The cruelest month gets off to an entertaining start, as the Supreme Court of Virginia releases its April argument docket. From April 12-16, the Court is set to hear six criminal cases, one VSB disciplinary board case, and 21 civil cases.

Of particular note, the Court will hear a pair of cases about the ownership of church property in Northern Virginia. I gather from the news coverage that the cases involve property held by parishes that left the Episcopal church, and challenge the constitutionality of Virginia’s unique “division statute,” Code Section 57-9(A). The Diocese of Virginia has put the briefs up on its website, but I am lazy I’ve been busy and have not yet had a chance to read them.

How cool are these cases? In one of them, George Somerville–he of standard-of-review fame–Troutman Sanders, and Professor Howard square off against . . . well, roughly everyone else with a law license. Here are the counsel in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al., Record No. 090682:

  • For the appellant, Bradfute W. Davenport, Jr.; George A. Somerville; Mary C. Zinsner; Joshua D. Heslinga; A.E. Dick Howard; Troutman Sanders.
  • For the appellees, Gordon A. Coffee; Gene C. Schaerr; Steffen N. Johnson; Andrew C. Nichols; Scott J. Ward; George O. Peterson; Tania M.L. Saylor; Mary A. McReynolds; James A. Johnson; Paul N. Farquharson; Scott H. Phillips; James E. Carr; E. Andrew Burcher; R. Hunter Manson; Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Attorney General; Charles E. James, Jr., Chief Deputy Attorney General; E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., State Solicitor General; Stephen R. McCullough, Senior Appellate Counsel; William E. Thro, Special Counsel; Winston & Strawn; Gammon & Grange; Peterson Saylor; Semmes, Bowen & Semmes; Carr & Carr; Walsh, Collucci, Lubeley, Emerick & Walsh.

And if that’s not enought, amici abound; there’s even a brief co-authored by Ken Starr.

Church and state? One-of-a-kind statutes? Publicly available briefs from a all-start lineup of advocates? It’s all almost too good to be true.