Grit & Focus: Women at the Top

By Katherine Mann '19

Features Editor

Serena Williams is one of the most successful tennis players in history. With thirty-nine Grand Slam titles, she is ranked third on the all-time listof all players, not just women. If you ask most people what makes Serena special, the first answer you might hear is “talent.” 

But according to Dr. Milana Hogan, Chief Legal Talent Officer at Sullivan & Cromwell, Serena might point out the thousands of hours of pure hard work she has put in during her career. “If we only tell one side of the story, then we don’t really appreciate the efforts of hard work.” Hogan spoke last week at Women at the Top, an event sponsored by Virginia Law Women. The focus of her talk was the concept of "grit", which she defined as the behavioral persistence in the face of adversity. There is no doubt about Serena’s talent, but her passionate pursuit of her goals, even when facing difficulty, sets her apart from her peers.  

Hogan recently published a book called “Grit, The Secret to Advancement,” which details the work of the Grit Project, an ABA initiative to find out what makes women lawyers successful. The idea is to uncover and teach relevant traits to women starting out in the field in order to increase their advancement, and her focus has been on the impact of grit and growth mindset on the success of women lawyers. 

The concept of grit is closely related to having a growth mindset. Hogan set out a spectrum to illustrate this concept. A person might have a “fixed” mindset, in which they believe that their inherent ability, level of talent, or intelligence is fixed, and that it can’t be improved through any kind of practice. People with a growth mindset, however, don’t believe in any ceilings for themselves. “They believe in the power of effort,” she explained. Her research showed that women lawyers fall about in the middle of this spectrum.  

Research into intelligence measures, such as SAT or LSAT scores, has shown that intelligence is far less fixed than we used to believe. Furthermore, “we’re finding that these tests are not very good predictors of success,” she said. While they can illustrate your intelligence at any one time, your mind is like a muscle. “If I decided to improve my IQ, I could,” she said.  

Hogan views mindset as a huge opportunity for improvement for advancement for women in law. For example, she noted that women react very differently to performance reviews than men do, while acknowledging that this is a generalization and that individuals are different. One of her colleagues told the story of having an overall positive review from her evaluators, but on hearing that her writing was “pretty good,” she started catastrophizingmentally spinning out scenarios where a single remark led to a career disaster. “If you don’t digest feedback in a healthy way, you’re in trouble,” Hogan said. People who are more growth-minded can resist the urge to take feedback personally and, instead, turn it into an opportunity for learning and success.  

Grit, and its focus on overcoming adversity, goes hand-in-hand with having a growth mindset. Hogan studied women in all areas of lawnonprofit, government, in-house counsel, solo practitioners, judges, and law firmsand found a statistically significant relationship between grit and various measures of success in all these domains. It is closely related to overall quality of work. She also found that while many highly successful women lawyers display a growth mindset when facing challenges, there is room for improvement. Judges have a slight edge when it comes to grit, and nonprofit lawyers have a slightly higher growth mindset than those at law firms. She also found that growth mindset is also a good predictor of seniority within an organization. 

She ended her discussion by talking about strategies for women lawyers entering the workforce. “Get comfortable with failure,” Hogan advised, even if that means hearing supposedly negative feedback in a new way. Reframing the phrase “pretty good” as an opportunity for learning allows you to improve your work product. She also encouraged women to inspire criticismin other words, to have a positive reaction to criticism in order to ensure that you continue to receive feedback. It’s important that your superiors know you want feedback so that they will freely give it to you. She also encouraged the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” strategy. Just pretending you don’t have a personal ceiling can allow you to go further. Finally, she stressed the importance of finding meaning in your work and focusing on long-term goals. She noted that if women don’t find meaning in their work, they are much more likely to leave their job. “Passion is the lynchpin of grit,” she said.  

Retention and promotion are still issues for women in the legal field. Firms and other organizations have begun to implement programs to address these needs, but women can use the strategies suggested by Hogan to complement these programs. It’s fair to say that only very few women will be able to win the Australian open while eight weeks pregnant. But women in the law should feel free to work without a ceiling.


Katherine Mann 






Welcome Admitted Students!

Welcome Admitted Students! 

Jasmine Lee, ‘20 

ASOH Co-Chair 

Lise Guerrier, ‘20 

ASOH Co-Chair 

Toccara Nelson, ‘19 

ASOH Co-Chair 

Robbie Pomeroy, ‘19 

ASOH Co-Chair 

Kirsten Jackson, ‘18 

ASOH Co-Chair 

Jill Winter, ‘18 

ASOH Co-Chair 


Do you remember the moment that you learned of your acceptance to UVa Law and the feelings that came to you at that moment? A combination of excitement, fear, and determination led you to choose Charlottesville as your home for three years, and believe it or not, you have almost completed another (if not your first) year at UVa Law. Now it is time to pave the way and welcome the Class of 2021! 

Admitted Students Open House Weekend will take place this Thursday and Friday (March 15 and 16) on the Law School grounds. On these few days we will officially introduce the admitted students to our community and show them the environment that makes UVa Law unique. Some of our current students have already been introducing the admits to our community by volunteering to serve as student liaisons, and we hope more of you can meet the admitted students and join us for the many events we have planned this weekend. 

Thursday is when most of the students arrive, and we will kick off the afternoon with tours of the building from our Virginia Law Ambassadors. There will be plenty of new faces wandering the halls, so please feel free to help if someone looks as though they need help with directionsand admitted students, please also feel free to ask a student for help as well! Thursday afternoon we will have our first large welcoming event for Admitted Students Open House with a BBQ in Scott Commons and Spies Garden at 3:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity for the admitted students to meet one another as well as current UVa Law students, so please stop by if you can on your way to or from class and meet a new face.  

After the BBQ the students will then head to Monticello for a private tour of Thomas Jefferson’s estate. To close out the evening there will be a trivia night at Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and Brewery from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Many of you have already signed up for this event so we look forward to a great night of food, drinks, trivia and some NCAA March Madness! 

Friday will be the busiest day for the admitted students, beginning with a breakfast in Caplin Pavilion and followed by a full slate of informational programs, which will give admitted students perspectives about classes, career opportunities (with the best career service department ever—actually!), financial aid, and so much more. We encourage admitted students to take advantage of any session that sounds interesting or helpful to them and to ask as many questions as possible as our faculty and staff members love getting to know more about our students! 

Lunch will be served in classrooms all over the Law School as the admitted students take a moment to hear from current UVa Law students in one of our many Student Life Panels. This is an opportunity to receive candid answers to questions such as “What does it really mean to be a student at UVa Law?” and “What if I don’t know how to play softball?” Don't worry, many of us still don’t know how to playwe’re just pretending. 

Friday will conclude with our “Supreme Alums” Reception in Caplin Pavilion, where admitted students will have the chance to meet faculty and recent Virginia Law alumni who have achieved the distinguished honor of clerking for the Supreme Court of the United States. Although this is the end of the official program, admitted students should also be on the lookout over the weekend for opportunities to meet with our affinity groups, many of which will be hosting some great events for admits so that they can become further acquainted with our current students. 

Lastly, to our admitted students: it is our pleasure to serve as your ASOH Co-Chairs this year and hopefully this weekend will show you why UVa Law has earned the nicknames of “Happiest Law School” and “The Disney World of Law Schools." UVa Law is not simply oriented around providing you with a great job (although that is a wonderful perk) but we are also committed to building strong relationships with each other, our faculty members, and our communities at large. To commit to UVa Law is not simply to commit to a school for three years; it is a commitment to a unique family for life. We hope that you take advantage of every workshop, panel, and event this weekend so that you can catch a glimpse of this with your own eyes.  We are here to help you have the best experience possible, so please do not hesitate to ask us any question or to flag us with any concern. Even if you simply would like to say hello, do not hesitate to stop us. We have spent a long time preparing for you and are very excited to meet you personally!


ASOH Co-Chairs: Jasmine Lee, ‘20 (, Lise Guerrier, ‘20 (, Toccara Nelson, ‘19 (, Robbie Pomeroy, ‘19 (, Kirsten Jackson, ‘18 (, Jill Winter, ‘18 ( 

Hot Bench: Michelle Chang '19

Your Name: Michelle Chang 


1.  Have you ever had a nickname? What? 

My dad and I were popularly known as the 2 Changz, does that count?

2.  What is your favorite word? 


3.  Where did you grow up? 

Taiwan, (we have the best night markets in the WORLD) and West Palm Beach. I only saw snow a whopping three times before the age of 22.

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

See above description about night markets. Seriously how can everything taste so good? Although a close runner up is McDonald’s fries and chicken nuggets.

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

Demi Lovato. She is talented, passionate, beautiful and intelligent. Most importantly she’s real. She opens up about her mental illness and speaks up against bullying and body image issues. She’s a queen and I’d love to tell her how much she’s inspired me over the years.

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

Pandas. Sloths. UNICORNS.

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

Demi Lovato’s "Tell Me You Love Me." I already say that phrase ten times a day anyways.

8.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? 

Speak every language. Communication is a beauty of humanity. And also my sources of gossip is now unlimited. 

9.  What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVa? People drink a lot. A lot more than a lot.

10.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?  

Kevin Malone’s chili.

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

1. Two friends and I once had a podcast about Dawson’s Creek and James Van Der Beek tweeted at us. (lie, it was John Wesley Shipp who tweeted at us. I’m famous yes.) 

2. My face is on an exhibit in the Frost Museum of Science in Miami. (again, I’m famous yes) 

3. I’m allergic to happiness, aka furry friends and alcohol.

12.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 


13.  What’s the best (or worst!) PG-rated pick-up line you’ve ever heard? 

Going to bed? Mind if I Slytherin?

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

From my Law School wife Rachel Gallagher: Hermione Granger’s wand with the note “because you’re magical.”

15.  If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

Most petty or most dramatic.

16.  If you could know one thing about your future, what would it be?  

Will I ever meet Demi Lovato? 

17.  Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC? 

I don’t know her.

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

Close to 24 hours in high school. I was in an IB program. Contrary to popular belief, the “S” in “IB therefore IBS,” does not stand for sleep.

19.  What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville? 

Visiting Carter Mountain! There are actually non-drinking activities for me to do there! 

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

Nap time is mandatory. At least 20 minutes every four hours. At work and at school. Everywhere.


Michelle Chang  

Hot Bench: Brian Miller '19

1. What are you most excited for during your second summer in Raleigh, North Carolina?
North Carolina is God’s country —surrounded by the best barbecue, kind people, and a day trip to the Outer Banks or the mountains.

2. Where did you grow up?
Asheville, N.C. It’s a small speck of new-age art and craft beer sitting in a sea of Appalachian country folk. One of the best places to go to find jacked-up pickup trucks sporting “Eat Local” bumper stickers.

3. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Denver seems nice. But I’d be fine with anywhere that has a Moe’s Southwest Grill (the real reason I’m not staying in Charlottesville post-law school).

4. What’s your least favorite sound?
I’d agree with Jenny Lamberth that the sound of chewing food is up there. Also any portion of the Bluebook being read aloud.

