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Legal leaders urge judge to replace Morrogh in capital case

A letter signed by 59 former judges, former prosecutors, lawyers and law professors asks the judge in the revived Justin Wolfe capital murder case to remove Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh as special prosecutor.

Defense lawyers for Wolfe claim Morrogh is too cozy with Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert. They argue Ebert, the original prosecutor in the case, was discredited by the findings of a federal judge who threw out Wolfe’s conviction as tainted by prosecutorial misconduct.

Among those supporting the motion to disqualify Morrogh are former Virginia Attorneys General William G. Broaddus and Stephan D. Rosenthal. A number of Virginia attorneys also signed the letter, including nine former prosecutors.

According to the letter, the signers are troubled by Morrogh’s quick decision to retry Wolfe on capital murder charges. “This suggests a hurried decision in which the special prosecutor did not carefully examine the evidence to reach an independent conclusion about the case, but instead relied on the earlier deliberation of the Prince William County prosecutors,” the letter reads.

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31 on the motion to disqualify Morrogh as special prosecutor.

Morrogh said he could not comment because of ethical rules.

4 comments

  1. I don’t know too much about Mr. Wolfe’s criminal/retrial issue. However, I know and have known Ray Morrogh for many years. He is independent, upstanding and as honest as the day is long. Any suggestion to the contrary is likely to be unfounded.

  2. I echo the above observation: based on my knowing Ray Morrogh for many years the basis for the suggestion that he be disqualified from the Justin Wolfe case is surprising. I’ve known him to be fair and even-handed.

  3. Michael Valentine

    I am still trying to figure out what a former judge is. It could certainly be argued that Ray Morrogh’s predecessor, Bob Horan, was a close friend and generational peer of Paul Ebert (although what that has to do with it certainly is beyond me). Ray Morrogh’s motivation for going forward on a capital case is a curious topic for the bar to concern itself with. If he succeeds his motivation is irrelevant. If he fails it only subjects his legal acumen to scrutiny. Let the man do his job.

  4. Don’t know anything about Ray Morrogh’s motivitation or judgment in this case but his reputation for being a thorough and ethical professional is excellent. In contrast, I would suspect impaired judgment for any judge, prosecutor or attorney who opined on this subject where they can not possibly have the facts and analysis available to them that the special prosecutor has avaialbe to him. Also, not sure how the adversarial system is going to work if one side can get rid of the opposing counsel by attacking his motivation. Suspect many of these petition signers oppose the death penalty in which case they should petition the legislature not the trial judge.

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