Court of Petty Appeals: Coughlin v. Paw Review

Coughlin v. Virginia Animal Law Society

912 U.Va. 16 (2019)

Photo courtesy Friends of Gary PAC.

Photo courtesy Friends of Gary PAC.

VanderMeulen, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Shmazzle, C. J., and Ranzini, Elicegui, and Schmid, JJ., joined. Elicegui, J., filed a concurring opinion.


Justice VanderMeulen delivered the opinion of the Court.


The sun sets in the west and rises in the east; the trees sprout new leaves in the spring and shed them in the fall; and the Virginia Animal Law Society discriminates against non-dog-and-cat animals. It’s a tale as old as time, folks, and it’s happening again.




Each year since the founding of the Law School,[1] the Virginia Animal Law Society (VALS) has held a “Paw Review” contest, wherein pet owners submit photos of their animal companions, the photos are placed on jars in the Hunton Andrews Kurth[2] hallway by ScoCo, and denizens of the Law School place money in the jars to signal their aesthetic approval of the pets. The pet with the most money in its jar at the end of the week receives the title of “the Law School’s most loved pet,” according to VALS. The money is donated to a no-kill shelter. It’s all very charming and cute and great for distracting us temporarily from our overwhelming existential dread. There’s just one problem—VALS viciously and unlawfully discriminates against animals other than dogs and cats.


Professor Anne Coughlin complained about the practice in 2017, winning an injunction from this Petty Court ordering Paw Review to include Coughlin’s garden toad, Gary. See Coughlin v. Virginia Animal Law Society, 90 U.Va. 403 (2017) (Coughlin I). There, we famously held that “all pets are beloved by their owners.” Unfortunately, VALS must have missed the armed goons we sent to enforce that ruling. Coughlin submitted photographic evidence that this year’s Paw Review consists of three categories: Cats, Dogs, and “Other.” Coughlin contends that, while “Other” ostensibly includes pets like Gary, the stigma attached to the blatant otherizing of a group of animals and Paw Review’s shameless request that participants submit photos of their “furry friend[s]” lay bare that VALS has simply applied a shiny gloss to its bigoted policies—a gloss meant to evade this Court’s injunction. Coughlin has sued to enjoin VALS to include both Gary and Sweetsong, a hummingbird that frequents Coughlin’s back porch. The lower court ruled for Coughlin, finding that VALS was attempting to evade the injunction in Coughlin I. VALS appealed, holding that the lower court failed to grant its decision-making deference under this Court’s Exxon doctrine. We now affirm.





Appellant VALS contends that under this Court’s Exxon doctrine (not to be confused with Chevron),[3] student groups are entitled to deference as long as there exists a rational basis for their decision. Class of 2005 v. Exxon Station on Emmett, 617 U.Va. 102 (2004) (“SBA’s decision to buy Exxon chicken wings for admitted students is baffling, but is nonetheless ‘rational’ in the barest sense.”). That is, this Court will not generally review de novo decisions of student organizations deemed to be supported by reason, however flimsy, to determine whether they were the best possible decision for the student body.[4] On this basis, Appellant argues its decision to advertise Paw Review for “furry friend[s]” and label animals other than cats and dogs “Other”—allegedly based on a need to “limit the number of category prizes” and “prevent a redux of the Hamster Debacle of 1978”—should receive deference.


But Appellant misreads our precedents. VALS is correct to note that student organization decisions are normally reviewed to determine if their bases are rational and upheld if so. But where a student organization’s action may plausibly be shown to demonstrate animus toward a protected class, not only does Exxon not apply, but the Court will subject the decision to the most exacting scrutiny. See Davies v. Rod & Gun Club, 764 U.Va. 33 (2013) (“A student’s being ‘a no-good hippie’—while probs true—is not a valid reason for her exclusion from a shooting trip.”) The famous protected classes of UVA Law are, of course, (1) hippies, (2) pets, and (3) massage chairs. Id.




The questions here are (1) whether Gary and Sweetsong are “pets” under Rod & Gun and (2) if Appellant’s decision to otherize them was based in animus. If yes to both, then we apply strict scrutiny and BLAMMO! VALS loses.[5]


First off, obvi the toad and hummingbirds are pets. Professor Coughlin loves them and they frequent her home and bring her joy. Appellants, quoting Justice Jani’s dissent in Coughlin I, claim Gary “is not a cherished pet but rather a trespasser in an otherwise lovely garden.” 90 U.Va. at 406 (Jani, J., dissenting). But evidence in the record that Coughlin allows Gary in her home and frequently feeds him scraps of granola and vegan mayonnaise. If that’s not owner–pet love we don’t know what is. And Sweetsong depends on Coughlin for sugary sustenance like most children do on their parents. Relying on the famed doctrine of ipse dixit, we hold that these are pretty clearly pets, folks.


Second, VALS’s decision to otherize Gary and Sweetsong is virtually dripping with animus, as is its not-so-clever “furry friend[s]” wink, clearly designed as it is to communicate that Toads and Hummingbirds Need Not Apply. VALS’s clear notice of its animus via our previous injunctions and the aforementioned armed goons leaves no room for doubt that it knows what it is doing. These guys are straight jerks, no doubt about it.




Once animus against a protected class is determined, our precedents’ commands are clear: INJUNCTION, baby. Rod & Gun. Appellant is, for the forty-sixth year in a row, formally labelled a speciesist cretin and ordered to suspend its unlawful animus. In terms of remedy, we leave it to Appellant to determine how it can include Gary and Sweetsong without the “Other” category, but they are fur sure ordered to get rid of the “furry friend” bullshit from their ads and undergo some sensitivity training about speciesism, the sick creeps.


The court below is affirmed and Coughlin wins again.


It is so ordered.


Justice Elicegui, concurring.


“All pets are beloved by their owners.” Coughlin v. Virginia Animal Law Society, 90 U.Va. 403, 406 (2017). Under this long-standing (okay, it’s only two years old, but it’s TRUE) and just principle, my esteemed colleague, Justice VanderMeulen correctly protected Gary and Sweetsong from VALS’s blatant, targeted discrimination.

I write separately from my capable colleagues to note two points. I would extend the pet-love doctrine even further to explicitly include all creatures self-identified as pets, regardless of species, age, or “existence.” I personally have two beloved pets, Cassie and Princess Star,[6] who are uniquely special to me, their owner, even though they now live in doggy Heaven.[7] In fact, I cried at a brewery over Spring Break because I had to put them down nine and four years ago, respectively. While my dear pets meet the qualification of “furry friend,” they need additional protection lest they experience discrimination for no longer residing in my household. I don’t trust VALS to treat my darling pets with the dignity they deserve.

I also note my disagreement with the Exxon doctrine and urge the Court to revisit this old, mistake-riddled doctrine that has no basis in the Petty Constitution of the Law School. As the court of highest jurisdiction over all petty disputes at UVA Law,[8] this Court cannot limit its power to reviewing the decisions of student groups by granting groups deference so long as the decision is “rational.” Exxon itself shows the error of this doctrine. The Court exists to protect students, even 0Ls, from the tummy troubles that follow after eating chicken wings from a gas station. Class of 2005 v. Exxon Station on Emmett, 617 U.Va. 102 (2004). If the Court is not going to stand up for what is right, delicious, and just, who will? Next thing you know, we’ll rubber stamp the decision to replace the cookies at the Weekly Wind Down with fruit. Not on my watch.

The Court of Petty Appeals has a duty to the UVA Law community. My colleagues do an adequate job of protecting Gary and Sweetsong, and I fully agree with that decision. However, the Court can do more to protect the citizens of UVA Law from petty slights by clarifying the pet-love doctrine to include my beloved pets and exercising the full power of petty court review, instead of limiting the Court’s jurisdiction under Exxon.

[1] We’re pretty sure this is right.

[2] RIP Williams.

[3] Jk it’s really just Chevron.

[4] Can you imagine the nonsense we’d have to deal with? SBA alone would cost us weeks of invaluable blacked-out-at-Bilt time!

[5] This is literally the only thing the Court remembers from Con Law.

[6] Princess was her first name and Star was her middle name. What self-respecting 8-year-old would give a dear pet only one name? Smh. Plus, I couldn’t decide between Princess and Star.

[7] All pets go to Heaven. Or a farm upstate.

[8] Serious disputes need not apply. If you have a real problem, take it to the experts in Student Affairs, folks. If you have a petty problem—break-ups, stolen candy, undergrads in the library—well, you know who the experts are.

Professor Lunch: Ruth Mason

Katherine Mann ‘19
Features Editor Emeritus

A (Not So) Taxing Lunch: Law Weekly Gains Exclusive Interview with Professor Mason

Many 3Ls might remember the first day of orientation in August 2016––the Friday before actual orientation started––when we were invited to attend a bonus session including a panel of professors kind enough to give their time to advise us on our first year and beyond. I clearly remember Professor Ruth Mason, who was introduced as a tax professor, respond to the moderator’s request for advice to first years. Her response: “Take tax.” Suffice it to say I was skeptical; of all the things I knew I wanted to know about the law, tax was one topic I was pretty sure was not on my list. But I was smart enough to listen, and I took her three-credit Federal Income Tax class that spring. Of course, she was correct, and I would give the same advice to any first year.

Professor Ruth Mason sat down with members of the  Law Weekly . Photo courtesy UVA Law.

Professor Ruth Mason sat down with members of the Law Weekly. Photo courtesy UVA Law.

Last week, we at the Law Weekly attended lunch with Professor Mason and she gave us her story about how she landed in tax herself. An older friend from law school told her about watching all the tax lawyers at his firm leave at a reasonable hour every day. Professor Mason, who had no prior financial background, took a tax class and realized she loved it. She worked as a tax associate at Wilkie Farr & Gallagher after graduating from Harvard Law School and subsequently worked in the Graduate Tax Program at NYU. She later transitioned to a professor position at the University of Connecticut School of Law before coming to UVA.

Her husband grew up in New York City, and she lived there for ten years. She said that they were both terrified to transition out of the City. Now they live happily with their two children in Charlottesville, where the kids can “walk on dirt,” as opposed to the concrete of their former city digs. As an example of the difference between raising kids here as opposed to New York, she said kids in New York know what a bond trader is at a pretty young age. When she has time for non-academic reading, it is mostly about gardening, since they finally have some space to grow vegetables, and their past efforts have led her to research animal-proof fencing. She noted that her husband had a rather different experience as a child in school in New York, as his school was once visited by the local police, who informed the kids that they needed to toughen up because they were becoming easy targets for muggings.

Professor Mason’s specialization is international tax, and she said that a major current issue is keeping up with international cooperative efforts to address cross-border commerce, particularly with tech companies. Apple is a famous example of a company that was able to avoid taxation by incorporating in Ireland but being active elsewhere, and countries are currently engaged in negotiations to avoid similar future tax avoidance. The recent changes to the United States Tax Code have also kept tax lawyers busy.

