Virginia

After revisiting the Tail End, I realized that there’s only one way to keep me honest about how I’m spending my limited reading time: transparency. So I’m going to start keeping a public list of what I’m reading. As an added benefit, every time I stumble across something good I can let you all know.

With that background, here’s last month’s list:

SCOVA recently granted an appeal in Norton v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax CountyRecord No. 201028. Here are the assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred in dismissing Count VIII of the Second Amended Complaint because the Airbnb Hosts produced probative evidence that the Board’s adoption of the STL Zoning Ordinance was unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious where the Board failed to give reasonable consideration for the existing use of property as required by Virginia Code § 15.2-2284 and where the Board offered no evidence (and there was no evidence) of reasonableness to make the issue fairly debatable.

2. The trial court erred in dismissing Counts IV and V of the Second Amended Complaint because the Board’s STL Zoning Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and violates the Airbnb Hosts’ procedural and substantive due process rights under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, as incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, by allowing short-term residential occupancy as a by-right use without a permit but also characterizing short-term residential occupancy as an accessory use subject to mandatory permitting requirements.

3. The trial court erred in dismissing Count III of the Second Amended Complaint because the Board’s adoption of the Transient Occupancy Tax Amendment violates Dillon’s Rule because Virginia Code § 58.1-3819 does not authorize the Board to tax the short-term residential occupancy of a dwelling.

Why is this interesting? Three reasons (none of which have anything to do with Airbnb).

I always hate it at CLEs when people say things like, “There’s no good writing. Only good editing.” Sure, a first draft is just that, and that you can’t compare your first cut at a brief with another writer’s finished product. 10-4. But how are you supposed to get from that first draft to the finished product? Like, mechanically, what are you supposed to do? In GTD parlance, what is the next physical, visible action?

For years, I didn’t know. So I would just print out my brief and read it, and edit, over and over again. How would I know that I was done? Either I would run out of time, or I would get to the point that I was reversing changes from an earlier iteration.

This was a deeply stupid approach. And it took forever.

I’ve gotten a little better at this over the years. Here’s how:

I don’t usually get surprised at legal-writing CLEs. But I got surprised this morning.

For context, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel  at the VADA’s annual meeting this morning. Justice McCulloughJudge Carson, and Erin Ashwell sat on the panel, which addressed practical legal-writing tips. If you know these folks, then you know that they have varied and fascinating life experiences. We ignored them. Instead of talking about, say, growing up in Marseille (Justice McCullough) or spending summers in the Catskills as a California kid (Judge Carson) or writing novels (Erin), we focused on my idiosyncratic tics and obsessions. You’re welcome, VADA!

Juli Porto has an article in this morning’s VTLAppeal, Is There a New Sheriff in Town Named “A.H. Tingler”?, analyzing SCOVA’s subtle importation of Twiqbal through A.H. v. Church of God in Christ, Inc. and Tingler v. Graystone Homes, Inc. Thoughtful and recommended. Among other things, Juli notes that the Court cited Twiqbal in A.H., then cited A.H. in Tingler as if it had always been Virginia law. She points out: