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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anonymous (Whiny) 3L v. Court of Petty Appeals, and justices thereof, in their official capacity, but especially Chief Justice Goldman and Justice VanderMeulen
18 UVa. 642 (2017)
VANDERMEULEN, J., for the Court, in an opinion joined by GOLDMAN, C.J. and ZABLOCKI, J.
This case comes before this Court as part of our original jurisdiction1 from an anonymous, whiny 3L,2 seeking (1) damages against the Court of two opinions for our so-called failure to publish regular decisions or (2) an injunction requiring the Court to publish a best-of compilation of the Court’s best opinions.3 This Court won’t be intimidated by threats of damages4 but is intrigued by plaintiff’s request for equitable relief.
After a rambling, kidnapper-style introduction to her/his complaint, plaintiff gets to the heart of the matter: The Court, by failing to produce opinions in the two issues preceding plaintiff’s complaint has engaged in tortious behavior toward the plaintiff and breached an implied contract between the Court and the students of the Law School. Plaintiff is, to no one’s surprise, wrong on both fronts.
First, the Court will dispense with plaintiff’s spurious tort claim. As everyone knows, torts aren’t real.5 And if they were, plaintiff would find it impossible to show that all the elements of a tort have been met. Plaintiff claims he/she has been a victim of Intentional Affliction of Opinions Unread. Ha! Everyone knows that such a tort requires actual malice of the sort described in New York Times v. Sullivan, 367 U.S. 254 (1964)! To allege that this Court was malicious6—rather than merely lazy—in its refusal to pump out opinions is degrading and probably defamatory.7 Plaintiff’s complaint also lacks a showing of proximate cause. By now, even 1Ls will know that to give rise to a cause of action in tort, an injury must be part of the “harm within the risk” of an action. See That One Case with the Tree and the Truck and the Speeding Guy.8 When the Court declined to publish opinions in its editions of 20 September and 27 September, it did so knowing that it risked having too short a paper. That means the editors have to endure long nights suffering through Justice Jani’s abhorrent music taste. That is the harm within the risk of publishing too few opinions: covers of Disney songs sprinkled with an intolerable mix of Zac Brown and French Montana. The Court could not care less about the delicate feelings of Anonymous 3Ls, even loyal readers like this one.
Next, the contract claim. The Court’s memory of contract law is admittedly fuzzy,9 but it seems clear that the supposed implied contract is void for lack of consideration. The Court’s habit of publishing semi-regular opinions is a gift to the Law School and its denizens, like the benevolent brother-in-law’s promise of a forest shack to his dead brother’s wife in Kirksey v. Kirksey, 8 Ala. 131 (1845).10 Promises to make gifts, of course, are not enforceable as contracts. Despite plaintiff’s valiant efforts to portray her/himself as a victim of contractual malfeasance, no such claim will lie in this Court.
Still, we are not unsympathetic to plaintiff’s desire for decisions from this august body. How would the Law School function without this Court’s tireless dedication to adjudicating the disputes that arise on North Grounds? The Court, therefore, finds that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and the case is hereby dismissed. But out of its own magnanimity, the Court will indeed indulge in a “Best of the Court of Petty Appeals” series, to begin the week of 2 November. Congrats, Anonymous 3L.
MANN, J., concurring.
I concur with the majority, and agree that in no way has a tort claim been stated. By consuming this fine publication regularly, plaintiff has assumed the risk that the content might change from week to week, and that Justices11 may be occasionally too hungover to address the myriad issues that come before this court. Plaintiff’s claim of implied contract is straight out of crazy town as well, as no elements of a contract, implied or otherwise, exist. While this fine publication faithfully provides high-brow journalism, the drivel we get in return—mostly angry and misinformed emails – can hardly be construed as consideration.
KENNEDY, J., sitting by designation, concurring in the judgment
I write to specifically rebut the plaintiff’s bizarre presumption that “the fact that [the Court] has or has not had Bodo’s this morning [should not] have an effect on its ruling.” I often find that certain Court pronouncements should take effect on Tuesday with the right to change them on Wednesday. It gives Justices the flexibility to condemn their enemies without making any real decisions. And that is real justice.
1 See Rule of Petty Procedure 8(a): “If someone’s gonna bitch about the Court, we want to hear it directly.”
2 See Virginia Law Weekly, Volume 70, No. 6, 4 October 2017.
3 The Court won’t dignify with a response plaintiff’s request that President Glendon appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Court’s lack of recent decisions. Really? Him? After he LIED TO THE LAW SCHOOL about Duck Donuts? #GlendonsDonuts2017 #NeverForget
4 As if we could write any more of these damn opinions even if we wanted to.
5 Isn’t this roughly your thesis, Professor Ferzan?
6 Yeah yeah, Professor Abraham, we know “actual malice” doesn’t mean “ill will.” Must you continue to remind the Court of its inferiority? Wasn’t our C in Torts II enough?
7 Probably, we say, because we can’t actually remember anything Professor White said about Times, Gertz, or defamation law generally. Something something “public figure.”
8 Remember that one?
9 And consists mainly of references to an impending Canadian invasion and lizard cemeteries. Thanks, Professor Kordana.
10 The Court reserves for another day the question of whether Kirksey’s “female plaintiff loses” rule applies to the Law School generally.
11 No coincidence that Justice Jani couldn’t be found to contribute to this opinion.