5. If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Lil Wayne. Explanation neither needed nor provided.

6. Where is your favorite place to vacation?
St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Just enough tourists that there’s a lot to do, but a far cry from the commerciality of somewhere like Myrtle Beach. They also have very nice trees.

7. What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVa Law?
The name of literally any major law firm. I spent many conversations pretending to know what was happening when people were throwing around strange words like “Cravath,” “Skadden,” and “MoFo.”

8. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Bojangles. One of North Carolina’s gifts to the world, along with Cookout and Nina Simone.

9. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Maybe when I got my PlayStation 1. At the time I had no idea what a “PlayStation” was, so you can imagine my 7-year-old self’s pleasure when I discovered it was not in fact some sort of children’s playpen.
10. Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?
I used to think Backstreet Boys was a gang, so I guess *NSYNC.

11. What is the best concert you have ever been to?
I enjoyed John Mayer when he was playing his more blues-y stuff.

12. What’s your spirit animal?
A fox, provided it’s an unusually un-enthusiastic fox.

13. What’s your favorite food?

14. If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
BUY CHICK-FIL-A NUGGET. And then see if I could bribe Hugh Jackman to come to Barrister’s with me next year. (Alternative answer: àchurchàloansàcarànuggets).

15. If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn?
Piano, and then how to precisely mimic Prof. Jeffries’s voice.

16. What are the 7 wonders of the law school?
The wild success of Career Services; Dean Emerson Spies’s furry robe thing in his portrait; the ghostly doors to the outside that make noises at you when you walk by them at night (seriously, it’s a thing).

A Farewell from the Editor-in-Chief

The Law Weekly has seen its share of ups and downs during the last several years. Alex Haden ’17 made it the mission of his tenure as Editor-in-Chief to restore the Law Weekly to its former glory as the pulse of the Law School community and as the historical record for the school. Under his leadership, the Law Weekly won the ABA Student Newspaper of the year award. To say I had big shoes to fill was an understatement. 

My goal for the year was to move from rebuilding the paper to taking it in a new direction. That new direction became clear on August 11 and 12, 2017.

The Law Weekly office houses paper copies of every issue we have published for the last seventy years. We see our archives as dozens of little time capsules; snapshots of UVa and international history gathered by generations of UVa Law students, from the introduction of new deans to the aftermath of 9/11. As a staff, we knew we had to cover the fatal protests in the most comprehensive way possible.

Our staff GroupMe was at a near constant buzz on those two days in mid-August. We had our first issue planned and ready, but none of the jokes about starting law school or ANG’s drunken escapades felt right at all anymore. So we scrapped it and started over.     Immediately we began interviewing students and faculty who were eyewitnesses to the protests for our reporting on the event itself. But more than to report, we wanted to provide a space for students to work through their emotions and sought reaction pieces from students of all years. 

In my capacity as EIC, I began talking to student organization leaders at the Law School about how the Law Weekly could better reflect our community. As a result of those talks I kicked off the year with the “Spotlight Series,” where affinity groups were given a space to educate the student body about issues that their communities are facing. These Spotlights became the core of our post-August 12 issues.

 In another effort to make the Law Weekly more inclusive, I offered authors the opportunity to give their pronouns so when editorials are written, the feedback can be given appropriately. I received more feedback about this editorial decision than any other this year, mostly positive, some vehemently negative. 

Because I never had the forum to explain the reasoning behind providing this option, I will explain it now. 

First, the inclusion of gender pronouns is a choice. We do not force authors to include them against their will; we merely extend to them the opportunity to include them—an opportunity a majority of our authors take enthusiastically.

Second, I feel that the paper should reflect the changing environment of the school. I look at old editions frequently and am aghast by announcements about “wives of law students” clubs, and the lack of women and people of color in the pictures and on the newspaper staff. But I am heartened to see how rapidly the Law Weekly has changed to reflect the increasingly diverse student bodies of recent years. The option to include one’s pronouns is a small step in the direction of increased inclusion that I believe the Law School is moving towards. 

Third, though I am a cis-gender woman with a culturally feminine first name, I have received countless emails and letters to “Mr. Editor-in-Chief.” To be clear, the addition of pronouns was not meant to benefit me, but I have found that the addition of pronouns to articles I authored and to my email signature have reduced these awkward blunders. 

Fourth, I have heard one phrase countless times: “But The New York Times doesn’t include pronouns of authors!” I am flattered that the Law Weekly is compared so often to such a prestigious publication. I hate to break it to you, loyal readers, that we are not The New York Times. The Law Weekly is meant to be a keeper of history, a place of discussion, common community, and humor. We make mistakes but we try to respond and do our best for the UVa Law community. The inclusion of pronouns is a small showing of solidarity with our transgender and gender-queer colleagues in a community newspaper. 

Being Editor-in-Chief of the Law Weekly was the highlight of my law school career, and I want to thank all the student guest columnists, the faculty who advised us, and to the incredible team of staff writers and editors who dedicated countless hours to supporting the paper. Thank you especially to SBA President Steven Glendon, who allowed us to poke fun at him mercilessly (despite being fantastic at his job), and to my Executive Editor, Jansen VanderMeulen, who went above and beyond in his role and will do great things as Editor-in-Chief. 

Finally, thank you to all of our readers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of your law school experience. The past three years have been pure fun and I hope it showed. 




1 Covering events, writing reviews, soliciting student and professor articles, planning professor interviews, workshopping jokes, and ruling on novel issues that come before the Court of Petty Appeals.

Finding Your Voice: A Sitdown with Judge Newsom

Last Thursday, Judge Kevin Newsom, a 2017 appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, joined UVa Law students in Caplin Pavilion to discuss aspects of his judicial philosophy and the steps he has taken on his career path. 

 Judge Kevin Newsom. Photo courtesy of  Alabama Today. 

Judge Kevin Newsom. Photo courtesy of Alabama Today. 

Facilitated by UVa Law’s Professor Leslie Kendrick, the discussion began with a question about Judge Newsom’s childhood and what it was like to grow up in Birmingham, Alabama, the same city where he now sits on the bench. Speaking with an admirable candor, Judge Newsom admitted that his childhood contained many notable challenges, including the fact that both of his parents struggled with alcoholism during his youth. Additionally, his younger sister, who sadly passed away several years ago, suffered from severe mental and physical disabilities. In spite of these early obstacles, Judge Newsom characterized them as having a “unique influence” on his upbringing. He also lauded his childhood best friend’s father for serving as a positive role model during that time. 

Judge Newsom went on to describe his education and the events that inspired his interest in the law. He attended Samford University for college, though he stated that it wasn’t until he took an American Constitutional History class during his junior year that he fell in love with the subject matter. Shortly after taking that course, Judge Newsom happened to tune into a late-night television program discussing the Incorporation Doctrine. It was then that he realized pursuing a career in the law was what he truly wanted to do. After completing his degree at Samford, and graduating summa cum laude, Judge Newsom went on to Harvard Law School where he served as an articles editor for the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. Judge Newsom said he loved his time as a law student and particularly enjoyed taking classes taught by Professor Richard Fallon. Professor Fallon, he said, had a gift for making difficult concepts clear, even in notoriously difficult courses such as Federal Courts.


Following his graduation from Harvard Law, Judge Newsom clerked for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Newsom urged people thinking about clerking to do so and said that, while clerking may nudge open some doors later on in life, its true value lies in seeing how judges work and gaining firsthand experience in watching how law “gets done.” Moreover, Judge Newsom stated that clerking for two judges with notably different personalities and ideologies influenced the way he runs his chambers now. Specifically, he indicated that he views clerking as an experience that should be mutually beneficial for judges and clerks and said that he hopes to make things fun and enjoyable for the individuals who work for him. Judge Newsom also gave a special shout-out to Libby Stropko, a current 2L who will clerk for him in 2019 after her graduation. Following the event, Stropko said, “I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to clerk for Judge Newsom. He is a brilliant jurist and writer, as well as a thoughtful mentor. I hope to learn a lot from him.” 

Judge Newsom’s writing was also a focal point of the discussion and it is easy to see why: he is a four-time recipient of the National Association of Attorneys General “Best Brief Award,” which is given for exceptional briefing in the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Newsom said that as an attorney, and especially as a judge, it is important to constantly try to improve your legal writing. He adheres to the belief that, so long as your writing falls within the accepted bounds of grammar and takes account of the context and audience, attorneys should strive to “write the way [they] talk.” He noted that past generations of judges tended to be very formal but personally thinks that a writer’s goal should be to keep people reading and interested in the topic. As evidence that he practices what he preaches, Judge Newsom remarked that his first opinion opened with the sentence, “This is a tax case. Fear not, keep reading.” 1

Finally, throughout the discussion, Judge Newsom offered several lighthearted pieces of sound advice that seemed to resonate with the students in attendance. One comment he made was that, “So long as you’re ‘smart enough,’ which everyone in this room clearly is, all that matters is how much you really care.” Judge Newsom’s emphasis on the importance of personal effort is something that he admitted is particularly crucial to him when he hires new clerks. When asked to elaborate on this, Judge Newsom said that while having smart clerks is a factor in his hiring decisions, it is equally essential that they are team players who bring a positive energy to his chambers. Judge Newsom also said that although it is a good idea to have a general plan for one’s future, he encouraged students to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and to “leave [themselves] open to dumb luck.” He suggested that following that last piece of advice allowed him to have a fulfilling career. He began at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., before he went on to serve as the Solicitor General of Alabama, and then head the appellate practice group at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham. After hearing Judge Newsom speak, it is clear that it will be interesting to watch him continue to grow into his new role on the Eleventh Circuit.

1 Morrissey v. United States, 2017 WL 4229062 (11th Cir. Sept. 25, 2017)

Court of Petty Appeals: Students v. Misc Food

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court comprises four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to

Students of the University of Virginia, the Federalist Society, Claimants


Eight Cartons of “Firehouse” Submarine Sandwiches, A Cask of Coca-Cola, and One Bowl of Pickles and Relishes, More or Less. 

68 U.Va. 976 (2018)

No. 83-1120

Argued February 7, 2018

Decided February 12, 2018

Justice Ranzini delivered the opinion of the Court, in which The Chief Justice and Justices  VanderMeulen and Jani joined. Justice Keane filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Justice Scalia, sitting by designation, filed a dissenting opinion. 

This case arises from a civil complaint brought by the Students for the forfeiture of a substantial lunch spread, left enticingly on the “free food table.” Attempts (successful) by the Federalist Society, Respondent and real party in interest here, to exclude passing would-be-takers from consumption of these sandwiches, and subsequently removal and consumption (in private) of the lunches followed. On the grounds that the food had already, by operation of law, become food “abandoned as free” passing to the Students, the Students brought this suit in rem1 alleging the subsequent removal of the sandwiches constituted unlawful conversion. A three-day trial before the Court of Petty Claims resulted in a judgment as a matter of law in favor of the Students. On appeal, a divided panel of the Court of Petty Claims, Appellate Division, upheld the trial court’s judgement. We reverse. 


