Because this blog is focused on qui tam litigation in Virginia, we have had occasion to discuss the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia numerous times throughout the years. The majority of my practice–qui tam and otherwise–is in the E.D.Va., and in my opinion there is no finer place to file a qui tam action. Apparently, I am not alone in holding this opinion, because the E.D.Va. consistently ranks in the top U.S. District Courts for new qui tam filings.
Most people know of the Eastern District as the “rocket docket” and to be sure, the E.D.Va. is the fastest U.S. District Court in the land, by far. While can obtain hard-data to verify that the E.D.Va. is the fastest U.S. District Court anywhere, other aspects of practice here are considerably less quantifiable. For example, I firmly believe that practitioners in the E.D.Va. are, on average, more skilled and more professional than those in other courts.
Each court of course has its own unique legal culture and unique traditions, and observing them is one of fascinating things about practicing in multiple jurisdictions. As I have mentioned before, I think it is the legal culture of the E.D.Va. that make practice here so demanding but at the same time so enjoyable.
Aside from the local rules of a court (which normally capture the more substantive elements of a legal culture) much or perhaps all of the unique traditions and unique culture of any given court are unwritten. Much of it is, in fact, passed along through what some people call lawyer war-stories and what anthropologists call “oral story telling.” The problem with oral story telling is that the stories are likely to change or morph or even become lost entirely as time passes.
We are fortunate, therefore, to have an amazing new custodian of our unique legal culture and history in the form of the Historical Society for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The first project of the Historical Society of the E.D.Va. was recently completed in the form of John O. Peters’ book From Marshall to Moussaoui: Federal Justice in the Eastern District of Virginia.
I encourage all my readers to check out the Historical Society’s web site and to read Mr. Peters’ new book…and stay tuned for a review of this important new work.