Professor Mason teaches the International Tax Practicum, which prepares students for the International and European Tax Moot Court Competition. Last year the UVA team became the first U.S. team to win the competition, and they are defending their title this week in Belgium. Professor Mason encourages all students to take at least one tax class, and to take it early. If you take it too late and find out you love it, you’ll have missed an opportunity to take more advanced tax classes. If you have an opportunity to take a class with her, you’ll find she has a good sense of humor, but she’s not afraid to give students a little scare once in a while. She once handed out a class evaluation form during a break, and when a few stragglers returned a few minutes late, she asked the other students to hand in their quizzes.

She has also been a visiting professor at Johannes Kepler University, Leiden University, Universite Paris 1 (Pantheon Sorbonne), and Yale Law School. Last summer, Professor Mason spent six weeks in Amsterdam as the first and youngest female professor in residence at the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation. The goal of the appointment is to get perspectives from tax scholars around the world to facilitate discussion on cross-border taxation. She and her family enjoyed the city, and she said her kids were even speaking a little Dutch by the time they left. And she gave a pro-tip for parents: don't entirely shift kids to the new time zone. They slept in and stayed up late, so they could do activities in the evening as a family.

I may not have fallen in love with tax enough to pursue courses beyond Federal Income Tax, but I am glad I took Professor Mason’s advice early on. I will echo her advice and say “take tax,” but especially if you can get into one of her sections. Just make sure to return from the break on time.



Hot Bench: Andrew Roberts '19

Andrew Roberts ‘19

Andrew Roberts '19.png

What is your favorite word/phrase?  

“Go Dawgs.”

Where did you grow up? 

Atlanta, Georgia.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

Chick-fil-A, of course.

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why?

I’d go on an outdoor adventure with survival instructor and adventurer Bear Grylls.

What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school? 

Working out at North Grounds.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

The Bahamas.

What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVA Law?

It’s all about 1L.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

An omelette, oatmeal, and a banana—same as always.

What’s your most interesting two-truths- and-a- lie? (And what’s the lie?)

(1) I get 4-5 hours of sleep every night; (2) I’ve flown on a private jet chartered by Billy Currington so I could hang out with him backstage before a concert; and (3) I am a dual-citizen of the United States and the Bahamas.  I’ll let y’all guess the lie.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

A new house on an old farm with incredible views of the countryside.

What’s your least favorite sound? 

“Roll Tide.”

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

A six-pack of Creature Comforts beer.

Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?

Backstreet Boys, I guess.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

Turnpike Troubadours here in Charlottesville.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

Probably either trying new restaurants, hanging out at Common House on the downtown mall, or watching UVA basketball at JPJ.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

Use of the Oxford comma.

What’s your spirit animal?

A cow.

What’s your favorite food?

At the risk of redundancy: Chick-fil-A, of course.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?

If I won the Mega Millions, I would probably become a philanthropist, but if I only won a hundred bucks on a scratch off ticket, I’d probably just buy two twelve packs and a tank of gas with it.

If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn?

How to become an actually decent golfer and not the hack that I am.

If you could be in the Olympics, which sport would you compete in?


Where is a place you haven’t been but want to travel to?

The Holy Land—Israel and the surrounding region.

What are you looking forward to after you graduate?

Clerking back home in the great state of Georgia and marrying my fiancée, Hannah Basta (#HastaLaBasta).

What are you going to miss most about the law school?

I am genuinely going to miss school itself; most of us will never again spend three years doing nothing but learning interesting subjects taught by incredible people (we miss you at the law school, Professor Jeffries) and taking advantage of countless events and opportunities (Foxfield, PILA, Libel, softball, Bilt—you name it).

What are the 7 wonders of the law school?

(1) The “area of rescue assistance” closets in the law library; (2) the inane ordering system for the room numbers on the second floor of Slaughter; (3) whoever is bankrolling Fed Soc; (4) the third floor of the law library; (5) the vulture mentality around the free food table; (6) the curve; and (7) the massive industrial basement under Slaughter.


Letter to the Editor: 03/20/19

The Line Between Legitimate Critiques of Israel and Anti-Semitism

Jason Fruchter & Julian Kritz


The last few months has been an especially painful time to be Jewish in the United States. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise; in New York City for instance, a majority of the city’s hate crimes have been anti-Semitic. And Congress has failed to lead on combating anti-Semitism. In the wake of a series of anti-Semitic comments made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Congress failed to denounce her remarks, instead passing a resolution condemning bigotry in general. We recognize that there are widespread misconceptions about what constitutes anti-Semitism and when hateful rhetoric about Israel and its supporters crosses the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel into anti-Semitism. We understand that this line is not intuitive and that there must be ample space for criticism of Israel. However, as engaged leaders of the organized Jewish community at the Law School, we see it as our obligation to use recent events as a teachable moment for our fellow students, many of whom will assume positions of leadership in the future and have a responsibility to eradicate hate.


The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), a coalition of thirty-one countries committed to a coordinated effort against anti-Semitism, uses a series of examples to illustrate what constitutes anti-Semitic rhetoric. Two of them are directly applicable to Congresswoman Omar’s comments. Anti-Semitism includes “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions,” and “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”


These are forms of anti-Semitism with deep roots in Jewish history. For centuries, there have been conspiracy theories about Jewish domination and accusations of Jewish disloyalty, which have been used to justify discrimination and violence against Jews. Representative Omar has repeatedly invoked anti-Semitic themes, suggesting that the Jewish State has “hypnotized” the world, that it’s Jewish money that drives Congressional support for Israel, and that Jewish-Americans who feel affinity for Israel are disloyal. These are textbook examples of anti-Semitism. It is not a coincidence that former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke praised Ilhan Omar for her defiance to the “Z.O.G.,” which stands for the Zionist Occupation Government that he believes runs the U.S. Likewise, writers for the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer have praised Omar in the “Jewish Problem” section of their website.


Similar to other types of bigotry, Omar’s claims are not grounded in reality. The Jewish State is the world’s scapegoat, the target of more condemnatory U.N. resolutions than any other nation in the world, despite being the Middle East’s only liberal democracy. If Israel were trying to hypnotize the world, it would be failing miserably. AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel group that seeks to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, comes in 147th in lobbying expenditures according to a Tablet Magazine study. Last year, Gallup pegged support for Israel at 64 percent amongst Americans, a much better explanation of congressional support for Israel than money. The poll also indicates that Jews—a paltry two percent of America’s population—are not alone in feeling affinity for the Middle East’s only liberal democracy and a vital American ally. 


Omar’s anti-Semitic rhetoric is especially unfortunate because of how important it is for Jewish and Muslim communities to stand together against hate, and work together to bring peace to the Middle East. Omar herself has been the victim of despicable Islamophobia, most notably when she was depicted as being responsible for 9/11 at the West Virginia State Capitol. The recent white supremacist terror attack on mosques in New Zealand and the attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue underscore the need for solidarity between our communities. This solidarity can also lead to progress towards Middle East peace, as we work together to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.


We want to be very clear. We are not trying to silence debate about the contours of the Israeli-American alliance or criticism of the Israeli government. Indeed, we welcome debate and engagement with the country that is so dear to our community. At times, we ourselves are very critical of the current Israeli government. No country is perfect or immune from criticism, including Israel, though we firmly believe that much criticism of Israel is unwarranted, especially in view of Israel’s status as the Middle East’s only democracy.


But the fact that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic does not mean that none of it is. One of the most disingenuous lines we often hear is that condemnation of anti-Semitic rhetoric directed at Israel or Israel-supporting Jews is an attempt to stifle criticism of Israel. In reality, it is the anti-Semites who are trying to silence criticism of their anti-Semitism by falsely claiming that they are just criticizing Israel.


To distinguish between bigoted and legitimate criticism of the Jewish state, the IHRA adopted what is known as the Three D’s framework, which identifies criticism of Israel that “Delegitimizes,” “Demonizes,” or applies “Double Standards” as anti-Semitic.


Delegitimization means denying the Jewish right of self-determination in their historic homeland, Israel. For instance, remarks that refuse to acknowledge any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel or call Israel the “Zionist Settler-Colonial Entity” rather than acknowledge Israel’s existence as a rightful state invoke this “D.” To uniquely deny the Jewish people the right of self-determination in their historic home is an act of hate and denial, not a legitimate policy critique.


Demonization means the portrayal of Israeli Jews as evil, often using historically-rooted, anti-Semitic tropes. For instance, the blood libel accused demonic Jews of using the blood of Christian children in their Passover Matzah. This trope was used to justify anti-Jewish riots and massacres. The anti-Israel movement often uses tropes about Jewish bloodthirstiness to demonize the Israeli Defense Force’s efforts to protect their country.


Double standards refers to the singling out of Israel for international opprobrium and sanction. For instance, the BDS movement targets Israel for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, based on flimsy or even false claims about Israel’s human rights record, while ignoring the blatant human rights abuses of countries around the world, especially in the Middle East.


Students should know that some in our community consider almost all criticisms of Israel to be grounded in anti-Semitism, and others assert that practically no criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Both are extreme views unrepresentative of the mainstream of our community. What is mainstream and has been accepted by the vast majority of Jews and Jewish organizations—across the political spectrum—is the Three D approach to delineating the line between legitimate critiques of Israel and anti-Semitism.


We welcome debate about strengths and shortcomings of Israeli policy, Israeli civil society, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and U.S.-Israeli relations. But we must remain vigilant to ensure that these conversations do not devolve into bigotry. We will wholeheartedly condemn such bigotry against our own and any other community. We hope you will too.


Hot Bench: Editor Emeritus Jansen VanderMeulen '19

Hot Bench.jpeg

What are you most excited for during your clerkship year in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho? 

Wade Foster and I are going to shoot a bunch of pheasants and I can feast on pheasant tacos to my heart’s delight. 


What is your favorite word?   

January. Imagine James Earl Jones saying, “January.” 


Where did you grow up?  

Washington State’s picturesque Skagit Valley, home of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and acres of the world’s finest blueberries. 


What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? 

When I worked in the berry fields, a local taco truck would dispatch a van (license-plate frame: “Always Late But Worth the Wait”) to the fields for lunch every day. We would drop what we were doing and “make haste”—as the kids say—over to the van for some of the Doña’s tortas de asada. If she mass-produced her torta sauce she’d be a millionaire. 


If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why? 

I don’t believe in celebrities. 


What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school?  

If you go west on Barracks Road and just keep going past the general store, the road eventually turns to gravel; if you keep going a while longer, you end up at a county park in some foothills far from everything. My cell phone doesn’t work there and there’s no one around, so I open my truck window on a nice spring day to let the breeze in, lean my seat back, and go to sleep. It’s paradise. 


Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Southeast Washington’s Blue Mountains are an uncharted and unpopulated nirvana, far from street lights and car horns and 1Ls who steal your seat after the third day of class. You can hear the bull elk bugling and drink the spring water, but you will run into black bears and that can be disconcerting for some folks. 