In the late forenoon of February 7, eight cardboard cartons of Firehouse sandwiches2 and the miscellaneous food described above appeared on the table that adjoins the north wall of the Class of 1965 Student Lounge, long popularly known as a “free food table.” At trial, the Federalist Society averred that, despite placing them on the table, they had never abandoned the sandwiches, had remained in their vicinity while purportedly awaiting the vacancy of their event room, and had continued jealously—indeed, hungrily—to assert their rights to ownership. Witnesses for the Society were called to assert that they had shooed away the crowd who quickly attempted to descend on the footlongs, letting not a single slice of pickle escape into the surrounding hungry mouths. Testimony from the Students was admitted in opposition to assert that, contrary to the account of the Society, the sandwiches appeared for some time to be abandoned before Society representatives reappeared to shoo them away and had, at any rate, been placed on the free food table, where, in longstanding local usage, they were popularly understood to be abandoned. 


The historical petty law distinguished abandoned food as a category separate from other property of questionable ownership, deriving from the ancient custom of the “free food table,”  a formalistic test for determining if food remained the property of its original owner or had become “abandoned as free” for the free sharing of all hungry persons nearby. Although, along with the forms alimentarius which accompanied them, however, these distinctions have never been modified or abolished by statute, they have long been considered dormant. Looking outward, we find too, that other nations have simplified and harmonized what were, in many nations, a morass of laws and rulings on the taking of free treats. In some jurisdictions this has been accomplished by statute, as in the European Union’s Standardization Directive on Buffets, Free Samples, and Hors d’oeuvres (Council Directive 101/963, art. 451bis, 2012 O.J. (L 576) 1, 2 (EC); in others, it has been the duty of our sister courts, as in America, to say what the law is. See, e.g., Saikō Saibansho [Sup. Ct.] Dec. 2, 2016, Hei 28 (kyo) no. 45, 78 Saikō Saibansho Minji Hanreishū [Minshū] 4335, 1223 [Japan].


It is surprising, then, that the trial court’s order, and the opinion of the Appellate Division upholding it, rely exclusively on long outworn, disfavored, formalistic doctrine, as evidenced by their frequent references to the long-dormant action in trover alimentarius. The Students’ case appears to rely chiefly on a narrow decision in Students v. Flaming Punch-Bowl, 2 U.Va. 551 (1834) and an obscure statement, made obiter dicta in Wilkes v. Snath, 11 U.Va. 328 (1910) that appears to endorse alimentary trover’s continued viability in the 20th century. We believe the cited cases are distinguishable in their plain facts; however, to the extent that they conflict with the instant decision, they are hereby overruled. 

As for any personal property, we declare that the better rule for the abandonment of food is that it requires (1) an intention to relinquish all interests in the property, and (2) a positive act by the owner effectuating that intent. In the case of food abandonment and placement on “free food tables” and other customary loci of disposal and dispersion, that placement, in some cases, may create a presumption of intention to abandon to the free consumption of such clarity as to approach to irrefutability. We do not, however, today purport to lay out with exactitude the contours of when, exactly, this may be;5 instead trusting to the same wellsprings American law has always resorted to: the rough-hewn intuitions of the jury, under the careful guidance of the judge. 

By way of guidance in this matter, we take note that an organization primarily dedicated to laundering soft money into jurisprudence favorable to its donors by first converting it into free chicken sandwiches, the Federalist Society undoubtedly has a lower expectation than other persons may in reasserting possession over food whose status as abandoned as free or defended is in question, as here. But here, we feel, though placed for a time on the free food table, the record shows evidence sufficient to engender a genuine question of material fact as to whether the sandwiches in question were nonetheless being guarded. That question was, in right, within the competence of the petty jury, and should have been decided there. 


REVERSED and REMANDED for new trial in accordance with this opinion. 


Scalia, J. dissenting 

Fifteen long years ago, I warned, from this nation’s highest bench, that the results of that court’s short-sighted decision to revise our once-sacred standards of stare decisis for the sake of a politically-expedient result would open wide the floodgates to a “massive disruption of the current social order.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 591 (2003) (SCALIA, J., dissenting). As in the great, so in the small—and from my seat by designation on the Petty Bench today, I find myself a voice crying out in the wilderness once again.

From the way he blunders, groping murkily for something—anything—on which he can hang his preferred result, it seems to me sadly clear that Justice Ranzini is a lost child of the third generation brought up in the darkness of Justice Douglas’s justly-infamous “penumbras.” Wild Bill’s ghost is with us yet, I see, hovering over the nation like a nightmare. Like the Supreme Court’s opinion from which I dissented those fifteen years ago, today’s opinion is the product of a court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the agenda directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has attached to any traditionally disfavored conduct, whether homosexual sodomy or hogging food that should be free for all. (See id. at 602.) Were it not so, this Court could have found the answer for this case right under their noses within our common petty law. 

The longstanding law this court discards today laid out simple, self-applying rules for “tabling,” perfected long ago. The distinction between private events and the open food tables for disposal of extras is “as old as the common law. Oakeshott v. Mills, 70 U.S. 927, 995 (1916). As well as the food table itself, that law regards the area “immediately surrounding and associated with the free food table”—what our cases call the food-courtilage—as “part of the free food table itself for Free Lunch purposes.” Oliver, Treatise on the Pettie Law at 180* (1735). This principle, too has ancient and durable roots: Blackstone said of the “food courtilage or sandwich-stall” that the “table protects and privileges all its branches and appurtenants.” 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Petit Laws of England 223, 225 (1769). This area around the free food table is “intimately linked to the free food table, both physically and psychologically,” and is where “free lunch expectations are most heightened.” California v. Leguizamo, 476 U.S. 188, 213, 106 S.Ct. 1809, 90 L.Ed.2d 334 (1986). Food enters this area the property of the donor; it must not leave again, except in the stomachs of hungry claimers, whose property it instantly becomes by operation of this act, known in the earliest cases as the “livery of seasoning.” The courts below understood well these principles and rightly ruled in favor of the Students. This Court, it is clear, has other ideas. If it is the majority’s intent to send away the venerable principles of tabling with this opinion, let me drink their health a final time in parting. “For tomorrow we may die.”


Keane, J., concurring in part and concurring in the judgment

In responding to the majority’s opinion, it is necessary to first address what this case is really about, namely: “Entitlement. n. (1) The mistaken belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges, such as a free submarine sandwich on a Tuesday afternoon. (2) An exceptionally unflattering quality that makes people particularly irksome to deal with.” See Dictionary of Petty Definitions (2018); see also Why People in the Service Industry “Go Postal,” 42 J. Soc. Behav. 194 (1993). The majority’s opinion admirably refuses to join the lower courts in reducing students’ preparedness for their lives beyond the walls of UVa Law when they will be forced to confront the harsh reality that “the dang Commies lost—there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” See Recently Graduated Law Students v. Food Stall Operator Who Wants to Get Paid, 72 C.O.R.W.P. 86 (2010).6 

Regrettably, however, the majority negligently mischaracterizes the facts giving rise to this suit even as it stumbles upon the correct result. The sandwiches in question were placed on the free food table at approximately 10:50 a.m. in advance of an event hosted by the Federalist Society that they planned to begin setting up at 11 a.m. Because students have a surprising tendency to dawdle while packing up their belongings at the end of a riveting lecture on the tax code of Turkey,7 the class that had been occupying the event space took longer to empty out of the reserved room than Federalist Society organizers had reasonably anticipated. As a consequence, when Firehouse Subs’ delivery person arrived with the sandwiches, he did not have an obvious place to leave them other than—as he suggested to the Federalist Society member in charge of arranging the event’s catering—on the ground. Realizing that most event attendees would be less than thrilled to eat a floor-sandwich, the Federalist Society’s representative instructed the delivery person to put the food on the disputed table. The representative testified that she stood with the food throughout the limited duration that it was there and repeatedly explained the situation to the descending vultures—er, other students. Using the Court’s own legal analysis and a property hornbook, it is difficult to fathom how, as in the facts currently before the Court, one could claim that the food items had, in fact, been abandoned regardless of where they had been placed. Notably, the majority’s own opinion suggests support for the decision made by the Federalist Society’s representative. Specifically, the majority states in a footnote that Firehouse Subs has a likely interest in associating a “sanitary, wholesome aura” with its sandwiches that would be undermined by the “locker-room funk” found in a fire station. Similarly, Firehouse Subs has a presumable interest in not having its food associated with the unsanitary condition of being put on the well-trafficked floors of the Law School.8

The majority, despite, at least, reaching the only acceptable conclusion, also seems to focus on the modifying component of the phrase “free food table” at the expense of the final word: “Table. n. A piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, providing a level surface on which objects may be placed and that can be used for such purposes as eating [and presumably, holding food whether it is free or not].” See An Actual Dictionary (2017). Alone, the definition of “table” provides no suggestion that the objects it can hold must always be free, and it is unreasonable—and, actually, inaccurate—to assume that the modifier is always applicable. For instance, the free food table and the alcove that it occupies regularly hosts food intended solely for consumption by certain individuals. As an example, one only needs to look at the food placed there on the mornings of 1L oral arguments each spring. In such situations, although 2Ls and 3Ls passing by might be interested in snagging a cold bagel before pretending to study in the Law Library, their itchy fingers would be swiftly smacked away by Legal Writing professors in charge of guarding the spread.9 Thus, it is apparent that exceptions to the purportedly longstanding tradition of allowing all law students to acquire food free of charge from the table exist and are accepted within the community. 

Further, the majority ignores the fact that, despite the allegedly universal understanding that items on the free food table may be taken at will, when food items are actually placed on the table, students constantly ask questions, such as, “Is this up for grabs?” and, “I can take this, right?” Such questions severely undermine the majority’s argument that the free food table carries an automatic presumption of abandonment. After all, if UVa Law students truly believed that everything placed on it could be taken for their personal consumption, there would be no need for the regular displays of hesitation described above. See generally Students v. That One Student Who Always Asks Self-Explanatory Questions One Minute Before Class Ends, 35 U.Va. 433 (1992) (in which the Court held that there is no reason for students to question the obvious when the obvious is actually obvious). 

Ultimately, the majority’s confusing and listless opinion leaves event organizers to choose between several unappealing options when they are in a bind. They can either: (1) set the food on a table outside the vicinity of their event; (2) place the food that their organization paid for on the disputed table and incur the unjustified wrath of the entitled; (3) put the food on the floor (because everyone enjoys eating sandwiches covered in dust and hair, amirite?!); or (4) place the food on the vulture table and pray it conforms to the majority’s unintelligible, sentimental, Kennedy-like test. Because the majority’s decision refuses to acknowledge that exceptions to the free food table’s tradition already exist and are invoked as needed, it makes less sense than mayonnaise. Accordingly, I concur in the judgment only. Well, almost only. I join the majority’s footnote about the sweaty fireman locker rooms. Preach.

