicated to enhancing the knowledge, skills and professionalism of trial lawyers and committed to improving the law and the fairness of Virginia’s system of justice.” The Association is governed by a statewide Board of Governors and “educate the public about the role of trial lawyers and the importance of the jury in our justice system.” The association also hosts a variety of continuing legal education seminars, hosts the Virginia Criminal Justice Conference, and lobbies before the Virginia General Assembly.
October 4, 2016
The Virginia Supreme Court granted a motion to dismiss filed by St. John, Bowling & Lawrence, ending a case brought against the Region Ten Community Services Board. Jim Bowling represented Region Ten in litigation brought against the agency by the plaintiff, an individual receiving services from Region Ten. When the plaintiff lost at the trial court, he attempted to appeal the trial court decision to the Virginia Supreme Court. In lieu of filing a lengthy and time-consuming Brief in Opposition to the Petition for Appeal, Mr. Bowling filed a succinct Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Virginia Supreme Court Rule 5:4. The Motion argued, among other things, that the Assignments of Error were insufficient and that the appeal should be dismissed. The Motion also asked the Court to stay the proceedings until the Motion was decided.
The Supreme Court granted the motion to stay the proceedings, obviating the need to file a Brief in Opposition to Appeal and subsequently granted Region Ten’s motion to dismiss the petition on the basis of insufficient assignments of error.
May 9, 2016
On May 9, 2016, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided a precedent-setting case in Goines v. Valley Community Services Board, et al. that has been cited frequently since its publication. St. John, Bowling & Lawrence attorneys Jim Bowling and Francesca Fornari represented a mental-health evaluator, who was alleged to have erroneously concluded that the plaintiff suffered from a mental illness and that he posed a threat to the safety of his neighbors. The plaintiff was involuntarily committed to a hospital for five days. The District Court held on a motion to dismiss that the mental-health evaluator did not violate any of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and dismissed the case against her. The plaintiff appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit, where Jim Bowling successfully argued that the information contained in the Prescreening Report, which had been attached to the Complaint, was sufficient to provide probable cause for the emergency mental-health detention. The Fourth Circuit upheld the District Court’s dismissal of the case against the mental-health evaluator. The Goines opinion is an important decision out of the Fourth Circuit because it sets forth the legal standards governing under what circumstances the contents of documents attached to a Complaint should be treated as “true” for purposes of a motion to dismiss.