What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVA Law? 

I should have known not to believe the tour guide who told me we’d all receive a fur cape like Emerson Spies’s when we graduated. 


What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

I have forsworn breakfast in this life except in narrow circumstances mostly involving Bodo’s and blueberries. 


If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 

See Question 3, supra 


What’s your least favorite sound? 

The unmistakable throat-clearing of a gunner about to derail Prof. Nelson yet again.  


What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? 

For my high school graduation, my penny-pinching Dutch family knew I wanted an ice cream cake, so they picked up one that was on sale at Dairy Queen. It said “Happy Acquittal, Suzy” with frosting decorations of an unlocked ball-and-chain. Given that the cake was left behind and on sale, Suzy apparently had a bad court date. 


What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville? 

Sometimes I go up to Darden Towe Park in Pantops and sleep on the ground under the big tree by the softball fields.  


If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be? 

I’d ban brunch don’t @ me. 


What’s your spirit animal? 



What’s your favorite food? 

I shoot some ducks, I pluck them, I cut out the breasts and sauté them with garlic and Worcestershire sauce and put them in some tortillas with peppers and onions and some sauce. 


If you won the lottery, what would you do with it? 

First, bye bye law school debt. 

Second, give Michael the groundskeeper a huge raise, Spies Garden looks amazing. 

Third, buy my dad a trip to Australia. 

Fourth, go to Delaware to prove it’s not a myth made up by law school professors. 

Fifth, purchase Waffle House. 

Sixth, end Waffle House. 

If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn? 

Civ Pro. 

What are the 7 wonders of the law school? 

  1. The giant hedge of red bushes the Law School is currently destroying by the Dean’s parking lot; 

  2. Lisa; 

  3. All eighteen things in the Law School named “Caplin”; 

  4. Tom Watson’s hair; 

  5. The enormous, wildly detailed painting of the hills in Caplin Pavilion; 

  6. K-Don’s success rate; 

  7. Dean Jeffries’ pocket square. 




COPA: Stevens v. Grey

Stevens v. Grey 

303 U.Va. 294 (2019) 

Justice ELICEGUI delivered the opinion of a unanimous Court.

After a messy breakup, George Grey and Alex Stevens brought suit in the Court of Petty Breakups. That Court misapplied the Petty Law of the Land, resulting in an inaccurate division of property and assets. This Court applied the fairness doctrine and best interests of the (fur) child to reach an appropriate division of assets.  

Petitioner George Grey and Respondent Alex Stevens began dating during their first semester 1L year. Stevens and Grey became fast friends; their relationship started off strictly platonic, because they were both in long-distance relationships with other people. After long nights struggling over proximate cause and the Erie doctrine, though, Stevens and Grey could not deny the chemistry between them. Stevens broke up with her boyfriend and Grey broke up with his girlfriend. 

Because Stevens and Grey started dating so early into their 1L year, their life at UVA became deeply intertwined. They had the same friend group, classes, and study habits. They went to the same parties and bars. Second semester, Stevens and Grey arranged to take one of their two electives together—Family Law. While taking Family Law, Stevens and Grey learned about prenuptial agreements and became concerned about what would happen if they ever broke up. They decided to draft a prenup to divide their friends and assets in case they divorced. 

Stevens and Grey continued to date happily. They spent 2L summer working in the D.C. office of Grey and Sloan LLP, and both received offers to return after graduation. When they returned to Charlottesville, they moved into a two-bedroom apartment together at the Jeffersonian. In October, they adopted a rescue Corgi named Toast.  

Unfortunately, though, the stress of living together and caring for Toast took a toll on Stevens and Grey’s relationship. They broke up in January of their 3L year. Stevens asked Grey to follow the terms of their prenup, move out of their apartment, and give her Toast. Grey refused, and counter-offered that Stevens should leave the apartment and give him the dog. Thereafter, they lived for three weeks in a tense silence, only communicating when they had to decide who would feed the dog or take her for a walk.  

Unable to persist in that untenable state, Stevens took the case to the Court of Petty Breakups to get a judgement enforcing the prenup and giving her custody of Toast. Stevens argued that the prenup was enforceable, because it was entered into by two equally savvy-1Ls. Stevens argues she was the rightful owner of the dog because she picked up Toast’s poop more often and that she should get to keep the apartment because it would be more of a hassle for her to move. On the other hand, Grey could easily move in with his friend O’Malley. The Court of Petty Breakups agreed. It found the prenup agreement enforceable, gave Stevens custody of Toast, as per the terms of the prenup, and issued a petty judicial decree, declaring that “Grey so totally had to get out of the apartment.” 

Grey appeals that decision to this Court. He argues that the prenup agreement is not enforceable because the couple made the agreement while already dating and did not consult a savvier, neutral 3L who actually knew about the Law School, law, and life. He asks this Court to apply the equitable doctrine of laches and, under that approach, give him custody of everything because he “has always been nicer than Stevens and should be rewarded for that.” 


While this Court will not use an ancient common law remedy to totally screw over Stevens, we do agree that the Court of Petty Breakups misapplied the petty law and did not reach the proper outcome. 

We agree with Grey and find that the prenup is unenforceable because it was entered into by parties that basically knew nothing while they were already dating. Everyone knows that second semester 1Ls haven’t learned property yet and don’t even know about the fertile octogenarian. How can they be expected to come to a fair division of ScoCo time? Or dog custody? In situations such as this, each party has a duty to consult an impartial, savvier 3L or one of his or her PAs. That disinterested third party can advise the 1L about life at UVA and how they should fairly divide up the power of the 3L couches in the future. Because the parties did not do this, this Court cannot enforce the prenup. 

This Court will apply the fairness doctrine to equitably divide up the parties’ assets and will look to the best interests of the (fur) child to decide who receives custody of Toast. First, turning to the parties’ friends, this Court is not in a position to divide up the couple’s section mates evenly or fairly. How are we supposed to know who’s good at softball and who’s fun to go out with? Instead, the parties shall hold a friend draft, to take place two weeks from now, where they will take turns selecting friends to keep. If the friends would rather be on the other team, they may trade among themselves to come to a better breakdown. 

This Court thinks it is only fair that one party get the apartment and one party get the dog. Whoever has to deal with the hassle of moving should at least get to keep the joy of a fluffy potato dog. Applying the best interests of the (fur) child standard, Stevens is the rightful owner of Toast. She is the one who takes Toast for walks, picks up her poop, and orders her dog food. Grey is responsible for taking Toast to the vet, but that is an infrequent duty and does not approach the level of hands-on responsibility that Stevens has. Therefore, Grey will keep the apartment. He must assist Stevens in finding a new place to live and cannot kick her out before she does, though. 

Finally, applying the fairness doctrine to the school, this Court finds there is no truly even way to divide ScoCo or classes to keep the parties entirely separate. Instead, Grey will get the exclusive right to be in the ScoCo dining area and Stevens will get the exclusive right to be in the atrium. Stevens will get the Gunner Pit and Grey will get the second floor of the library. This Court declines to impose a rule on class selection, but does encourage the parties to sit far apart if they happen to find themselves in the same class. 


Breakups are no fun, but the Court of Petty Breakups is here to smooth things over and divide assets (even if that involves divvying up beanie babies on the courtroom floor). The Court shall apply the fairness doctrine and best interests of the (fur) child to reach conclusions in the best interests of the parties and any pets involved. The judgment of the Court of Petty Breakups is VACATED and the case of Stevens v. Grey is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

It is so ordered.


Tweedledee: La Joya Fiesta


M. Eleanor Schmalzl ’20


After a long and laborious week of being 2Ls, Taylor and I decided it was time for a celebration. No, a party. Nay, a fiesta. As a result, she and I opted to try a new Mexican restaurant here in Charlottesville: La Joya. Located off Exit 120 on 64-E (and right across from the beloved Wegman’s), La Joya provided us with quick service and a great atmosphere for our first joint restaurant review.


Taylor and I entered a pleasantly quiet restaurant, dimly-lit but bright enough to find our table and even see each other from across the booth. We perused the menu and struggled to decide what meals to get given the wide variety of appealing options. Those who struggle to make decisions may be overwhelmed by this Mexican restaurant’s unique offerings, but I loved getting to pick from a wide array of exciting options. I often get the same thing every time I go to a restaurant for fear of getting a dish I don’t like as much as my normal go-to, but since this was my first visit to La Joya, the world was my oyster.


Despite the great assortment of options, Taylor and I didn’t stray too far from our core values. We ordered guac and queso in addition to the salsa that was provided fo free by the fine establishment.[1] Additionally, we both got margaritas.[2] The appetizers all had a nice little kick to them, providing the perfect[3] burst of flavor before our main courses. However, the margaritas left us wanting. What we were wanting? Alcohol. Seriously, I got a jumbo and wasn’t disgusted by the taste of tequila by the end of it (as is per usual for me when I get jumbos elsewhere in Charlottesville). But hey, if you enjoy sugary drinks that don’t leave you at least a little buzzed, La Joya margs are the ones for you!


Next came our entrees. I got the pollo con arroz[4] and, except for good company, found it to be my favorite part of the dinner. With bits of zucchini and mushroom mixed in, I enjoyed the unique twist on one of my go-to Mexican restaurant dishes. And I hadn’t realized this when ordering, but the dish didn’t include pounds of queso, meaning I didn’t have to waddle out of the restaurant in pain from being so full, as I normally do when eating at Mexican restaurants. Best of all, the restaurant honored my request for no onions despite them being included as part of the normal menu item. There is nothing worse than special ordering a dish to add or remove ingredients and those special orders being completely ignored. For this alone, I have to respect La Joya. I just can’t take the onion.


Overall, La Joya was a fine little hole-in-the-wall place for some decent grub. While I will stick to La Plaza Azteca when I need a good marg after a long week, and El Puerto for its closeness to the law school, La Joya provides a nice change of pace for people wanting a more low-key Mexican restaurant. Plus, with a Nestlé Tollhouse ice cream shop right across the street, how can you not love pay this nice, little restaurant a visit?

 [1] But extra chips after the first basket cost an additional $0.75. As the positive food reviewer, I will reserve statement on this menu decision.

[2] Only for the sake of journalistic research, obviously.

[3] Except for the onion in the guac. I don’t know why onion must be put in everything, but it has always felt especially inappropriate in the delicacy that is guacamole.

[4] This was its official title on the menu, should anyone question my knowledge that it is more commonly known as “arroz con pollo.”


Taylor Elicegui ’20
Features Editor


I have high standards for Mexican restaurants, and La Joya was okay but did not exceed expectations. The atmosphere is decent—it feels like a typical Mexican restaurant. The menu had a lot of options, which is always a bonus. There were almost too many good choices; Eleanor and I struggled to make decisions.