1 Commentators differ on whether this once-strict procedural requirement remains so for actions arising in petty law from disputes in things, but no doubt the flexibility of the form within the petty law, not to mention our preference for the eccentric case names it generates, will ensure that the action in rem always finds an honored place before our Bench. See Cleaning Staff v. Taped Outline, 68 C.O.P.A. 557 (2017) (Libel Show, real party in interest, attempting to enjoin removal of symbol on floor, “phallic in nature”); Twelve Dozen Duck Donuts, More or Less, v. Duck 68 U.Va. 334 (2017) (proceeding in rem as donuts, SBA attempts to compel donut shop to timely deliver exam week sweets); Students v. Electronic Thermostat, 65 U.Va. 128 (2001) (the Students in their official capacity proceed in rem against unknown University employee responsible for setting temperature of Withers-Brown 102 below the freezing point). 

2 “Founded by Firemen,” a tagline, this Court pauses to note, is in two respects dubious: on the one hand, it cynically commercializes the sacrificial bravery of the fire services, while on the other hand any sanitary, wholesome aura it seeks to imbue in its hearty sandwiches is in powerful tension with the flatulent locker-room funk of a real fire station.

3 Free food tables appear in English petty jurisprudence almost from the Conquest. Although the custom was briefly banned by statute during the reign of Henry II in Quibus comedent (1165), 11 Hen. 2, “tabling” was passed down by the common law to be adopted on this continent prior to the Revolution. 

4 “Food . . . abandoned as free . . . is the common property of any who can eat it; cast aside into a maelstrom of gnashing mouths, its ownership vests collectively in all who see it and hunger.” 2 Leslie’s Commentary on the Law Petty, *152 (1857). The attempt to aggressively arrogate too large a share of food abandoned as free has historically been actionable as “hogging.” 

5 An example, offered non-exhaustively: when the Justices are extra hungry. 

6 The Court of Real World Problems, though rarely cited by this court, consists of esteemed (alright, not always esteemed) scholars (but more frequently, angry middle-aged men) who regularly publish their opinions in the comment sections of Facebook posts. 

7 Real talk: do y’all actually enjoy being in those dated wood-paneled classrooms longer than absolutely necessary? Where’s the hustle to escape to freedom? 

8 No offense to UVa Law’s cleaning staff, of course, who have the difficult task of constantly cleaning up after people who don’t understand how trashcans work. 

9 I see you, J. Fore.



Hot Bench: Courtney Koelbel '19

1.  Have you ever had a nickname? What? 

Thanks to Mr. Miller of Superstition Springs Elementary, I’ve had at least five: Koelbel on the Cob, Cowbell, Kibbles and Bits, Kill Bill, and Kill Bill Vol. 2.

2.  What is your favorite word? 

Phantasmagoria—it was one of my vocab words in elementary school and I just really liked it. 

3.  Where did you grow up?

Mesa/Gilbert, Arizona

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

J.K. Rowling. A) Because I need a second chance since last time I couldn’t manage to put together a full sentence. B) So I can ask her what’s up with Johnny Depp/the lack of Dumbledore gayness in Fantastic Beasts.

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

    Regulus Black (my cat) because he’s purr-fect.

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

    Right now, I would say Rainbow by Kesha. Hella inspiring.

7.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I would love to be able to stop time. Then I would be able to create enough time in the day to do all of the things I need to do.

8.  What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVa?

    How much drinking there would be so I could better prepare my liver.

9.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Oatmeal with banana, peanut butter, flax seed, and almond milk (trying to be all healthy and whatnot).

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

All my cats at home are named after “It’s a Wonderful Life characters”; I’ve never broken a bone; and one year, instead of going home for Thanksgiving, I flew to Orlando to watch my favorite band’s last concert ever. The broken bone one is the lie. I broke my arm when I was too young to remember it.

11.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

    NYC for sure.

12.  What’s the best (or worst!) PG-rated pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

Did you survive the Avada Kedavra curse? Because you’re drop-dead gorgeous. (To be clear, I read this on the internet.)

13.  If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

    Most likely to chain herself to a tree.

14.  If you could know one thing about your future, what would it be?

    How many cats do I end up having at once?

15.  Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?


16.  What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

    Doing trash things with my babes.

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

    No more fossil fuels. Let’s just ban them all.

Moore: Professor. Powerlifter. Politician?

Lia-Michelle Keane '18
Features Editor

 A young Professor Moore in 1972.  Virginia Law Weekly

A young Professor Moore in 1972. Virginia Law Weekly

I had the pleasure of first meeting Professor John Norton Moore in December 2017 when I volunteered to promote his possible senatorial bid at the Republican Party of Virginia’s “Advance.” Despite the numerous events on his schedule that weekend, Professor Moore’s calm and genial affect was unshakeable throughout the Advance as he answered hard-hitting questions ranging from his position on foreign policy to his stance on taxes. 

When members of the Law Weekly sat down with Professor Moore over lunch in late January, I learned that his one-hour Saturday morning presentation had enjoyed the highest attendance of any potential candidate at the Advance, an impressive feat for a newcomer in the political arena. Professor Moore spoke candidly about the preparation that he had undertaken leading up to that weekend. According to Professor Moore, he had been contemplating a run for the U.S. Senate since the summer of 2017 after being approached by party leaders in Virginia. Professor Moore indicated that he had also been encouraged to seek a potential Senate seat after watching the uninspiring presidential debates in 2016. In fact, his dissatisfaction with the debates on both sides of the aisle prompted him to write a book, The Presidential Debates: Issues and Questions for the 2016 Elections and Beyond, which emphasizes topics that he believes any candidate should be familiar with. 

By the time he spoke at the Advance, Professor Moore had developed a platform that  focused on issues such as increasing the country’s underlying growth rate; funding medical research for diseases; social security reform; enhancing military resources; and promoting prison reform. With respect to the latter, Professor Moore expressed his concern that politicians have traditionally shied away from discussing, among other things, alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders and also from amending the existing sentencing guidelines as well as other needed changes in the criminal justice system. In Professor Moore’s own words, his platform was largely founded on his goal of preserving the Republican Party for everyone in the nation and attracting a greater number of women and younger voters. 

 Photo courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law.

Photo courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law.

Nevertheless, Professor Moore stated that, following the Advance, he made the difficult decision not to pursue a senatorial campaign, a choice that he described as having “broken his heart.” Professor Moore cited the current political climate as having been a significant deterrent, though he said that he loved the experience and wished that he had considered running “twenty years ago.” He strongly encourages UVa Law students with political interests to pursue that route because he believes that this Law School is filled with the best and brightest who possess the integrity necessary to run our country. Moore also indicated that he would like to see more faculty members consider entering politics. He stated that although the process may initially seem mysterious, it is something that reveals itself step by step. 

A brief review of Professor Moore’s résumé, with his five presidential appointments, makes it obvious that he would have brought a tremendous amount of experience and insight to the Senate, though his background also makes him a clear superstar at UVa Law. For instance, during the First Gulf War, Professor Moore served as the principal legal adviser to the Ambassador of Kuwait. His work focused largely on demarcating the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait, and he joked that because most negotiations took place in Geneva, at one point, he had spent “1/40th of his life” in Switzerland. Notably, his position drew the attention of Saddam Hussein who named him before the Iraqi Parliament as a potential target. While most people would be justifiably terrified by this, true to his unflappable demeanor, Professor Moore calmly explained that he had simply responded by removing his addresses and any identifying information about his family and himself from the internet. 

In addition to his role in the Gulf War, Professor Moore also played an instrumental role in rule-of-law talks between the U.S. and the then-U.S.S.R. As the chair of the board of directors at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Professor Moore encouraged the U.S. government to promote democracy and the rule of law. Along with the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Moore wrote an overview paper that was reviewed by Soviet officials, including a personal spokesman for Mikhail Gorbachev, during a meeting in Moscow. In the overview paper, Professor Moore emphasized the importance of property rights, which he had been told would probably not be received well by the Communist leaders in attendance. In spite of this, according to Professor Moore, the U.S.S.R. representative who responded to his comments on property rights stood up and said, “I’m here to tell you that the lack of property rights has destroyed civil society [in the U.S.S.R.].” Professor Moore described that moment as the signal that revolution had arrived and he sent a cable back to the State Department that “the revolution was here.” The talks that Professor Moore participated in ultimately resulted in negotiations for a charter on democracy known formally as the Copenhagen Document, and colloquially referred to as a modern Magna Carta. 

While one could fill a book with Professor Moore’s impressive professional background, his personal life is equally exciting. In particular, Professor Moore is a renowned competitive powerlifter. He is a six-time member of the U.S. National Powerlifting team and is set to return to the team later this year for the world championships in Finland. Professor Moore started competing on the bench press at 66 years old and within a few years he had joined the U.S. team. He has set two North American record and won multiple U.S. national championships. His personal best lift weighed in at 309 pounds; in competition he has lifted 288 pounds. He holds the unequipped national record for his age group with an in-competition lift of 270 pounds. Along with powerlifting, Professor Moore enjoys sailing and fly fishing, as well as dining at Pomme, a French restaurant in Orange, Virginia, which he highly recommends. 

Although he will not be running for the U.S. Senate, after speaking with Professor Moore at the Advance and during this interview, it is my personal opinion that he exemplifies the most desirable qualities of both a political representative and a UVa Law professor. 



Hot Bench: Shruthi Prabhu '19

1.  Have you ever had a nickname? What?

A lot of my friends call me “Shruth.” But when I was in fifth grade, my teacher kept saying “speak the shruth,” which was the handle for my first email address and now pretty much all of my social media.

2.  What is your favorite word? 

I don’t think I really have a favorite word, because it really depends on how I’m feeling that day. Sometimes my favorite word of the day is “substantive,” another day it’s “exponential,” and sometimes, just to make people mad, it’s “moist.” 

3.  Where did you grow up?

I have lived in a lot of places growing up. I was born in India, moved to the Bay Area in California when I was one year old, lived there for about eleven years, then moved to Plano, Texas (a suburb of Dallas) and spent the other half of my life there! 

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

I would love to meet Demi Lovato. I recently watched her documentary on Netflix, and I love how candid she is about her troubles and the less romanticized aspects about being a celebrity. Plus, she just seems really fun to be around. 

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

It would be a golden retriever for sure. We probably wouldn’t win anything, but at least we’d be loved. 

6.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Time control, so that I would never make any bad decisions, I could try anything and if it turned out badly, I would just rewind and do over. I could experience EVERYTHING in life. 

7.  What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVa?

I wish I had known that people become different people once they’re 2Ls (different in a good way). A lot of people tend to redeem themselves once the stresses of 1L are a thing of the past.

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

My grandpa was the first man in South India to receive his PhD in English Literature and is a professor at a rural college for women because he had four daughters and believes in women’s right to an education. My family almost went bankrupt many years ago, so I know what it’s like to be afraid about money every day. If I could pick between a dog and a cat, I would pick a cat every time (the biggest lie in the world). 

9.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I would pick Prague. I just visited it a few weeks ago and absolutely fell in love. I also saw an office for Weil there, so maybe that’ll be my future plan. 

10.  What’s the best (or worst!) PG-rated pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

I once heard a guy at a bar say, “Do you like raisins? How do you feel about a date?” I really hope the girl said yes. 

