Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Virginia handed down a batch of eighteen opinions and two published orders. One of them, Shapiro v. Younkin, provides a lucid, well-reasoned treatment of the rules regarding transcripts and written statements of fact.

Please ignore it in its entirety. To paraphrase one of Caroline’s favorite writers, there is a monster at the end of this opinion.


At issue in Shapiro was whether the circuit court erred by dismissing a plaintiff’s appeal from the general district court because the plaintiff had failed to secure a court reporter, in violation of the circuit court’s rule requiring that a court reporter be present at the trial of all civil cases.

Shapiro brought a landlord-tenant suit against Younkin in general district court, proceeding pro se. He lost and appealed to the circuit court, where he also appeared pro se. The court’s local rules required that a court reporter be present at all civil trials, and that a party appealing a GDC case arrange to have a court reporter present at the circuit court trial.

Shapiro failed to arrange for a court reporter, so the circuit court dismissed his appeal with prejudice. Later that day, Shapiro submitted a written statement of facts. The trial court declined to enter the statement. Instead, it wrote on the face of the document that the statement did not accurately reflect the events at trial, which were noted in the court’s order.

[Are you still reading? Because there is a monster at the end of this opinion.]

Shapiro–still proceeding pro se–appealed to the Supreme Court. He argued that the dismissal of his case violated Code Section 17.1-128, which provides that the failure to secure a court reporter will not affect the proceeding or trial. He also claimed that the court violated Rule 5:11 by failing to certify his written statement of facts.


The Supreme Court agreed. It reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case, holding that the trial judge had violated both Code Section 17.1-128 and Rule 5:11.Continue Reading Please Ignore Shapiro v. Younkin. There Is a Monster at the End of This Opinion.