We started off with some cheese dip, guacamole, and salsa. This was one of my biggest complaints: the first basket of chips was free, but refills cost money. I appreciated the instant gratification of how quickly these delicious dips arrived but was very bitter when we had to pay $0.75 for another basket of chips to finish off our dips. The cheese dip was really good, but a little bit on the spicy side for my weak self. I was still undecided between several options, but the spiciness of the cheese sauce persuaded me away from the nachos and cheese enchiladas.


Ultimately, I decided on chimichangas—one chicken and one veggie. It came with rice and salad (which I find outrageous), but I substituted the salad for some refried beans. The beans were absolutely delicious and unhealthy—my favorite combo. The chicken chimichanga was also yummy and flavorful, particularly because it was covered in cheese. The veggie chimichanga was pretty solidly meh, particularly because I am not at all a bell pepper fan. I felt a little outraged on Eleanor’s behalf, though—what type of ACP doesn’t come smothered in cheese?!


My other biggest complaint was the margarita. As our driver, I went for a small, but was hoping for some interesting Eleanor jokes after she finished consuming her large. Unfortunately for me, the margarita appeared to be missing the key ingredient (tequila). She could have been the one driving us home, even post-jumbo margarita. Interestingly, the margarita also didn’t come with salt on the rim. I was happy, because I don’t like salt, but found it strange I didn’t even have to request it. If you happen to be a person who prefers a more exciting rim, make sure you request it.


Overall, the company was great and the food was okay. Not my new favorite Mexican restaurant in Charlottesville, but I would consider going again if I found myself on that side of town.

Court of Petty Appeals: Schmalzl Shmazzle v. VanderMeulen

Schmalzl Shmazzle v. VanderMeulen


936 U.Va. 492 (2019)


Shmazzle, C. J., (formerly Schmalzl, J.,) delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Pickett, Luk, and Elicegui, JJ., joined. VanderMeulen, J., filed a dissenting opinion.


Chief Justice Shmazzle delivered the opinion of the Court.




Not too long ago, former Chief Justice VanderMeulen[1] was the dictator of this Court. During his tenure, other Justices on the Court often found themselves joining opinions they’d never actually read, filing dissents they’d never actually written, and acting at the whim of “the King.” Now that I have taken control, I am going to lay to rest the wrongs he committed against me.[2] Only one such wrong is worth addressing today, for it was so great and so burdensome that no other can rightfully be tackled along with it.


As some of you may know, I entered this Court during February of 2017, eager to help decide all the petty problems that UVA Law students need litigated. The first opinion I joined was on April 11, 2018, Streit v. Students, 654 U.Va. 183 (2017), and I proudly signed off as Justice Shmazzle. The name stems from my first cold call in 1L, when an unnamed professor[3] spent extravagant time and effort trying, but never succeeding, to say my (admittedly vowel-deficient) name correctly. My sectionmates rallied behind me in support,[4] turning the trauma into a wonderful memory that I will forever hold dear. In dedication to them, I used this variation of my last name during my first year on the Court, serving as a reminder of how far I’d come since that fateful day.


Then one day, the name was ripped away from me. At the start of the 2018–19 school year, Chief Justice VanderMeulen decided using my given last name, Schmalzl, was “easier” and “good for the paper.” As his powerless minion, I sat in silence at his decision. Until now. There’s a new sheriff in town, and I’m taking my name back.


The former Chief Justice raises several defenses to his decisions, which I address in turn.






To start, VanderMeulen contends that I don’t have jurisdiction over a case in which I am a party due to ancient principles of the common law,[5] blah blah blah. My response is two-fold. First, VanderMeulen assumes this Court follows some version of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Such a notion is laughable, as this Court doesn’t follow any rules.[6] Second, even if there were some jurisdictional issue, it is well known that our readers are deeply dedicated to frequent opinions issued by this Petty Court. And because this Court has received no recent complaints to decide upon, I can do whatever I want. And even if we had received recent complaints, I still can do whatever I want. I’m the boss. Defense denied.




Next, VanderMeulen claims he had “good policy reasons” for forcing me to change my name. He claims that Shmazzle was “unrecognizable” and “no one would know who [I was],” and that therefore my good name would be wasted as a recruiting tool. To this I ask: Really? You think people can’t connect “Shmazzle” and “Schmalzl”? We’re at a top-ten law school for goodness sake, give these people some credit.[7]


Additionally, I would like to point out that other justices on this Court have used “unrecognizable” names and were not forced to change their identities. While I only know of just one, it’s a pretty good one and I rely heavily on it as precedent. Justice ScaLIA, Lia-Michelle Keane ’18, was a true inspiration to the creative minds among us. People may not have known instantly who she was, but man could she issue a damn good opinion. To force me to change my name forever is to insult the incredible minds of those who came before us. For this, I will not stand.




Finally, the dearly departed Chief states some garbage about how it’s “not a big deal” and that I should just “calm down.” [Please note that the defendant vehemently denies stating such a defense. While this Court acknowledges that he did not actually make these statements, I am on my soap box and feel the need to address all men who feel that telling a woman to “calm down” is ever, in any circumstance, a good idea. Plus, if SCOTUS can drone on about pointless topics in its opinions, then this Court certainly can too.]


This Court, in its official capacity, refutes this argument and urges VanderMeulen/all men to consider how foolish it is to tell a woman to “calm down.” Women are always calm, rational, correct, and should never be questioned. See Goluboff, Kendrick, and All the Inspirational Women Who Run All the Dang Student Orgs v. All Those Who Try to Stand in Their Way, 798 U.Va. 606 (2016). VanderMeulen should carry this tidbit of wisdom with him for the rest of his days or else risk a life of conflict with all the badass, independent women who don’t need no man to tell them what to do.




In conclusion, the Court hereby orders that I change my name back to what it is meant to be: Justice Shmazzle. Further, this Court enjoins Justice VanderMeulen from mentioning the word “dairy” for 48 hours as punitive damages for his wrongs against this Court. Seriously, the dairy jokes are udderly embarrassing and really could be beefed up a bit. He can no longer steer the paper with his silly milk references.


Petitioner’s (aka my) prayer for relief is hereby GRANTED.


It’s good to be Queen.


It is so ordered.


Justice VanderMeulen, dissenting.


I’ll admit I didn’t think out the whole “force your likely successor to change her court name” thing as well as I should have.



[1] May his soul rest in peace.

[2] I would help the others, but TBH I don’t think anyone but me cared because they “liked” and “respected” Mr. VanderMeulen. While I withhold judgment of my learned colleagues, I disagree with such kind feelings toward the tyrant.

[3] Who loves mental furniture.

[4] Section Ayeee foreverrrrr.

[5] He uses in his brief the extremely pretentious Latin phrase “Nemo judex in causa sua” which only makes us like him less.

[6] Except, of course, Petty Rule of Civil Procedure 1: “We do what we want.”

[7]  Please note that the Court does not heavily weigh the actions of students who participate in Dandelion when it makes this statement regarding everyone’s intellectual abilities.

Professor Lunch: Doran Talks Life and Love in Rare Interview

Kimberly Hopkin ‘19
ANG Emeritus

            Law Weekly staff received several requests to quote Professor Michael Doran this year, but due to a previous agreement, we are unable to print quotes from his classroom or hallway banter in an effort to “keep Doran employed.” After weeks of imploring the good professor, however, the Law Weekly was granted the rare opportunity to not only question him on his viewpoints but also quote those viewpoints for the Law School to see. What a rush.

Professor Michael Doran sits down with students for faculty lunch. Photo credit:

Professor Michael Doran sits down with students for faculty lunch. Photo credit:

            If you haven’t had the pleasure of taking a class taught by Professon Doran, allow me to give you a quick bio. Professor Doran graduated with a B.A. in Classics and Philosophy from Wesleyan University in 1988 before earning his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1991.[1] Then, Professor Doran married the love of his life, who he insists must not be aware of her many other options, and clerked for the Eastern District of New York under Judge I. Leo Glasser. His clerkship was far from boring, however, as he spent the better part of a year about ten feet from mafia boss, John Gotti, watching his mood sour as his trial progressed.

            After his clerkship, Professor Doran joined Caplin & Drysdale’s Washington, D.C. office, working mostly in federal tax law and federal pension law. A few months before becoming eligible for partner, Professor Doran applied and was accepted to join the Treasury Department in the Office of Tax Policy in 1998. While certainly rewarding, Professor Doran remembers the stressful experience working for a divided government with the Clinton Administration butting heads with a Republican-led Congress. After about a year and a half, Professor Doran returned to Caplin & Drysdale and made partner. In 2002, Professor Doran returned to the Office of Tax Policy, but this time under a Republican Administration and Congress. This experience was different; the united government had the ability to pass clean reform acts without worrying about pandering for across-the-aisle votes. In 2004, shortly after Professor Doran left, Congress passed the Pension Reform Act of 2004, which Professor Doran spent the better part of a year working on. When Professor Doran returned to Caplin & Drysdale, they encouraged him to apply for academic jobs.[2]

            Professor Doran was accepted as an Associate Professor at UVA Law in 2005. He taught property law and tax law as well as the ethics of tax law. When hired originally, he felt that tax lawyers owe a duty not only to their client but also to the tax system as a whole. His views have moderated from this position, but he still acknowledges that tax lawyers have a unique conflict of interest that differs from lawyers practicing in other areas of law. In order to be closer to his family while his kids attended high school, Professor Doran then made the “biggest mistake of [his] career” and accepted a tenured position at Georgetown Law in 2009.[3] While his family certainly appreciated having him around more often, Professor Doran missed the faculty and scholarship at UVA. When the opportunity arose to return in 2014, Professor Doran accepted wholeheartedly and was welcomed back.[4]  

            When asked how being named a “Tax Star” in one of UVA Law’s promotional articles has changed him, Professor Doran humbly responded that he has doubled his speaker engagement fees and curtailed office hours. Just kidding––he didn’t even know that the article existed. Professor Doran credits his thriving scholarship to the tax law faculty here, saying they are the real strength of UVA Law. While Professor Doran has previously written about the ineffectiveness of executive compensation caps, the stabilizing nature of incidental soft fiscal policy entrenchment, and the motivations behind deferred managerial compensation, his upcoming article focuses on jurisdictional issues in Native American law and should be published later this year.[5] Professor Doran views scholarship as successful not based off placement or number of citations but instead on whether or not the work has “advanced the ball” by influencing thought or policy.

            In the classroom, Professor Doran is lively and hilarious.[6] Several students have signed up for Employee Benefits Law despite not having any interest in the subject matter simply because of his classroom presence and fair grading standards. This high enrollment is also why the Law School has allowed Professor Doran to take on “passion projects” such as teaching Native American or Roman law. However, true to his personality, Professor Doran still considers the two summers he spent as a dishwasher in a restaurant in the Seattle Airport as the most fun job he’s ever had. We hope he stays at UVA Law forever.