11.  If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

If the Law School had yearbook awards, I would want to win “most likely to stay in touch with her close friends from school.”  

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

If I could make one law, I would tell people they’re required to think before they said anything potentially offensive/racist/malicious, to make sure the receiving person wouldn’t take it the wrong way. 

20. What event are you most excited for on the UVa calendar?

I am excited for the Diversity Festival! It’s always a fun event, seeing all the different affinity groups get together and set up tables to celebrate diversity. 


Dicta: Urban History and the Takings Clause

Professor Molly Brady
Associate Professor of Law

 An example of the practice of "grading." Photo courtesy of The City of Seattle Office of the City Clerk.

An example of the practice of "grading." Photo courtesy of The City of Seattle Office of the City Clerk.

Since deciding to become a law professor, I’ve been intrigued by bits of lost urban history and what that history can teach us about law. Studying a city and its development can reveal failed legal strategies, the political economy of local decisions, or the forgotten novelty of legal rules and doctrines that we take for granted. About four years ago, while reading a book for pleasure, I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks. It depicted a house on top of what looked like a cliff, accompanied by a short byline noting that people often weren’t compensated when the streets in front of their homes were lowered (in some cases by close to one hundred feet). At the time, I was a PhD student, and I was about to go on the academic job market to become a professor. Though many of my advisors were slightly worried about my newfound passion for nineteenth-century roadways, I decided to spend the remainder of my doctoral years investigating “street grading”: an era of American infrastructural development in which municipal and state officials leveled streets to reduce the cost of street and train transportation. By raising and lowering the streets to make them level, these officials inflicted devastating injuries on property that the law needed to grow to accommodate. In a series of Virginia Law Review articles—one accepted before my arrival here and one forthcoming this spring—I have been exploring what the legal responses to grading teach us about property, land use, and constitutional law.

The first of my articles, “Property’s Ceiling: State Courts and the Expansion of Takings Clause Property,” explored one set of responses to the crisis posed by street grading. Early on, many jurisdictions did not award the landowners suddenly stranded by grading projects any damages or compensation. In fact, these abutting owners were often charged money in the form of assessments to finance the grading projects that essentially forced them to abandon their homes. In that article, I discuss an interesting judicial response to the perceived injustice of giving affected owners nothing: several courts, beginning with Ohio, began recognizing a “right of access” that they treated as a property interest. By recognizing access rights as property, grading projects that eliminated a property owner’s ability to conveniently access their homes and stores took property for public use, rendering the property owners entitled to compensation under the state and federal constitutions. This development is interesting for a lot of reasons, but—as any student of mine will know—I love questions about institutional capacity. Most scholars who study property think that the definition of property rights is a good subject for legislatures, who have informational and logistical advantages over courts. But the invention of the “right of access” is an outlier: a new property right formed by a court, ostensibly because legislatures could not be trusted to do the right thing. For decades, legislatures behaved badly by foreclosing avenues for property owners to obtain compensation. It is particularly troubling that several grading projects were instrumentally used to clear neighborhoods of “undesirable” people: rather than use eminent domain to condemn a low-income or immigrant neighborhood, which would be expensive, legislators could just initiate a regrade in the area, forcing people out of their homes with no payment and clearing the way for more desirable development. In such circumstances, I argue, courts are actually institutionally well positioned to step in and create new forms of property to protect landowners from political failures—even though legislatures may be the best creators of property rights in other instances.

The second article, currently titled “The Damagings Clauses,” is forthcoming this May in the Law Review. In this article, I explore a second response to grading issues: twenty-seven states amended or drafted constitutional provisions meant to address the types of consequential damages caused by these activities. In most cases, this involved adding language to the standard takings clause: these states often prohibit property from being “taken or damaged” for public use without just compensation. I have unearthed hundreds of pages of state constitutional convention debates indicating the hopes of the drafters and the concerns of those opposed to the new language. By and large, the language won out when introduced: drafters of these damagings provisions argued that it was unfair that someone suffering a de minimis appropriation of land would get compensation, but someone who lost 90% of their property value because of a non-appropriative activity (like a nearby regrade) would receive nothing. The language was remarkably popular. Strikingly, every single state that entered the Union after 1870 adopted the language, with the exception of Idaho. But in the article, I discuss a surprising fact: in most states, the language has nearly no meaning, adding no protection for property owners above the protection of the standard, federal Takings Clause. I explore how the meaning of these provisions was lost over time through judicial interpretation, and I argue that the language should be given more meaning than it currently has. The article is getting some interesting buzz—I was recently presenting at the ALI-CLE conference for eminent domain practitioners in Charleston, South Carolina, where it was discussed at several panels and where several attorneys told me they plan to cite it in upcoming briefs. More excitingly, I think that judges seem receptive to revisiting this forgotten language. Last fall, a Georgia Supreme Court justice wrote a concurrence in which he suggested revisiting the differences between Georgia’s damagings clause and the federal takings clause in light of the linguistic difference. Here in Virginia, at an oral argument last summer, one of the state Supreme Court justices noted “the big difference [between the federal and the Virginia state takings provisions] is the word ‘damage.’ That’s a huge conceptual difference.” I am excited to see if the idea gets picked up and causes courts to revisit their state constitutional interpretations.

I continue to be fascinated by questions of urban history and infrastructure; my current projects involve seventeenth-century roadways, eighteenth-century boundary markers, and nineteenth-century railroads. And I am always on the lookout for pictures and examples that suggest there is property history to be explored. If you have any, you know where to find me!


Hot Bench: Carly Crist '19

1.  Have you ever had a nickname? What?

Carl, or Cist. Apparently not as cool to use all 5 letters of my name.

2.  What is your favorite word? 

Dotard. Look it up.

3.  Where did you grow up?

The heartland, Iowa (75% vowels, 100% awesome). Des Moines specifically, one of the best cities for young professionals, check it out. 

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

Any meal in Israel, but especially the ones with unlimited wine.

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

Work Bitch, Britney Spears. Best motivational song ever made, and she is my spirit animal.

6.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

To be able to eat and drink whatever I want and never gain any weight. There are only so many Cookout and Taco Bell runs a normal person can make…

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

That I would need all my old costumes and fun clothes for themed parties I had in college. A heads-up about Feb Club would have been helpful.

8.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Does coffee count?

9.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Somewhere where it’s not too hot or too cold, all you need is a light jacket!

10.  What’s the best (or worst!) PG-rated pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

You know what would make the iPhone better? My number in it. 

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

My dog at home, Snickers. Even though she is now my dad’s shadow, nothing will beat finding out I could finally get a dog for my 15th birthday. 

12.  If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

Least gunnery.

13.  If you could know one thing about your future, what would it be?

Do the winning lottery numbers count? That public service salary is unfortunately part of my future.

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

72 hours my freshman year of college when I was working every weekend. I do not recommend getting anywhere close to that, those hallucinations will getcha. 

15.  What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

Going on hikes and to wineries. But really the wineries…trying to go to all of the ones on the Monticello wine trial before graduation. With 20 down I’m at a good spot!

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

Gryffinwhores—shout-out to my HP trivia team

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

You are not allowed to say any variation of “what’s up” to someone in passing. Everyone knows you don’t actually want them to stop and tell you what is up with them.

Court of Petty Appeals: Best-of Edition

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court comprises four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to

In accordance with this Court’s decision in Anonymous (Whiny) 3L v. Court of Petty Appeals and Justices Thereof, in their Official Capacity, but Especially Chief Justice Goldman and Justice VanderMeulen, 18 U.Va 642 (2017), the Court orders reproduction of its opinion in UVa Law v. UVa Undergraduates, 917 U.Va 322 (2016) as part of its “Best of the Court of Petty Appeals”  series. The Court trusts the law school community will find this opinion relevant and timely.

UVa Law v. UVa Undergraduates

The Court of Petty Appeals

917 U.Va 322

29 January 2018

Original Version: Spring 2016

HADEN, C.J. This case is on appeal from the lower court of Main Grounds. There, Judge Teresa Sullivan (hereinafter “T-Sully”) dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plaintiffs, here appellants, timely appealed. For the reasons that follow, we will reverse the clearly erroneous decision of T-Sully and remand this case back to her court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Plaintiffs here are a group of concerned members of the noble University of Virginia School of Law. Plaintiffs are concerned with a series of encroachments by members of the undergraduate population. The most egregious of these encroachments are the subject of this suit. What follows is a summary of these alleged encroachments.

 Photo courtesy of UVa Law Humane Society for Stray Undergraduates.

Photo courtesy of UVa Law Humane Society for Stray Undergraduates.

First, plaintiffs argue that defendants have been using the Library at the Law School during law school exams instead of whatever library undergrads are supposed to use. Plaintiffs point out the clear signs in the library, indicating that the library is only to be used by law students. Plaintiffs also provide photographic evidence of a gaggle of undergrad girls laughing loudly in MyLab while enjoying the free coffee. Indeed, numerous reports of “those f*cking undergrads mak[ing] so much g*ddamn noise” have been documented in plaintiffs’ brief.

Next, plaintiffs argue that the defendants have been making the Chipotle line really really long. Plaintiffs concede that the line is normally fairly long. However, expert opinion1 shows that the lines are beyond the normally long lines at Chipotle. Plaintiffs point to large groups of undergrads clogging the lines by talking too much, and also ordering for their friends, further increasing the delay. Chipotle store co-owner and UVa professor Deborah Hellman said, “This is some next level encroachment fo’ sho.”

The plaintiffs also contend that undergrads have been using the North Grounds Gym. They point to several photographs of students in UVa fraternity and sorority shirts, and other students in Vineyard Vines shirts “gettin’ their gym on” at North Grounds rather than in their own gyms on Main Grounds. North Grounds regular Professor Daniel Ortiz has submitted an affidavit saying, “Seriously, it’s crowded with teenagers in there. It’s more like Spring Break at Cancún than a graduate student gymnasium.”

Plaintiffs’ final contention is that undergrads in general have been clogging the streets of the city, both as drivers and as pedestrians, slowing the general movement of people in Charlottesville. Plaintiffs point to six different crosswalks on Emmet Street in a quarter-mile block. UVa Dean Paul Mahoney has noted that “those little sh*ts will just jump right out in front of you. I almost hit two on my way to work this morning.” Plaintiffs also allege that undergrads don’t drive well; their driving prowess has been described as a horrifying mix of demon-speeding in a 25 zone and crawling below 10 mph on the highway.

We now turn to a discussion of these contentions, noting of course that there is a strong legal presumption of distaste towards undergraduates. Our holding in UVa Undergraduates v. Common Decency indicates that undergraduates in large numbers tend to flood buildings and generally forget their manners when they are out on the town. 890 U.Va 432 (2015). Therefore, we shall examine plaintiffs’ claims in a broad and gracious light, resolving all ambiguities in their favor.

For this court to grant equitable relief, the plaintiffs must set out a clear claim for such relief on the basis of an encroachment by the defendants as a class. Defendants must then present evidence against such a claim, or an affirmative defense against the claim. Failure to do so shall result in requested equitable relief for the plaintiffs. Our review of the case is de novo, because we are badasses.

