Federal Court of Appeals visits UVA Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals (of which there are only 12 in the country) visited the UVA Law School on October 3 and heard four cases handed up from the Fourth Circuit, which comprises Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The court’s first hearing in Virginia was an opportunity for the law students to learn, and the public to view some courtroom excitement, the likes of which few get to see outside of “Law & Order” reruns.
    Within the range of international trade and intellectual property cases typically heard by the Appeals court, the judges seemed to have dredged their case files to find the most entertaining. They included: a suit to determine if a man employed with the fire department was in enough peril to qualify him for firefighter’s benefits; an infringement suit against the Adidas company over shoe heels; and two patent suits, addressing whether a lighting company had violated a motion sensor patent and whether a pet treat trademark could be registered.
    As if the cases weren’t colorful enough, Chief Justice Paul R. Michel, Senior Judge S. Jay Plager and Judge Randall R. Rader were amusingly heavy on the judge-ly clichés, such as furrowing their brows and rubbing their foreheads arduously. The panel grilled attorneys on both sides, sometimes asking lawyers if they had even read their own files, and once thanked a talkative attorney for the opportunity to interrupt. The audience of mostly in-the-know lawyers and law students chuckled as the attorneys struggled to defend themselves.
    The Federal Court of Appeals covers cases dealing with international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain claims against the United States government, federal personnel and veterans’ benefits.—Meg McEvoy

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