            When asked what he wants the readers of Law Weekly to know, Professor Doran gave a piece of profound and insightful advice: “[REDACTED.]”  

[1] No, he did not play any drinking games with Justice Kavanaugh. I asked.

[2] At this point, Doran’s wife lost hope that Doran could “keep a job” for more than three years.

[3] We agree – how dare you leave us??

[4] We have forgiven him for leaving us and firmly, yet politely, asked him not to do it again. Seeing how he is approaching the longest he’s ever stayed in one job, I think we made our point clear.

[5] Without any sarcasm, this sounds like a page turner. If Professor Doran offers Native American law again, you should take it because the body of law is quite interesting and the concepts are broadly applicable.

[6] You’ll have to enroll in order to hear the “off the record” stories he told at lunch. Rest assured, he spilled some hot tea in his signature captivating yet-self-deprecating style.   

Hot Bench: Trina Rizzo '19

Trina Rizzo ‘19

Trina Rizzo ‘19

Trina Rizzo ‘19

What are you most excited for during your last semester in Charlottesville? 

          Moving out of The Pavilion.

What is your favorite word?  


Where did you grow up? 

          Anna Maria Island, FL. It’s a tiny barrier island off the west coast with white sand beaches. So, yeah, you could say my life’s been pretty hard.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

          My grandma used to make seafood soup noodles on everyone’s birthday (in Chinese culture, eating noodles on your birthday brings good luck and longevity), but now that I’ve moved, she makes them for me whenever I come home.

What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school? 

          Singing with Gunners N’ Roses! We’ve got shows February 28, March 23, April 6, and April 20!

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

          Los Angeles, because my sister lives there and takes me to cool bars where you enter through a refrigerator.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

              I only eat two breakfasts: Greek yogurt if I’m lazy or a spinach and cheese omelette if I’m feeling *gourmet*.

What’s your most interesting two-truths-and-a-lie? (And what’s the lie?)

              1. I sang the national anthem for the Oakland A’s; 2. I’ve never eaten a Reese’s cup; 3. I had a guinea pig named Tom Hanks. (1 is the lie: I sang for the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Tampa Bay Rays).

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

              An air-conditioned bungalow over the water that’s in the Magic Kingdom but also walking distance to a Trader Joe’s. Y’know, something simple.

What’s your least favorite sound?

          Country music .

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

          AirPods. I feel liberated.

Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

          Britney b*tch.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

              Lady Gaga. #basic

What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

              A day at the wineries: all the glamour of Napa at half the price.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?


What’s your spirit animal?

            A shiba inu, according to Buzzfeed.

What’s your favorite food?

            Usually I would say sushi, but I’m rethinking my life choices after I ordered sushi takeout for myself, and they gave me 3 pairs of chopsticks… I could feel their judgment with every bite…

If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?

            I’d probably do something insane like build a mini mansion for my dog a la Paris Hilton.

Do you have any pets?

            I have a 7-year-old yorkie named Luke! I rescued him this year, he’s 3.5 lbs, has 4 teeth, and I would die for him. @trinarizzo for photos <3

Where is a place you haven’t been but want to travel to?

            I want to see the Great Barrier Reef before all the coral dies :( but I also want to visit China with my grandparents and learn about their lives there before they immigrated to the United States.

What are the 7 wonders of the law school?

            John Dao is all of them.

Court of Petty Appeals: Class of 2019 v. Impending Graduation

Class of 2019 v. Impending Graduation

889 U.Va. 13 (2019)

VanderMeulen, C. J., announced the opinion of the Court in which Hopkin, Malkowski, and Dostal, JJ., joined. Jani, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Chief Justice VanderMeulen, one final time, for the Court.

The sudden realization that they must graduate in three months’ time swept through the 3L class this week, leading members of that class to file a suit seeking to enjoin said graduation and the final exams preceding it. Plaintiff class complains its members “aren’t ready at all to take finals,” “have ZERO idea what the bar exam even is,” and “can’t go on without Mandy in [their] lives.”

This case comes to us on appeal from the Court of Petty Complaints, where Judge Joby dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint, writing, “You kids are really sweet, but it’s time you got out there into the world and started donating to the Law School.” We now affirm.


All good things must come to an end. See, e.g., Lunchtime. But see, e.g., Libel—which never, in fact, ends. So it must be with the Class of 2019’s time at the University of Virginia School of Law. Plaintiffs—112 members of the 3L class, not including JD/MBAs—complain that the end of law school and coming of such awful things as finals, the graduation reception’s “summer cocktail attire,” and a mind-numbing summer filled with no-drinks bar review entitles them to an injunction against this parade of horribles.

Plaintiffs must have hired Professor Jeffries to be their lawyer or something because they make a whole lot of claims about declaratory relief and use the word “equitable” a lot. Fed Courts was scary so I don’t remember a lot of that and will just pretend I didn’t read it. The other thing plaintiffs talk about is due process and I do know that, thank goodness.

They claim that graduation being foisted upon them is a violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. In support of that proposition, they cite Ballenger v. 2Ls, 645 U.Va. 1 (1994), in which this Court held that 2Ls can’t be made to go through OGI without some kind of hearing and a right to “cry their little hearts out,” and Haden v. Lisa, 778 U.Va. 888 (2015), in which the Court declared the end of sweet snacks in the Snack Office a cognizable loss for which plaintiffs could sue.


Plaintiffs misread our precedents. While it is true that no one can be forced to interview for jobs without being given a hearing, a proper hankie, and a shoulder “of ample width” to cry on, there can be no analogy between OGI and graduation. Defendant Graduation, represented by Deans Goluboff, Kendrick, Davies, and Donovan (aka the Four Horsemen), insists that while OGI is “optional,” there is in fact “no place to put you if you don’t graduate” and “this is all very silly.” Much though it pains us to agree with the literal embodiment of evil, we must agree with the Four Horsemen. Post-law-school summer life sounds pretty not fun, we agree. And none of the 3L members of this Court are ready to be real adults yet; Justice Malkowski informs us that the post-law-school TV-watching environment is very bleak indeed.

But the Four Horsemen make a good point: They did send that “Apply for Graduation” email notifying all 3Ls of the need to, in their words, “get the hell out of here and into some kind of livelihood for once in your life.” The email may not have been very long; it certainly wasn’t very interesting. But we find that the cursory “apply for graduation” email suffices for process allotted to plaintiffs before their dreams were seized from them.

Besides, not everyone is sad to graduate. Amici calling themselves “THree-Els Enjoying Nearing Doom” posit to us that they “can’t wait to leave this hellhole” and that they’re “really over seeing Vineyard Vines shit.” With such a divide in the 3L class, we cannot in good conscience rule that a group of sentimental slackers like plaintiffs needn’t graduate.

The lower court’s ruling is AFFIRMED.

Also, this is my final decision as Chief Justice. I have been unceremoniously deposed from the bench by a rowdy, irreverent bunch of 2Ls. They’ve forced me into early retirement without even a ceremonial gavel to show for it. Protest letters may be sent to

It is so ordered.

Justice Jani, dissenting.

I dissent from my colleague’s trauma-addled decision. The Court accuses plaintiffs of misreading our precedents, but it is they who have misconstrued our august decisions. How could the Court forget SBA v. NGSL, 445 U.Va. 256 (1993), which held that softball season may not be cancelled without paying the student body in kegs for their loss? Or Roberts v. Scott, 598 U.Va. 100 (1998), which declared “fundamental” the right to a hearing before the administration could censor Libel productions?

I can reach no other conclusion than that my Brother VanderMeulen and his cronies do not, in fact, lament their fast-approaching graduation, but in fact that they relish it, the sick fiends. Personally, as a Darden student, I will be here another year, so I needn’t yet face the black abyss of existential dread my colleagues now feel. And when I do, there will be plenty of Xanax and expensive liquor to get me through it.

Accordingly, I dissent.

Letters to the Editor: 2/20/19

“I Hate The Economist”
Thoughts from a Law Weekly guest writer
Ben Lucy ’20


It has gradually occurred to me that I will criticize The Economist, the only news publication that I both hate and pay money to read.


I usually kind of enjoy the publication, the same way I enjoy The American Conservative, because a lot of smart people work there and they’re generally more libertarian, so nowadays there’s this impulse to say things that are, like, shocking to the neoliberalcon establishment or whatever, and I need those kinds of things to survive. So we get along fairly well. 


This weekend I made the mistake of reading “How to deal with the mullahs” from the February 9 edition. (I love how they don’t capitalize words in their titles. So edgy! So liberated!)


Synopsis: To get Iran to do what would be best for the writers of The Economist, “America needs to mix firmness with pragmatism…” Yeah, so basically another completely meaningless article by these status-quo propaganda hacks, but it sets some norms that I think are conversation-worthy even though the substance of the piece is not.


Anyways, sometimes The Economist writes these sentences, and they seem like they’re stating facts, but then if you think about it you’re like wait a second (1) some British people definitely wrote this sentence, ugh they’re the worst and (2) definitely some of them were high-fiving when they finally wrote this sentence and (3) my God—they, an alleged news organization, have written this sentence exactly as if they were reporting facts, but really it’s just a bunch of highly controversial conjectural nonsense! Again!


“If Iran casts off the JCPOA’s nuclear constraints, America and Israel will have to choose between the risk of Iran building a nuclear bomb and the dangers of a bombing campaign to stop it.”


That’s like saying, “If that bus crosses the street, I will have to choose between the risk of also crossing the street or pulling out my gun and declaring that no one is crossing this street anymore.” Like yeah, okay, sure, maybe? But isn’t it weird to say? Are they dichotomous? Is it clear that one or the other is the only solution?


From another angle: pretend I’m a machine learning algorithm that literally learned to read from this article. Even I know that “the JCPOA” means “Mr. Obama’s accord,” and that President Trump “abandoned Barack Obama’s nuclear deal in favour of tight sanctions.”[1] So like, as a strictly logical computer, I have to ask, are you aware that the “JCPOA’s nuclear constraints” have already been lifted? Okay, maybe I’m an algorithm that also understands basic contracts, but yeah this is some pretty one-sided propaganda nonsense.


I get that the Economist is run by a crack team of like 500 MI6/CIA college interns from conservative economics and political science departments around the world, but I will say unabashedly that it unnerves me how every article is reported like it’s God’s truth without a name attributed to it. Maybe there’s like a special British way that you attribute names to things and I’m just not looking in the right place, but it’s weird. Anyways, true story, I wrote in to my hometown newspaper one time the criticize its editorial board for criticizing Robert Bentley (years before the whole he-was-a-hypocrite thing), and I specifically called them out for not affixing their name to the attack on Bentley. My parents literally didn’t tell me what editorials were as a child. I’m embarrassed about this to this day. So I’m hesitant on this one. Like, maybe every Economist article is an editorial? If that’s the case, could the smart macro people come in and tell the PolySci people how to write?