Plaintiffs’ first contention clearly establishes an encroachment on the UVa Law Library. Defendants have no right to be there, taking up table space and drinking coffee from MyLab. Both signs and common sense dictate that defendants should not be in that space for any reason. Therefore, as a matter of law, any undergraduate in the Law Library is encroaching on the space. No affirmative defenses are available to the defendants on this claim.

Plaintiffs’ second contention is a more difficult claim to prove. We note that a free economic market suggests that anyone may be a patron of any restaurant, regardless of age or college enrollment status. However, the evidence here is overwhelming that the defendants have been really slowing down the Chipotle line. Chipotle expert Dana Wallace ‘16 notes that, “These children—and that’s what they are, children—are far exceeding the allowable bounds of Chipotle. We have progressed from patronage to an overwhelming culinary assault on a beloved North Grounds establishment.” Defendants suggest that Chipotle is so delicious that they are unable to stay away. While we agree with this line of reasoning, we have here an impasse; the balancing of interests between the two groups is nearly equal. As stated above, we shall resolve this ambiguity against the defendants, and enter injunctive relief on plaintiffs’ second claim.

The plaintiffs’ third claim should also prevail. There are three different large gyms at the University of Virginia. Two of the three gyms are on Main Grounds, the domain of the undergraduate population. The third, North Grounds, is on “home turf” to plaintiffs and their similarly situated class, the Darden students. This gym was created and renovated with these graduate students in mind. The plaintiffs and similarly situated graduate students should not have to suffer a lack of treadmill machines and a crowded weight area because of the influx of defendants. Defendants here have no affirmative defense. There are two other gyms that they may take advantage of; they need not prey upon the graduate space when they have been given spaces of their own, much closer to their residences. Injunctive relief shall be granted on this claim.

Finally, we turn to the plaintiffs’ fourth contention. While we agree with the spirit of the claim, we are unable to grant injunctive relief on such grounds because it is too vague for equitable relief. A general claim of “clogging,” while perhaps accurate, is not specific enough for this court to enjoin such behavior. We grant the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to allege as many specific clogging violations as they wish. T-Sully in the lower court shall continue proceedings on any such claims that are deemed to be sufficiently specific.

Consistent with the above opinion, we reverse the lower court’s decision on the plaintiffs’ first three claims, and affirm the lower court’s dismissal of the fourth claim but grant leave for the plaintiffs to amend that claim.

It is so ordered.


ANGELOTTI, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The well written majority opinion is clear and correct in its statement of the complaint and facts, as well as its standard of review and presumption against the undergraduates. Further, I concur in the reversal of dismissal of the first three of the plaintiffs’ complaints. I write separately because I would also reverse the dismissal of the fourth claim.

There are things in life that are so inherently irritating that it is difficult to imagine attempting to pin that irritation down to specific words. See, e.g., pickles, democracy, and Con Law. I fear that this exact problem is what plagues the fourth contention of the plaintiffs, and since I am able to understand their general complaint, I would reverse the dismissal of this claim.

It would be relatively easy to enjoin the defendants from being annoying or obnoxious; we would rely on our enforcement officials to exercise sound judgment in preventing undergraduate behavior. I worry about the suffering that the plaintiffs will continue to suffer generally at the hands of this increasingly brazen population. While I hope that the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint to be sufficiently specific to satisfy the majority’s standards, I am content to dissent on this matter.

1 Including personal corroboration by the Chief Justice of this Court


Hot Bench: Daniel Grill '19

1. When will you be making your debut with the law school band? 

I am currently in talks with Jordan Naftalis to become the next singer, so probably early next year.

2. Where did you grow up and what was your favorite aspect of your hometown?  

I grew up in Pittsburgh and I am a huge fan of the city. I really liked growing up in a city with such great sports, people, and food. I try to go home whenever I can. Yinzer for life. 

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

It’s tough to choose one meal, but probably Thanksgiving dinner every year.

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

Topanga from Boy Meets World…she was my first crush.

5. What is the best meme site on Instagram? 

@Grillpiece412…it’s a must-follow. Hottest memes in town.

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

Friday by Rebecca Black

7. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Cutting the line at ScoCo . . . especially with the new Great Harvest options. I’m all about that chicken-barbecue sandwich.

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

Don’t get too attached to the law school band because sometimes they graduate and don’t play anymore.

9. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Granola bar from the Snack Office

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

I went to high school with Mac Miller.  I went to the same high school as Wiz Khalifa.  I am a rapper.  

(For the time being, the last one is the lie.)

11. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Pittsburgh, the best city in the world.

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

My aunt gave me a rice cooker when I graduated from college, which I use a lot. I cook stir fry for 95% of my meals, so rice is a key staple.

13. If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

Definitely best produce-based Halloween costume. Come at me TT.

14. Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?

Gunners n’ Roses

15. What is the best concert you have ever been to?

I saw 2 Chainz live when I was in college at the University of Michigan, which was a lot of fun.

16. What is your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

Get Monsoon drunken noodles to-go and play Fortnite with the boyz.


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Court of Petty Appeals: Student Body of UVa Law v. Slackers of the Faculty of UVa Law

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court comprises four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to

Student Body of UVa Law v. Slackers of the Faculty of UVa Law1

178 U.Va. 924

ZABLOCKI, J., delivered the opinion of the Court following an emergency hearing convened abroad,2 in which GOLDMAN, C.J., and VANDERMEULEN, J., joined. MALKOWSKI, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. JANI, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

JUSTICE ZABLOCKI delivered the opinion of the Court.

Despite its diverse interests, current activities (i.e. ways of destressing from the prolonged torture that is exams), and future career paths (ahem, grades needed to see what these might be—to quote one not-even-particularly-anxious 1L, “I need my grades in order to submit job apps for next summer. Or is the magic of K-Don really that limitless?”), the Student Body is united in angst resulting not from actual fall semester grades,3 but rather from the apparently endless wait for said grades to post on SIS.4 Having given the matter much thought over the many weeks that have passed since the end of finals, the Student Body therefore has decided to bring suit on grounds of (1) failure to fulfill contractual obligations, (2) inhumane treatment in violation of any convention on human rights, and (3), because it is more or less a default claim in any complaint that comes before the Court of Petty Appeals, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

First, the bargain between the Student Body and the Faculty is pretty clear.  In consideration for the dozens of millions of tuition dollars the Student Body pays each year—or, more accurately, the dozens of millions of dollars of debt the Student Body accrues each year—the Student Body not only is relieved of the heavy, heavy burden of having a soul,5 these being held in abeyance by Uncle Sam for the foreseeable future,6 it is taught and assessed by a Faculty of mostly pretty stellar legal scholars.7 While the individual members of the Student Body would welcome personalized thoughts regarding course performance in lieu of mere comparison to fellow members of the Student Body, the Student Body long ago conceded that letter grades are a more efficient means of issuing this assessment. However, the emphasis on efficiency was clearly never intended to be one-sided; i.e., it was never intended to benefit solely the Faculty such that the Faculty might choose to enjoy the holiday season so cruelly denied the Student Body and then, in the ensuing weeks, kick back recovering from all those arduous parties (as the Student Body remains hung up on exams) before hastily assigning everybody B+’s with a smattering of A-’s and B’s, maybe even an A+ or, heaven forbid, a B-.  Any interpretation by the Faculty in line with such is clearly in bad faith, and any action in accordance with such interpretation is a breach of contract.  The evidence presented not allowing for any other explanation,8 the Court has no choice but to find breach of contract by the Faculty, or, in the alternative, bad faith in forming said contract and then accepting really rather horrendous sums of money from the already impecunious Student Body without any intent to issue timely assessments as reasonably expected.

The second claim brought by the Student Body reflects the perils of tardiness particularly neatly.  You see, not only is inhumane treatment a claim with merit, it is a claim the Student Body had opportunity to study in greater detail over the many, many, many weeks of winter vacation.  In particular, learning about the comparatively frivolous claims which succeed before the EU Court of Human Rights in a J-term which may well be graded before fall semester grades are all posted9 inspired this claim.  Without further ado or analysis of U.S. law regarding violation of human rights—torture is banned pretty much everywhere, and obvi making a bunch of high strung students10 wait, oh, over a month for a single grade is torture—this Court finds that the Faculty has violated the Student Body’s basic human rights.  Maybe this knowledge is limited to normal humans,11 but quick life lesson: the whole point of an endurance contest—such as finals—is that at the end (because yes, there is an end), there is some measurable satisfaction, even if it is only identifiable conclusion of the contest allowing participants to know that they have survived.12

With respect to the Student Body’s third claim of IIED, obviously the Faculty’s inaction is intentional, obviously it’s extreme if it’s not just 1Ls who are upset, this Court is outraged,13 and it’s all the Faculty’s fault.  A few days in which to move on from first semester grades, be it by coming to terms with lousy ones and mourning futures no longer possible,14 or by celebrating that one A- in a sea of B+’s, is only an unreasonable request from the standpoint of gosh, that’s really so very little to ask after beasting through weeks of finals and then weeks of anxious waiting before resuming months of tedious studying and then doing it all over again.

On the matter of damages, the Student Body will never be able to relive Winter Break 2017-18 and celebrate whatever holidays in truly peaceful fashion.  It is impossible to assign a numerical value to such lost experiences; therefore, this Court has no choice but to award equity in the form of A’s for all.  With regard to this award, all parties hereto shall be bound by a gag order in order that the firms don’t realize we’re not all little geniuses.

Blah blah it is so ordered.

JUSTICE MALKOWSKI, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

I join nearly all of my colleague’s insightful opinion. I write separately to note the inaccuracy of the claim that the entire Student Body is relieved of the burden of a soul as part of its agreement with the Faculty. As has been pointed out to her periodically since a 2005 episode of South Park, this Justice (and similarly situated redheads) has never actually been in possession of a soul of which to be relieved.

In addition to the damages prescribed above, this Justice proposes that the grading process be treated in the following manner moving forward: fall term grades should be released if at all possible within five business days of New Year’s Day. The Student Body frankly would not like to see them any sooner, as this would imply you didn’t actually read our novella of stream-of-consciousness sentences,15 and this would cause the tenuous illusion of the academic social contract holding our frail bodies together to shatter into a billion pieces. 

In the event this is not possible, the Faculty should adopt the policy (hereinafter the “Amtrak System”) of periodically releasing the following unsolicited message: “This semester’s grade anticipation train making stops in panic, anxiety, and identity crisis will be delayed. There will be no estimate of the delay. Information will be provided as it is available but probably never.” In fact, really get into it. Throughout the break, interrupt our sole period of respite to remind us that you have not graded anything yet and in fact have no intention of hurrying things along. Keep us on edge! Send out mysterious announcements via Canvas to the tune of Amtrak’s “This is just an estimate, but we will be very late leaving the station and then likely also be behind the local commuter train the rest of the way. Again, this is just an estimate. Things are probably much worse.” Send out a few emails with the subject line “Grades” but with no content. Consider including an audio file of unintelligible noises that we can spend hours trying to open. Start a rumor that grades HAVE been posted and then watch as days at a time are laid to waste by a whole new strain of anxiety. Take my word for it: law students will LOVE this. We were hoping you would drag out the thrill of exams for as long as possible and frankly live for the excitement.

