E Duncan Getchell Jr Fourth Circuit Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s tough being a federal judicial nominee. Your entire legal career is gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and every mistake or misstep is brought to light, no matter how minor.
From the ABA Journal:

A lawyer nominated to a federal appeals court was lead attorney on an $8 million appeal that got tossed because the trial transcript was not filed by the deadline.

E. Duncan Getchell Jr. of McGuireWoods asked the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the appeal anyway, but the judges refused, the Virginian-Pilot reports. Getchell’s five-page brief did not explain the reason for the failure, except to say there was a “miscommunication or misunderstanding.”

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding about whether trial counsel or appellate counsel (Getchell) should have filed the transcript. From the Virginian-Pilot:

The fact that Getchell’s firm filed the post-trial motions three weeks after the verdict “kind of suggests the baton was passed,” said William S. Geimer, a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University Law School who teaches civil procedure.

“It’s definitely the law firm’s responsibility,” Geimer said. “I don’t see any way for the law firm to escape responsibility if it was even partly or jointly responsible for the failure.”

Getchell did not return repeated calls to his office.

The Fourth Circuit has been shorthanded for a while now. And with the nomination of Duncan Getchell, that probably won’t be changing anytime soon.
(Not necessarily because of this procedural snafu, but because Getchell’s two home-state senators — John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D) — don’t seem to be backing his nomination.)
Costly Error Linked to 4th Circuit Nominee [ABA Journal via Blogonaut]
Error in major case tied to federal judge nominee [Virginian-Pilot via How Appealing]
E. Duncan Getchell Jr. bio [McGuire Woods]


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