Back in reality, it’s really frustrating that supposedly objective or mainstream news sources operate so transparently as organs of the state. Maybe next week we can talk about The Economist’s coverage of Venezuela?


[1] I have this subscription because this charming English college student called me and was like “Hey do you want some discounted The Economist” and I was like “Haha my brother-in-law is British you folks are alright yes that’d be great here’s my credit card.” He found me in America. He knows I’m in America. Why am I reading “favour”? Why can’t they tailor my user experience as closely as they apparently can tailor my prospective-user experience? Anyways, yeah, definitely not gonna renew.

Hot Bench: Sydney Mark '20

Sydney Mark ‘20

Sydney Mark ‘20

Sydney Mark ‘20

1. What are you most excited for during your spring semester in Charlottesville? 
Libel Show, obvi.

2. What is your favorite word?  
Schvitzy (Yiddish for sweaty).

3. Where did you grow up?
Raleigh, NC.

4. If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why?
––hands down. He is a lyrical genius.

5. What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school? 
Dance party in my room.

6. Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Anywhere that’s warm with sand. Can’t wait for Hawaii with some of my favorite law school people.

7. What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVA Law?
How to use all those cool Word functions that paralegals know how to use.

8. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Avocado toast with crushed red pepper.

9. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Venice (but only in a universe where it stops sinking).

10. What’s your least favorite sound? 
Nails on a chalkboard.

11. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A royal title of Sealand
––you may refer to me as Lady Sydney of Sealand.

12. Britney Spears or Christina Aquilera?

13. What is the best concert you have ever been to?
LMFAO/Ludacris/Black Eyed Peas.

14. What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?
Wineries on the weekends.

15. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be? 
Everyone would have to listen to at least one Pitbull song every day. #Dale

16. What’s your spirit animal?

17. What are your favorite foods?
Sushi, cookie dough, and gummy bears.

18. If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
Buy a lot of aromatherapy candles.

19. If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn?
How to code.

20. What would be the title of your autobiography?

21. Where is a place you haven’t been but want to travel to?
New Zealand.

22. Oxford comma or nah?
HUNDY P, Oxford comma.

23. Coke or Pepsi?
Diet Coke and anything else is wrong.

24. Where’s your favorite place in the law school?
The study room by the bookstore. It’s one of the only places you can study and spread out reaaaaaal wide and look out at Spies Garden.

25. What are you most excited for in thinking about your upcoming summer in NYC?
All of the cannoli!


Hot Bench: Ryan Poche '19

Ryan Poche ‘19

Have you ever had a nickname?


Where did you grow up?

A small town in Southwest Louisiana right on the Gulf called Erath (as popularized by True Detective season one).

What is your favorite word?


What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

My wife’s family owns a seafood restaurant back home and I eat probably three dozen charbroiled oysters each time I stop by. 

If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why?

Bradley Cooper seems like the kind of celebrity you would want to have a beer with.

What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school? 

I love to cook Cajun food from back home (my parents are incredibly generous and send me a few key ingredients every couple of weeks). My wife and I love to go to the movies and probably contributed to MoviePass’s financial woes last year. Check out They Shall Not Grow Old while it’s still on the big screen!

Where is your favorite place to vacation?


What’s your least favorite sound?

My Duo mobile app saying “Thank You” because I have not figured out how to text my authentication instead of calling.

If you owned a sports team, what/who would be the mascot?

The Pelican’s King Cake Baby is terrifying enough to be a standalone mascot.

Blueberries or strawberries?

Strawberries are more multifaceted.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

A Concert for Charlottesville was beautiful.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

I love to take advantage of the C’ville hiking scene.

Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?


What’s your favorite food(s)?

Charlottesville Thai takeout has a soft spot in my heart.

If you had to pick one song to play non-stop in the background of your life, what would it be?

Any Lil Wayne song would give me equal parts introspection and hype.

What’s the longest. you’ve gone without sleep and why?

Probably two and a half days during Mardi Gras Freshman year at Tulane because New Orleans doesn’t really let you stop.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?

Pay off my student loans and buy out all of the crawfish farmers in Louisiana to create a monopoly (they’re sitting on a gold mine if they would collude).

If you could be in the winter Olympics, which sport would you compete in?

The Biathlon where skiers race and shoot a rifle once in a while looks incredibly fun.

How can Law Weekly improve?

Daniel Grill has asked me if I have seen the Howard Schultz Morning Joe interview every single day since it aired—rein him in!

Biggest Grammy upset?

Scorpion should have taken Album of the Year, no question.


Letters to the Editor: 2/13/19

“Everyday People” Doesn’t Show My Everyday Reality

Alicia Penn ’19


            “Everyday People: Images of Black Life at UVA Law” is the photo exhibit currently on the second floor of the Law Library. It’s part of a cross-grounds Black History Month exhibit. However, as much as this exhibit would like you to believe it is reflective of the lives of Black people at UVA Law, it is not.


            The exhibit features several photos of Black people occupying space at UVA Law and, for the most part, the people in these photos seem to be happy. The exhibit does a good job of showing the happy moments of everyday life of Black life at UVA Law, but it falls short of showing the everyday reality of the incredibly exhausting experience of being Black at UVA Law.


            To be Black at UVA Law means choosing your battles when your peers say problematic things in class; it is deciding whether to prioritize your mental health over getting into an argument in Constitutional Law; and it is knowing that Black people are incredibly underrepresented in the student body and in the faculty.


            I think the best way I can convey the daily feeling I have for you is this: One of the speakers at the town hall we held after Jason Kessler’s first visit to the Law School said when she learned Jason Kessler was here, she simply said, “Oh, just another white supremacist in the library.” That resonated so deeply with me. Because truthfully, so many of my peers are complicit and benefit from the white supremacy at the roots of this school. I am very aware that this institution was not built for me. I am aware that the system was not created with me or people like me in mind. Not only that, but my peers have engaged in acts that let me know this place still is not for me: from uttering the n-word in public to engaging in microaggressions.


            The school loves to pretend we are all at an equal level—that everything is so fair. After all, we all are on the same curve. But imagine constantly processing these things I have just described while studying to take exams next to people who are not affected by any of these things at all. Imagine being shaken to your core by these events and knowing you are graded on a curve with someone who does not even see the problem. It is so incredibly exhausting, y’all—it is not fun, it is not all smiles.


            Now, I do not expect a photo exhibit to be able to display all of these complex and nuanced feelings—that is a lot to ask. But what we currently have feels dishonest and false. It feels like the school is using my face as part of a publicity stunt to show how great Black people have it here. It feels exploitative. I do not subscribe to this narrative that Black life at UVA Law is great. Personally, I have not been particularly happy for most of my time at UVA Law. I have never felt my race more than while attending UVA Law. But that is not the takeaway you get from this exhibit.


            I am happy that the Law Library is doing something to commemorate Black History Month because Black History Month is important and we do not do nearly enough to celebrate it. And I really like taking a look at the history of Black life at UVA Law, but the execution needs improvement. As the exhibit stands currently, it is not an exhibit about the reality of Black life at UVA Law. It is at most reflective of an outsider looking in on Black life at UVA Law.

Hot Bench: Anna Bobrow '20

Anna Bobrow ‘20

Anna Bobrow.jpg

What are you most excited for during your 2L spring in Charlottesville? 

I feel like I’m a latecomer to getting out and exploring the great things that the town has to offer, so I’m excited to go to more vineyards, cideries, UVA baseball games, and hikes.


What is your favorite word?



What would you pick to be your last meal and why?

My mom’s macaroni and cheese, with a side of her meatloaf and this delicious chocolate pie she makes in the summer for dessert. If it has to be my last meal, I want the food to be made with love and evoke good memories.


If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why?

Roger Federer. Not only is he an amazing tennis player, but his charitable work is admirable.


Funniest person in the law school?

Griffin Peeples ’20. He’s also the best dancer in the Law School.


What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school?

Exercise. Find me at the North Grounds Rec Center, running outside, or on a hike.


What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVA Law?

The qualities and people that made you successful before law school are the same things that will make you successful during law school.


What is the most interesting thing/most fun fact about you?

I’ve seen Shaggy in concert…in Zanzibar.


(I volunteered with a nonprofit in Zanzibar one summer in college, and he was the headliner at the Zanzibar International Film Festival’s concert. It was a crazy concert: We paid $5 for VIP tickets and the venue was an old Omani fort built in 1699. There were twelve warm-up acts by local performers, Shaggy came on at 1a.m., and then played his two songs you would know (“It Wasn’t Me” and “(You’re My) Angel”) in the first five minutes, so we left right after.)


If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Why?

London. My family lived there when I was in elementary school and I would love to live there again. Easy access to Europe (let’s not talk about Brexit) and a city with tons of history, great restaurants, and theater.


What’s your least favorite sound? 

When “One Shining Moment” plays for Duke. #GoHeels #GTHD


What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

For my eighteenth birthday, my grandmother gave me a necklace that my grandfather (who died when I was a year old) gave to her when they were in the early days of their marriage. It’s a unique piece of jewelry, and I love to wear it.


What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

Recently, it’s been going swing dancing on Wednesday nights at Swing Cville on the Downtown Mall.


If you could make one law that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

Mandatory recycling and composting in every household.


Which animal are you most like?

A meerkat (like Timon from Lion King).


If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?

Claim the ticket anonymously and donate it. Depending on the amount, I would consider the benefits and negatives of working through established community nonprofits with low administrative overhead as compared to setting up a new foundation. If I got lucky enough to win the lottery, I would want to make sure the money is spent in the most efficacious and responsive way possible.


If you could have any special skill, what would it be?

I’ve always wanted to be able to play the guitar. It would come in handy at sing-a-longs and campfires, and then I could also be in a band.


Where is a place you haven’t been but want to travel to?

I’m a big tennis fan and have been to Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open, so the plan would be to go in January so I can go to the Australian Open, and then jump over to New Zealand to hike and hang out with sheep.


What would be the title of your biography?

One of my good friends suggested: “Well-Traveled Lass Takes the Road Less Traveled.” If I could live up to that biography, I’d be happy about that.


Petty Judicial Committee of the Privy Council: 1L Gunners v. The Queen

Appeal Cases

Before the

Petty Judicial Committee of the Privy Council,


 CLXXXII Victoriæ.


1L Gunners


Her Majesty the Queen.


On Appeal from the Court of Petty Appeals for the University of the Dominion of Virginia


614 P.J.C.P.C. 913, 50 Am. P. Apps. 344. (2019) 



Statement of Case.