JUSTICE JANI, dissenting. 

Yeah, I’m gonna have to dissent, if only to protect my second-semester grades. Also, it seems like someone’s blood sugar was running a bit high after eating a few too many waffles. Or maybe my Sister Zablocki forgets that in this country we prioritize individual liberty and the right of professors to party. We don’t need this oppressive interference from a Justice, drunk on brioche bread dough and unfluoridated water, issuing rulings from a strange and foreign land.

This claim should be dismissed for lack of standing. The body of glorious and wonderful professors at the Virginia School of Law (vivat in aeternum) is not the entity that sets the due date of grades. This responsibility lies with the Registrar’s Office.  This court has already ruled that professors are allowed to party. (See Frightened 1L v. Professor Who Looked at Him at Alley Light) (“Professors are not immune from the urge to drink away the PTSD of seeing the same gunnery, shrill students in their offices every day.”) This court has also granted the protection of the I’m Rich, Bitch doctrine, extended to 3Ls returning from their BigLaw summers, to professors. (Broke 2L v. Professor Johnston) (“You should be so lucky to attend a school at which your professor can publicly bemoan the sale of his ski cottage for a loss. Would you rather go to Georgetown?”). UVa Law’s tax professors are undoubtedly taking advantage of this protection. Therefore, professors cannot be held liable for delaying grades as long as they are permitted to do. Finally, the Code of Conduct for Justices of this august Court should be amended to discourage the overuse of footnotes. I know we were all thinking it.


1 Timely graders seem to be the exception rather than the rule; therefore, defendants shall be referred to as “the Faculty.”

2 So many members of the Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 have complained through so many media, the Court has been compelled to write a decision from Ghent, Belgium. From a hostel. From, importantly—though likely only for the Court, always denied such privilege in childhood—the top bunk.

3 And in fact, the Student Body acknowledges that seeing the (maybe?) forthcoming grades will somehow, defying all rules of physics and metaphysics, result in a deeper plunge into despair.

4 This is the system that is supposed to be used to communicate grades to students, in case confusion about how to do so is what’s holding any professors up.

5 Say what you will, soullessness can only be an asset in Big Law.

6 Please, PLEASE no one say it is Uncle Don who has grabbed these now. Life is cruel enough.

7 This Court will name names of those more, ah, terrestrial teachers only if compelled by subpoena, forms for which may not be found on the Court’s website. Although the Court will note that, as always, Professor Mitchell remains a shining beacon for all professorial sort and got his grades out almost before the twelfth day of Christmas.

8 Surprise, surprise, the Faculty failed to even acknowledge the Student Body’s complaint in a timely manner, so the evidence is primarily in the form of absence of grades as of the end of J-term.  What do the Faculty do all day??

9 This Court has faith in you, Madame Goré.  But even if not, French pastry atones for a multitude of sins.

10 Have you seen any truly easygoing law students? Because this Court hasn’t. Ever.

11 I.e., those not scarred by law school and then also by years of tenure-tracking.

12 Again, this Court KNOWS there might be no satisfaction in the grades received. That’s a case for another day.

13 The person on the bottom bunk probably is, too, at this point. 

14 Don’t spend too much time on this—Career Services is that magical.

15 We recognize that the Faculty will likely still not read them, but we’d like you to at least play along.


Hot Bench: Alex Viner '20

1.  Have you ever had a nickname? What?

Just Alex. Having a unisex nickname used to bother me, but I’ve embraced it as I got older.

2.  What is your favorite word? 

Currently “tragic”, inspired by the Kim Kardashian gif in iMessage. I definitely overuse it with a sarcastic connotation on a daily basis (i.e. in response to my roommate telling me he rammed his head into the wall as he sneezed).

3.  Where did you grow up?

Brooklyn, New York, although when asked in person, you’ll often hear me say “South Brooklyn”. Just as Manhattan is comprised of tons of entirely different areas/neighborhoods, so is Brooklyn, and I like to be very specific about the region of Brooklyn I claim.

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

Matt Bomer. High-key stalked him as he was filming White Collar while I was in high school, but I’d love to be able to sit down and actually have a conversation with him. There are various elements of his background that are similar to those of mine, and, in spite of his talent and striking features, he expresses traits that I value, which are uncommon among most celebrities.

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

Another tough one - I listen to music 24/7, so it’s super hard to pick one song to have to listen to non-stop, but I guess I wouldn’t be opposed to it being Call on Me by Eric Prydz. I haven’t gotten tired of it since hearing it for the first time about 10 years ago, and it’s a great walking/working out song (and a good one to dance to as well). 

6.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Probably invisibility. I’m a huge people watcher, and it’d be great to get away with staring at people for prolonged periods of time without appearing as creepy as I actually am.

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

-One of the most stressful experiences of my life was an Uber ride in Miami.

-I once walked headfirst into a pole and apologized to it.

-I’m an avid Game of Thrones fan.

The last one is the lie. Sorry GOT lovers - you can’t kill off a dire wolf on camera and expect me to continue watching. Kill off as many people as you’d like, just leave the doggies alone.

8.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Amsterdam. I studied abroad there in the summer of 2015 and fell in love. In fact, an ideal five/ten-year plan would involve my working at The Hague for a while. I’d be elated.

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

My first dog, Lucky. My parents got him for me on my 13th birthday, after years of begging them for a dog, and he’s been my best friend since day one. One of the hardest parts about law school is being away from him, but I know he’s in better hands at home than he is here.

10.  If the Law School had yearbook awards, what would you want to win? 

Probably “most stylish”. Might not be as significant in law school as it was in high school, though. 

11.  If you could know one thing about your future, what would it be?

My best friend and I have a pact that, if we are both 35 and single, we will get married and start a family of our own. So, I’d be curious to see if that’s how my future will actually play out.

12.  Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?

 Close call, but *NSYNC.

No one should be allowed to walk slowly in Times Square. Trust me, it would be a lot more enjoyable for everyone, tourists and natives alike, if everyone were required to keep a certain pace.


Court of Petty Appeals: Custodial Staff v. Three Gallons, More or Less, of Store-Brand Ice Cream

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court is comprised of four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to

Custodial Staff v. Three Gallons, More or Less, of Store-Brand Ice Cream

17 U. Va. 413 (2017)

GOLDMAN, C.J., joined by VANDERMEULEN, J.  HOLMES, J. writes separately, concurring. 

 Exhibit A courtesy of the  Law Weekly .

Exhibit A courtesy of the Law Weekly.

This court has long been asked to rule on what food may or may not be left on the free food table. We usually leave such determinations to SBA, as this Court generally ascribes to the doctrine of “all food is good food.” That is, until this case which was brought to us by the esteemed custodial staff because “enough is enough.” We, of course, seized on this rare opportunity to exercise our in rem jurisdiction.

On Friday, November 17, at approximately 7p.m., a pink carton filled approximately three-quarters full of melted vanilla ice cream was left on the free food table along with several paper cups and spoons. 

The free food table is the last frontier of lawlessness at the Law School. Generally governed by the reasonably prudent students who attend this institution, the table plays host to extra food and snacks placed there by organizations after mid-day events they host.  We find this acceptable, and indeed desirable, because if there is food, it is generally taken during the ten-minute interval between classes in the afternoon. Supplying extra food to the hungry students of UVa Law serves an important public service, so the existence of the table is not at issue. 

There are two problems at issue in this case. First is the timing of the dropping off of food. The accepted practice is to leave food on the table during class change or during times of high density of hungry law students (for instance, after 5 p.m. classes let out during the week). 

Second is the content of the food. The dropping of highly sought-after food such as non-perishable candy, Zoe’s Kitchen catering, Sticks, pizza of any kind, and Ivy Provisions is nearly always acceptable. 

Ice cream that was half melted when it arrived at the table is next-level egregious. First, nobody wants to eat half-melted ice cream. Second, those desperate souls still at the Law School on the Friday before Thanksgiving Break are not lucid enough to neatly pour the melted ice cream into the flimsy paper cups and subsequently got the goop all over the table and the carpet beneath the table, and they continued to drip it down the hallway. 

Both situations are disgusting, and nobody should have to deal with this, especially the custodians who work all through the night to clean up after us on a regular basis. Really, this is a law school! We aren’t dissecting cadavers; we sit in desks with textbooks and type on Microsoft Word. The amount of dirt and trash we leave all around this school is shameful and perplexing. We can’t blame everything on the undergrads.

 This Court believes the free food table is the greatest example of collegiality and integrity at this school, and so we will not allow it to be hijacked by melted, sticky ice cream. This ruling is narrow, and should not be construed to cause a chilling effect on any potential food to be left on the free food table. 

The ice cream is hereby ordered impounded and returned to the nearest freezer. And you know what, we’re going to do some equity too. Members of the Law School community are hereby enjoined from placing melty ice cream on the free food table. Students and faculty: We sentence you to do some soul searching as to why this place gets so gross. 

HOLMES, J., sitting by designation, concurring in the judgment:

I concur with the result that the majority has reached, and I write separately to explain my own reasoning. Amici have claimed that no one could foresee that any ice cream would so long remain as to melt, and further, that by providing a gift to the students at large, the greater good of society was so served as to outweigh by far the “risk,” as they term it, that the ice cream would make an unpleasant mess. In so offering, they attempt to practice sophistry upon the Court.

Every gift comes pregnant with the hidden seed of burden, as the shrewd kings of Siam, who bankrupted their enemies by gifting them, in pretense of tribute, with the exacting care of white elephants, knew so well. Here was just such a case. The ice cream, if not carried away and eaten entirely within the hour, would melt, and cease to be a delicacy but become a sticky mess whose removal would fall to the hands of the cleaners, the plaintiffs here; and equally evidently, this burden would fall upon them without a chance to sample the treat in its delicious frozen state. It was incumbent, evidently, upon them from whose hands the ice cream passed to provide prudently for its timely removal—or else, not to leave it at all. This they did not do; and having called their tune, the law will have them pay the piper.

In a few cases, it is true, the law does not demand the detached reflection of the reasonable man in he who acts. But nowhere was there here the Thuggee’s upraised knife or the speeding train to demand instant action unchecked by the patient deliberations of the reasoned mind. By the operation of natural law the ice cream would in time decongeal, escape its container, and do mischief where it fell. Foreseeing that consequence, the law says that it was incumbent upon the defendants to prevent this at their peril.

Perhaps those who left the bucket on the table did not foresee that the spoons they left would not suffice to carry away the melting treat, or that, late on a Friday when dismissed from classes, few would remain in the halls to eat it before the fatal moment of dribbling. They are as liable as if they had; the law is the measure of every man, and the sacrifice of those who do not meet this measure we must exact, or else turn forever from the path of the law.


Hot Bench: Amy Cameron Duncan '19

Amy Cameron Duncan ‘19 


1. Where can you find the best margarita in NYC? 

Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s the best margarita in New York, but my favorite place to drink a margarita in New York is Lucky Dog in Brooklyn. Because, really, what’s better than drinking a ridiculously gigantic margarita in a backyard surrounded by thirty dogs?

