On January 14, we finished a brief to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Arguing cases in the highest court of the state is always a time to do one’s best, and it gets started with the initial briefing.
Our client is a nationwide company who was being taxed locally on business property that it doesn’t believe should be taxed under Virginia law. (Virginia’s counties and cities tax businesses based on the value personal property located in their jurisdiction — the personal property tax — and on the gross receipts of their business — the BPOL tax. We have been litigating the matter in Virginia Beach, Chesterfield, Henrico, and several other jurisdictions. We won in Chesterfield and are waiting on judgments from Virginia Beach and Henrico. In the meantime, Chesterfield has appealed its loss to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
An appeal begins with a Notice of Appeal and a Petition for Appeal. The Supreme Court does not have to take cases. It can choose only ones it thinks are important. The other side can file an Opposition to the Petition for Appeal. Obviously, it is always better to go to the Supreme Court as the party who won below. Among other advantages, factual findings by the trial court are reviewed in the light most favorable to the winner in most instances.
After the Petition briefs are filed, the Court will call in the lawyers for an oral hearing on the Petition. If the Court grants the Petition, it will order a second round of briefs and set a final hearing date before issuing a ruling. This careful, deliberative process is good for decision-making.