This was an appeal from an order of the Court of Petty Appeal for the University of Virginia, (Tang, C.J., Lorenzo & Gladden, B.B.) dated January 30, 2019 and reported sub.nom. R v. 1L Gunners [2019] 23 All V.R. (Petty) 792, dismissing the appellants’ appeal against their conviction at Chad’s Term of the Virginia Assizes Petty on two counts, viz.: unlawfully effecting a public mischief in breach of the Queen’s peace and conspiracy to corrupt the public order. At the trial before Luk, B., the jury, under guidance from the learned judge, made out a special verdict which found the facts of the case thus:

 “that on the 12th January, 2019, certain 1Ls, the prisoners, were, with upperclassmen, for the first time admixed within the lecture-halls. That, on the first day of classes, they were free to find seats among their fellows. That, on the second day of lectures, they remained in these seats. That notwithstanding they did among themselves at divers times upon these dates converse in confidence to change their seats within the halls. That the prisoners had spoken among themselves of worry at their grades and job-placements, and suggested that it would be better to take the seats of their classmates that their grades might be saved. That the prisoners felt they would improve their seats by so doing. That upon the third day, the prisoners having in secret arranged among themselves so to do, they contrived to arrive well before the beginning of the next class within the lecture-halls mentioned in the particulars of the offence and to sit upon certain places claimed by the upperclassmen. That upon the arrival of the upperclassmen they declined to move from these new seats, and with sullen looks refused to be budged. That upon the request of the upperclassmen for them to move they demurred impudently. That upon that day the seating-chart was circulated. That an indictment was thereupon drawn against them and they were carried to Scoco to be committed for trial. That under these circumstances there appeared to the prisoners every probability that unless they then changed their seats or very soon changed their seats, they would be unable to sit among their friends and that their grades would suffer. But whether upon the whole matter the jurors may find, that the taking of the seats be public mischief and conspiracy to corrupt the public order, the jurors are ignorant, and pray the advice of the Court thereupon, and if upon the whole matter the Court say that the taking of the seats be public mischief and conspiracy to corrupt the public order, then the jurors say that the gunners were each guilty of the said petty-misdemeanour and conspiracy as alleged in the indictment.” The learned Judge then ordered the Assizes adjourned until January 20. Upon the application of the Crown they were again adjourned until February and the case ordered argued before a Court of five judges; on the verdict of the jury sentence of transportation for life being passed, special leave was given to appeal to the Court of Petty Appeals and thence to the Petty Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.


January 31. Dame L. Welch A.G., Serj’t., (M. Schmid, Q.C., and Luevano, with her), appeared for the Crown.

The record having been read,

 Sir S. Pickett, Q.C., (W. Palmer, Q.C. and Grill, with him), for the appellants objected, first, to the finding of a special verdict in the case below, both facts and conclusions of law ordinarily being within the ambit of a jury properly impanelled, second, that the special verdict, though not unknown to the laws of England, is, by the long span that has elapsed between its last invocation, become obsolescent, and as such is come into implicit antinomy with the Judicature Article of the British Virginia (Constitution) Act (32 Geo. III c.VII), which specifies “at Lawe and Equity, tryal by Jury, in accordance with the Usages of our Lawes and Statutes.” Third, that what is styled in the indictment a “conspiracy to corrupt the public order” is unknown to the common law, and it was not therefore for the learned judges to find in the facts of this case that the appellants were guilty of the offence. That so to find was contradictious with the rule of law and an ex post facto imposition of punishment for an offence hitherto unknown; that no law forbade early arrival in classrooms to secure by priority a favourable seat, and to do so could not be ruled an offence against public order, and an agreement to do so could be no conspiracy against it.

Dame L. Welch A.G., for the Crown. As to the first two points, the special verdict is of well-attested form and was invoked correctly in this instance. [She cited R. v. Washington, 2 Am. P. Apps. 122 (1778), Marsh’s Case, Walsh, C.P.E. 887 (1763), R. v Brown, 3 Terr. P. Reps. 235 (1859).]  Though not often in usage in these years, it cannot be shewn on any authority that it has been explicitly overruled either within Britain or in her Dominions. That, pace the learned counsel for the appellants, reference made by the Constitution Act to “the Usages of Our Lawes and Statutes” subjects any understanding of that document to the authority of the English common law, and a verdict found according to the law of Britain must perforce go as good law in Virginia. As to the third point, that the common law would be a faithless watchman if it were not within the power of the learned judge to apply the general principles which underly it to acts hitherto unattested. [She cited Shaw v. D.P.P, HL 4 May 1961 & R. v. Manley, 1 K.B. 529, 1933] That these principles were certainly offended by the secret arrangements of which the appellants’ conduct gives tangible evidence, &c.

[Their Lordships intimated that the above points taken on behalf of the appellants were untenable.]


Sir S. Pickett, Q.C., for the appellants. With regard to the substantial question in the case, on the contrary to the Crown’s contention, it is popularly recognized in the custom of the country that until the moment of the actual circulation of the seating-chart, that the place of seating in a lecture is not assigned. In the alternative, when under a necessity, set seats may be moved or exchanged. That, in fact, the gunners here were under that necessity, they having a reasonable fear that they would not be able to sit with their friends, indolently whisper pompous commentary on the lectures from seat to seat and that their grades might reasonably have been adversely affected thereby. That in 1L spring this necessity was of particularly compelling character.

[He was stopped.]

Dame L. Welch, A.G., for the Crown.

To this point, custom in this case has been superseded by statute, the Seating Chart (Assigned Class Seats) Act, (127 Vict. c. XIV). Although the seating chart may not be distributed until the third meeting of a class or later, new seats in a class may be taken no later than the second meeting. That no necessity could reasonably be adduced from the intuitions of the appellants; that most students receive a B+ average and are gainfully employed following graduation; that no doubt can be advanced against the proposition that cliques tend to irritation and offence to the public order.


[Their Lordships took time for consideration]


February 5. The judgement of the Council (Lord Ranzini, C.J., van der Meulen, Zablocki, JJ., Malkowski, Schmalzl, BB.) was delivered by

Lord Ranzini, C.J. The appellants, styled the “gunners” of the 1L class, were indicted shortly after the first of this year for conspiring among themselves to take by subtlety and convert to their own usage the preferable seats of divers members of the upper classes. They were tried before the learned Baron Luk at Scoco on the 15th of January, and through the careful direction of my learned Sister, a special verdict was returned, whose legal effect, having been twice disputed, it falls to us finally to pronounce a judgement upon.

The special verdict, as it has at length come before us, is as follows: [His Lordship read out the special verdict as set out supra.]

From these facts, it appears sufficiently certain that these were indeed gunners, and that they felt themselves under a powerful compulsion to obtain for themselves the seats which, at the first and second meetings of their classes, chance had denied them. Yet nevertheless it is clear that in changing their seats they incommoded those in whom a claim upon those places had already inhered.

Learned counsel for the appellants have made some point of the principle of legality as applied to the laws of the Dominion of Virginia and certain implied liberties which emerge from nice distinctions within the Act of Constitution and the English common law, to which the Attorney General has ably replied. These are of no moment. Before this bench is a matter in petty law, to which the First Principle of that law applies—We shall do what we want. The slights and wrongs in which the petty law deals are trivial in their apparent magnitude but would fatally unwind the warp and weft of our civilisation if left without their lawful challenge. The breadth awarded our discretion in these matters is the appointed check to these ills.

Upon the substance of this case the learned counsel for the appellants has advanced that a defence of necessity attaches to their acts. This too cannot––must not—detain us. Man is, by barbarous nature, born a casuist, but the law in its noble essence must have no truck with special pleading. Such a principle, once admitted, would be made a cloak for the impulsive evil that is in men’s souls. Necessity can never substitute for justice before this bar. No judge can tread the path of the law who strays from it on so weak a principle. True, we set up standards we ourselves too often cannot reach. But it is the prerogative, instead, of the Sovereign to exercise mercy when the terrible equity of the law lies too heavy on its subjects. Their Lordships will therefore humbly advise Her Majesty that the judgments appealed from ought to be confirmed, and the appeal dismissed, and that sentence of transportation be commuted to mild public ridicule.


Hot Bench: Chinny Sharma '19

Chinny Sharma ‘19

Chinny Sharma ‘19

Chinny Sharma ‘19

Good morning, Chinny! Welcome to the Hot Bench, where we’re happy to interview students at the time best for them, even if it’s 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday! Let’s get started.


Chinny, I hear that you wake up really early in the morning. How early is early?

Probably about five in the morning. I am a disgusting morning person. But on weekends, I sleep until a lofty six or seven. I would like to definitely throw W. Campbell Haynes ’19 under the bus, because he wakes up just as early if not earlier. Just gonna use the microphone while I have it.


Okay, but when do you go to sleep?

Sleep’s not a thing I’m good at, but I’m getting better at it. This semester I’m definitely trying to hit some grandma bedtimes, like around 10 p.m.


“Trying” as in “not succeeding”?

Not so much, but trying. Now that the Digital Democracy Symposium is over, I’m definitely going to try out this whole 3LOL thing.


So what’s the first thing you do at that god-awful time, five in the morning?

Take out my dog who I’m fostering. You know, it’s great to go home and have a bud who’s so excited to see you. But it’s a lot; single parenting is really hard.


Why did you decide to come to law school?

I used to be the founder of a tech start-up. I came to law school because, while I was really interested in coding, the question I was most interested in was whether we ought to be building the things we were building. At that point, I had gotten in to UVA and had been deferring. Eventually, Cordell was like, “Hey, are you going to come?” and I finally said yea, I think I have a reason to go to law school.


How long were you in tech?

I started off as a consultant on the analytics team at Deloitte and they were chill, but they didn’t teach me everything I wanted to know. I taught myself how to code, and at some point a friend and I broke off and started our own start-up, focusing on collecting data in low latency and low connectivity environments. The start-up went well, but there was a point when my bank account hit thirty-eight cents and I ate a lot of ramen.


At what point during the start-up were you considering law school?

About eight or nine months in, I started to realize that I wasn’t going to be taken seriously without better cards in my hand. I don’t think it was justified, at all, but when you’re a woman in tech, especially an English major, people just assume you’re punching above your weight class and that you’re probably on the sales team, and not an actual coder.


Where did you grow up?

New York; I never say Westchester because nobody likes Westchester.



It’s a pretty homogenous community.


What’s one thing you hope to accomplish here at law school?

Have LIST maintain its current momentum and have the club gain enough prominence that the school hires more tech-focused professors, or our current professors teach more classes about technology law.


Chinny points at my morning bagel; is that hummus on a bagel?



That’s freaking amazing. Hummus is like one of those things like carrots; there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.


I think you can definitely have too many carrots.

No! I can eat an entire bag of baby carrots…is that weird?


No, that’s not too weird.

Yea, so half the bag I’ll eat with hummus and then the other half I’ll eat with peanut butter.


Internal Screaming.

[Redacted – a conversation about whether peanut butter deserves to be called butter when hummus is not called chickpea butter…something something lipids.]

I’m gonna give up (on googling lipids). This is why I didn’t become a doctor like my parents wanted.


Were your parents set on your becoming a doctor?

Set, more like hanging their every hope and dream on it. Lawyers rank far below doctors in my parents’ eyes, but they eventually came around!