2. What is your favorite word?  

Petrichor. It means the smell that comes after a rain. 

3. Where did you grow up? 

All around the DC area, but I went to high school in Alexandria, VA. 

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

Dame Helen Mirren because she kicks a lot of ass and generally seems like she would be an incredibly good time.

5. What event are you most excited for on the UVa calendar? 

The PILA Shaping Justice Conference! That’s mostly a shameless plug because I’m co-directing it with Ryan Snow, but I think it’s really going to be incredible this year.

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

Picking one song to play in the background forever sounds absolutely horrendous, but I have been listening to “Ran” by Future Islands pretty much constantly for the past few weeks…

7. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I have always wished that I had the power to fluently speak the native language of anyone I met, including the ability to understand jokes and idioms. I’m not exactly sure what kind of superhero that would make me, but it’s a power that I’ve always wished I had.

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

2L is harder than 1L for a lot of people. Apparently they don’t like to tell 1Ls that for fear that they’ll drop out, but I think I’d have preferred to know know. And on that note, don’t be afraid to get involved, but also don’t take on leadership to know. And on that note, don’t be afraid to get involved, but also don’t take on leadership positions unless you are actually excited about doing the work associated with them.

9. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Berlin, though I don’t have a good explanation as to why.

10. What’s your least favorite sound? 

My alarm.

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

My grandmother sent me a $100 chipotle gift card out of the blue right before finals last year and it was AMAZING.

12. Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?

Boyz II Men. Seriously, they were just better. I saw them in Philly this summer and they’re still incredible.

13. What is the best concert you have ever been to?

I got super lucky a few years back and randomly ended up at this party that Talib Kweli was performing at.  Seeing one of my favorite artists in such a small setting was pretty unbeatable.

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

No posting “facts” that have no basis whatsoever in actual fact on social media.

Court of Petty Appeals: Class Talkers. v. Trash Talkers

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court is comprised of four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to

Class Talkers v. Trash Talkers, 70 U. Va. 482 (2017)

GOLDMAN, C.J., joined by HALL and JANI, JJ.  

The Court certifies two classes of individual students regarding the same issue: talking in class. The trial court consolidated both the classes of plaintiffs and defendants together in classes referred to as “Trash Talkers” and “Class Talkers.” Trash talkers were awarded summary judgment in an opinion by Judge Ranzini that stated simply: “Please shut up.” The Class Talkers appealed. Upon appeal, this esteemed Court took the case to resolve this contentious issue once and for all. 

The facts are not disputed, are identical in each case, and are as follows:

At various points in class, Class Talkers will audibly and sarcastically make disruptive noises such as signs, snorts, cackles, laughs, and gestures such as nodding their heads vigorously, turning to the students seated next to them to make a comment, and will generally make their approval or disapproval of a statement made by a professor and/or student known by means too numerous to cite in this opinion. 

The Trash Talkers are the consolidated complaints by students, professors, faculty, and custodial staff who are “annoyed and offended by the snide comments” or have otherwise “been personally victimized by the Class Talkers.” 

The Trash Talkers claim that judgmental noises are a distraction from class to the point where they are effectively barred from meaningful participation. 

The Trash Talkers bring these claims under our Doctrine of Decent Behavior.

To decide whether claims fall under the Doctrine of Decent Behavior, we must first decide whether the behavior is “annoying.” Because most of our cases turn on this determination, we have established the Chief Justice Haden’s Annoyance Test: Would a reasonably prudent law student (1) roll their eyes at the behavior, (2) find the behavior in question disruptive, and/or (3)(a) irritating, (3)(b) bothersome, (3)(c) nettlesome, (3)(d) vexing, (3)(e) or any other synonym for the word ‘annoying’ found on Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Furthermore, this Court may deem any behavior annoying. We know it when we see it.1

The Trash Talkers allege that the Class Talkers’ behavior meets every prong of our test, as they unanimously roll their eyes at the defendants and have stated that the behavior impedes their ability to learn and fully participate in class for fear of mockery by the Class Talkers. This Court agrees: This behavior is unequivocally annoying. 

Appellants contest that their behavior is involuntary and that by their nature as law students they “have an uncontrollable urge to demonstrate our superior intellect to everyone within our vicinity at all times.” 

Appellants have not persuaded the Court that this is an actual ailment. They failed to produce a single doctor’s note stating this particular affliction, Student Affairs does not accommodate for “being an asshole,” and a majority of students at this school have the ability to control offensive outbursts, at least during class time. 

Now, for our favorite part: damages.

If one does not feel free to fully participate or learn in class it is as if they did not attend that class at all. Tuition for the 2017-2018 year for a nonresident is $61,300 2 per year (not including books and supplies, rendered useless because what’s the point if you can’t concentrate in class?). The Trash Talkers note that the Class Talkers are more subdued in classes such as Civil Procedure with Professor Nelson and Federal Courts with Professor Jefferies, where all students, even Class Talkers, are too afraid to make sudden movements. Those classes should be subtracted from the total owed to Trash Talkers.

The violation of the Doctrine of Decent Behavior is clear. The Honorable Chief Justice of the Court and the Honorable Associate Justices (oyez!) have even felt mockery and distress from the behavior of the Class Talkers. Though the Appellees didn’t ask for this, we also find the behavior illegal and have written and affirmed our own cease and desist letter to the Class Talkers. In the future, if the Class Talkers are so anxious that they absolutely must say something, we suggest using iMessage like everyone else. 

We remand back to Judge Ranzini to calculate the monetary damages because we hate math. Give the Trash Talkers something for IIED, we trust your discretion. 


ZABLOCKI, J., concurring in part, concurring in the judgment, and dissenting in part: To the extent the Honorable Chief Justice of the Court and the Honorable Associate Justices are collectively included in the class of Trash Talkers, I dissent. In my personal experience, certain Justices have inflicted injury as Class Talkers in the past (*cough, cough* Jani, J.). With respect to our Honorable Chief Justice’s judgment, however, I concur: SHUT THE F*** UP, EVERYONE.

VANDERMEULEN, J., dissenting

I agree with my esteemed colleague, THE CHIEF JUSTICE, in nearly all the sentiments expressed by her opinion for the Court. Class Talkers are surely a plague upon all right-thinking people, but are they not protected by the Constitution of these great United States? The emanations and penumbra of the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-First Amendments surely protect the right of jerks to be jerks. I would echo what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes beautifully wrote in the seminal Buck v. Bell: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Does not the security of our glorious nation rely upon the freedom of individuals? See Korematsu v. United States; Cf. Minersville School District v. Gobitis, rightfully restricting Jehovah’s Witnesses from handing out handbills. (“National unity is the basis of national security. To deny the legislature the right to select appropriate means for its attainment presents a totally different order of problem from that of the propriety of subordinating the possible ugliness of littered streets to the free expression opinion through handbills.”) Lochner v. United States guides this court’s jurisprudence. If New York bakers cannot be forced to work fewer than 80 hours per week, can gunnery 1Ls be forced to shut their pieholes? I am forced to conclude, with great reliance upon stare decisis, that they cannot.


1 Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (Stewart, J., concurring).





Dr. Kate Gibson: Lawyer-Counselor to Future Lawyers

Ali Zablocki '19
Arts Editor

Dr. Kate Gibson, J.D., Psy.D., is at UVa Law because of a sharp yet deliberate shift in career path and life outlook. After receiving her law degree from Harvard Law School, Dr. Gibson followed the natural route of many students of top law schools, beginning her career in the Washington, D.C. office of the firm now known as WilmerHale. Dr. Gibson practiced corporate law, work she described as law on a macro level. With a laugh, she added that it was fun to spot ads for the companies whose deals she was working on around town. However, the Big Law pace of life was as grueling then as it is now. Family health issues compounding this existing stress eventually prompted Dr. Gibson to reconsider her path. 

 Illustration courtesy of Charles Schultz.

Illustration courtesy of Charles Schultz.

This reevaluation led Dr. Gibson to the realization that she found working with clients on an individual level most fulfilling. Personal experience piquing her interest in clinical psychology, Dr. Gibson tested this potential new career through volunteer work. Even considering such a change was a big step; Dr. Gibson describes herself as an “incrementalist,” just as do many law students, for whom diverting from the clear path ahead is often a challenge. However, feeling that it was her vocation, she applied for and matriculated to The George Washington University’s professional psychology doctorate program. This program in clinical psychology allows candidates to focus their studies on clinical work; there is no dissertation component or pharmacological training (only psychiatrists are able to prescribe). 

In 2006, Dr. Gibson joined the staff of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on Main Grounds as a predoctoral intern. She remained after receiving her doctorate, working at CAPS until heading north to the Law School three years ago. In contrast with CAPS, where students, from first-year undergrad to doctoral candidate are served by a much larger organization, Dr. Gibson has found working at the Law School means focusing on a single, more distinct community. This has afforded her greater flexibility in working with students, who in turn tend to have more in common, and the chance to learn the rhythms of the Law School. Dr. Gibson remarked that working at the Law School has been a unique opportunity to combine both phases of her career arc; vivid memories of the stress of 1L grades and summer job hunting give her what she described as a head start in understanding law student stress, although she also suggested that changes in the legal profession have only increased this pressure in the intervening years. She enjoys working with a student body which she described as bright and rich in life experience, but also with an administration she has found to be smart, competent, and, perhaps most importantly, very invested in its students.

Having recently surpassed a decade of Charlottesville living, Dr. Gibson describes the town as much smaller than where she previously lived, but as punching above its weight in terms of the arts, speakers, and things going on in general. Though characterizing herself as more of a spectator than a participant, Dr. Gibson is an avid supporter of the arts, mentioning the Paramount Theater and Heritage Theatre Festival (UVa Drama’s summer theatre program) as particular favorites. She also enjoys exploring the history and environs surrounding Charlottesville, where the mountainous landscape contrasts sharply with that of Massachusetts, where she grew up, and sampling Charlottesville’s ever-expanding restaurant scene (her favorite is Bang!). When she has a chance to relax, Dr. Gibson is an enthusiastic reader, preferring to mix novels and history books.

As we enter the holiday season, one of the most stressful times of the year even without finals looming, and students’ hours spent studying and anxiety both crest, Dr. Gibson also enters a busy period. Dr. Gibson emphasized that she tries her utmost to make time for all students who seek her counsel, and maintains a daily open hour from 2:00 until 3:00 P.M. In terms of services offered, she provides one-on-one counseling sessions, and maintains a referral list of other therapists and psychiatrists in the broader Charlottesville community who may be better able to provide services on a longer-term basis. Dr. Gibson also noted that law students have access to CAPS on Main Grounds, including their crisis services (in-office from 8:00 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. daily, with phone availability after hours) and excellent group programs.

Advice for anyone at any time of the year? “As a general rule, humans do better when connected authentically.” While being able to talk openly to whomever, be it a friend, family member, or professional, may not be a magic solution, it most definitely is helpful.