What is your favorite place in Charlottesville?

Ridge Road, it’s right off of Garth and it’s a four-mile dirt road that I run regularly. It’s all horse farms and big estates. The second-tier goal of my running is to come across a kindly old man who will adopt me and leave me his horse farm. It’s farfetched but it could happen.


Deepest, darkest fear?

Having net negative impact on the people I care the most about around me.


Anti-stress hobby?




When somebody, over email, gets the Mr. or Mrs. wrong. We live in the Internet Age, look it up! (Also, when people try to talk to me when I have my headphones on. I’ve deployed the universal signal of leave me alone, people!)


What’s a movie that left an impression on you?

My Cousin Vinny.


Favorite word?



Favorite food?

Peanut Butter.


I’m scared to ask, but what else do you eat with peanut butter?

What don’t I eat with peanut butter? It’s a versatile food that can be eaten with everything. Well, maybe not capsicum or potatoes––that would be weird. But I haven’t tried it yet, so maybe it wouldn’t be weird.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Wyoming…yea, I feel good about that.


Favorite sound?

Fire crackling…in Wyoming.


If you could ask yourself a question 10 years in the future, what would you ask? 

How’s Wyoming?


If you could tell yourself something on the first day of law school that you know now, what would it be?

You should have listened to the best advice you ever got, which was from George Carotenuto, who said, “Just say no to everything.” I think as law students there are a lot of things we think we should do, and we end up being too busy to do the things we really want to.

Court of Petty Appeals: Class of 2021 v. Davies

Class of 2021 v. Davies

918 U.Va. 34 (2019)


VanderMeulen, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Schmalzl, and Jani JJ., joined. Jani, J., filed a concurring opinion. Hopkin, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Malkowski, J., joined.


Chief Justice VanderMeulen delivered the opinion of the Court.

“Cookies and coffee are the birthright of every student of the law.” This maxim, as old as the petty common law itself, is alternatively attributed to Lord Blackstone, Chief Justice Haden, and Lisa. Whatever its origin, it is the north star of this Court’s cookie-and-coffee jurisprudence, which must today examine whether the end of the free WB coffee constitutes a deprivation of the 1Ls’ right to due process.


Members of the UVA Law Class of 2021 brought this case as a class action. In their complaint before the Court of Petty Claims, plaintiffs alleged the facts as follows: Beginning in August of 2018, the Law School administration (represented in this suit by Dean Sarah Davies) began setting out coffee “of notable quality” alongside real half-and-half[1] and warm cookies on Friday around 11:30 a.m. This program of coffee and cookies was especially for the 1Ls, who—in a sign of their coddling—all apparently ended class by 11:30 a.m. on Fridays, but was also enjoyed by a phalanx of greedy upperclassmen unfortunate enough to have classes on Fridays. Now, the class claims, the deal has apparently been altered. Instead of cookies with hot coffee and real, creamy half-and-half,[2] plaintiffs are left with . . . just delicious warm cookies, left to scavenge for coffee elsewhere in the Law School.

Plaintiffs allege that the Law School administration’s decision to remove the coffee from the cookies and coffee extravaganza without a hearing violates their right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. They seek a return of the coffee and damages for last week’s shock. Presiding at the Court of Petty Claims, Judge Ferzan ruled in favor of Dean Davies’s motion to dismiss, declaring that good coffee and real, honest half-and-half, “while sublime” was not “something to which plaintiffs are entitled.” She added—tangentially but characteristically—that students should “really consider reading the cases more closely” and “stop listening to Doran about how to pronounce ‘brooch.’” Plaintiffs filed a timely appeal.




This Court’s due process jurisprudence can be traced back to the famed case of Class of 1896 v. Rotunda Fire, 96 U.Va. 219 (1895). There, in denying plaintiffs’ claim for damages against the “diabolical inferno” that “consumed the UVA Rotunda and several students’ limbs in the process of rescuing the bust of John B. Minor” in October of that year, the Court held that students’ due process has been violated only when they have suffered an “irreparable loss.” Id. at 217. See also Goluboff v. Thieves, 778 U.Va. 439 (2015) (denying Dean’s claim against “vagabonds” who stole the RFK bust because “we’re pretty sure if we ask, the Kennedy people will send us another.”).

The theme of our jurisprudence has been optimistic, declaring reparable the loss of, among other things: the Clark Hall murals; a student’s GPA; dignity at 3 at Three; three-day weekends; the sense of boundless optimism that precedes 1L year; and the sushi from ScoCo. Last year alone, we held that there could be no due process claim against the administration for the unceremonious destruction of the ash trees on the lawn (Huse v. Michael, 914 U.Va. 223), against journals for being totally useless (Pittman v. The Whole Journal Concept, Really, 916 U.Va. 879), or against GNR for not playing “Mr. Brightside” once (Grill v. Chandler, 916 U.Va. 910).

Theoretically, if an “irreparable loss” ever did occur, some sort of perfunctory, sham hearing would be necessary to deprive students of their rights. See Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970); SBA v. Davies, 755 U.Va. 111 (2016) (“Okay, now that we’ve had a hearing, you still can’t have the keg back.”). But ruling as we do, we needn’t reach that question today.



In light of this consistent jurisprudence, we have little difficulty in holding that plaintiffs have failed to make out a claim for deprivation of due process. They have not suffered the sort of “irreparable loss” this Court requires to earn damages or an injunction against the administration. We concede that the coffee and real, honest-to-God, no-imitation, pure half-and-half[3] were delicious. We even admit to waiting outside Professor Kordana’s room clamoring for the coffee and cookies’ arrival and complaining loudly when they were late, oh yes. And we do not renounce Blackstone’s/Chief Justice Haden’s/Lisa’s famous maxim. Coffee—albeit of far inferior quality and accompanied by woefully inadequate “cream”—may be found throughout the Law School.

But we invoke the Doctrine of Crotchetiness in denying plaintiffs’ claim. See, e.g., Abraham v. Kordana, 711 U.Va. 307 (1997) (“No, Kevin, that is where I sit.”). We members of the Classes of 2019 and 2020 had none of this no-class-past-11:30-on-Fridays business, much less cookies and coffee. These pampered punks can suffer through less-than-satisfactory library coffee and the horror of powdered cream like the rest of us. It builds character, like the look of disappointment in Professor Ferzan’s eyes during a cold call, or the realization that, actually, no one found your “comment” in class insightful.

If Dean Davies decides to bring back the coffee, we will, as always, salute her benevolent judgment. But we will not order it. The lower court’s order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss is affirmed.

It is so ordered.


Justice Jani, concurring.

I join my learned colleague’s opinion in full, writing separately only to note that I, a Darden student, never benefitted from the WB cookies and coffee. At Darden, we mostly do mature Darden things that don’t involve silly non-Darden things like cookies, which are the realm of the K-JD youths who inhabit this law school, not Darden. At Darden, we study serious Darden concepts and learn how to be disrupters and influencers; no one at Darden would think of complaining about something as silly as losing access to coffee, of which we have plenty at Darden. Besides, the Darden coffee is much more mature and worldly than the Law School coffee, which is delivered by people who don’t even have MBAs. Darden.


Justice Hopkin, concurring in the judgment.

I write separately from Chief Justice VanderMeulen’s judgment not because of the excellent legal analysis. Instead, I wanted to spend 250 words on one specific message: Screw the ungrateful little shits. The complaint is about no longer receiving as high quality of goods as they received last semester. Regardless of any legal doctrine (see Petty Rule of Civil Procedure1: “We do what we want.”), I am using my personal grievance about the situation as a dispositive reason to write separately.

You see, dear reader, Professor Schragger would reschedule his Urban Law class (consisting mostly of 3Ls) on Fridays whenever he wanted to “be a media darling.” Halfway through this ordeal, there would always be a cacophony of activity right outside the door. We later learned that this noise was the 1Ls gathering for their free coffee and desserts at the end of their week. That’s right—their week ended before noon on Fridays without exception. If this doesn’t enrage you, then you must be a 1L.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from growing up under the Boomer Generation, it’s that things should only get worse for younger generations. Furthermore, the blame for this, much like the housing crisis and the existence of avocado toast, should be placed firmly on that younger generation. 1Ls shouldn’t be benefiting from a better schedule. Moreover, they shouldn’t be rewarded with a gourmet meal for enduring such an easier Friday schedule.

This Court has no idea whether rainbow sprinkle cookies are being served to this class because the Court wouldn’t be caught dead in the Law School on a Friday, but the rage from sitting in Professor Bonnie’s Crim Law class at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday has not lessened over time.

[1] Not that powdered abomination in the library.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

Hot Bench: Tyler D'Ambrose

Tyler D’Ambrose ‘21

Tyler D’Ambrose ‘21

Tyler D’Ambrose ‘21

We have it on good authority that you were once considering getting a pug, why?

Funny you should ask, I was once moments away from purchasing one, but then I heard its deep, unsettling breath.

If you could own any bird in the world, what would it be?

A parrot. Wait, 20 parrots. All placed by my front door to greet visitors with a rendition of “Crazy Train.”

Do you really think we should eat mor chik’n? Why?

Yes, society is weak. Protein makes us strong.

Do you think Coldplay is emo?

No, but everything after 2000 is complete trash.

Who would win in a fight: a medieval knight or a samurai?

The samurai because they are well-trained warriors who fight for their honor.

How is Section A(B) doing?

On top of the world as usual. We are currently in the process of seeking tax-exempt status and creating our own Holy Book.

What is your opinion on the government shutdown?

I’m going to borrow one from my Dad’s playbook and say that I love both sides just the same.

Are you self-sufficient?

Nope, sorry.

Who is the coolest person you ever met?

Dean Faulk by a mile. The man has swagger.

Would you rather fight ten Dean Goluboff-sized wombats or one wombat-sized Dean Goluboff?

I’ll take my chances with the wombats; Dean Goluboff is an absolute force.

Do you sing in the shower?

Every time. I listen to Rage Against the Machine to get pumped up for my day. I sing along to the Frozen soundtrack when I know I’m going on a date later that night.

What is the best meal you ever had?

Jeff Ruby’s steak in Cincinnati. Although, FedSoc Chick-Fil-A is a close second.

What is your opinion on this season of the Bachelor?

Colton is not ready for love. But neither is Ari.

What is your opinion on pickup lines?

A fool-proof method to winning over any girl’s heart.

What is your favorite word?

Valor. Because when I hear it, I think of majestic eagles.

What are two truths and a lie about you (and what’s the lie)?

I’ve never been to Europe; I was hunted by coyotes in a forest; and my last name means “pleasant smell.”

The last one is a lie. It has no cool hidden meaning that I’m aware of.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke all the way. Coke is good for every occasion. It’s a great mixer, has a refreshing taste, and makes me happy. Pepsi is good if there’s no Coke and I haven’t had water in two days.