Former Rep. Virgil Goode apparently has abandoned any plan to regain his 5th District seat in the House of Representatives.
The Roanoke Times, among others, reports Goode has released a statement saying he will not challenge Tom Perriello, who beat Goode by 727 votes to win the Congressional seat last year.
By Peter Vieth
Radford University religion professor Carter Turner today announced his bid to unseat House majority leader Morgan Griffith, R-Salem. Turner replaces Ginny Weisz as the Democrat on the ballot. Weisz withdrew from the race last week. The Roanoke Times notes Turner’s announcement here, but, for the real scoop, we went to RateMyProfessors.com. According to students’ ratings, Turner earned an overall quality score of 4.3 (out of 5), with a perfect “hotness” total of 5. His bio page shows he has an interest in “the religious and theological dimensions of the American Civil War.” An engagement of the candidates should prove interesting. By Peter Vieth
The criminal law subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee will meet Aug. 7 to discuss legislation that will be considered at the Aug. 19 special session of the General Assembly to address Melendez-Diaz v. Massachuetts.
That case, decided last month, holds that laboratory analysts generally must appear in court rather than submit their findings through a sworn report. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine called the special session because of concern that analysts for the Department of Forensic Science would be spending most of their time in court rather than analyzing blood samples, fingerprints, firearms and other evidence.
State commonwealth’s attorneys have formed a committee to study the issue with Hampton prosecutor Linda Curtis as chairman.
The most likely products of the special session appear to be a “notice and demand” statute of the type that the Supreme Court cited approvingly in Melendez-Diaz and a measure to alter state speedy trial laws so that any delay in scheduling a court appearance by an analyst would extend the time in which a defendant must be tried.
A “notice and demand” statute requires prosecutors to notify defendants that they intend to present a sworn report by an analyst. The analyst’s appearance is waived unless the defendant demands that he appear at trial.
By Alan Cooper
Sen. Ken Stolle hopes the General Assembly next month will consider approving restitution for a man wrongly imprisoned for 22 years.
Arthur Whitfield, released from prison almost five years ago, has since struggled with health issues, employment and finances. According to The Virginian-Pilot, Stolle drafted a bill that he hopes will go before the Assembly during a special session that begins Aug. 19. It calls for Whitfield to receive $445,703 in compensation for the two decades he spent behind bars.
Getting the bill before legislators will be a challenge, Stolle acknowledged, since Gov. Timothy M. Kaine called the special session only so legislators can amend state law dealing with how government forensic scientists are called to testify in criminal trials.
Some worry that making an exception for one bill could open the floodgates for other legislation and distract lawmakers from the issue at hand.
Eight Republicans have thrown hats into the ring for their party’s nomination to succeed Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton, reports The News Leader.
Saxman, a four-term veteran, surprised observers by announcing last week he was quitting the legislature to spend time on more personal projects.
A candidates forum is scheduled for Monday, according to the paper.
Speaking of crossing sides, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that several former Republican legislators say they’re backing Creigh Deeds for governor.
According to the article, the seven former legislators plan to join a group called “Virginians for Deeds.”
One of the memebers criticized McDonnell’s plan, saying it would be doomed from the start because it would take money from education to boost transportation spending.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine this morning called a special session of the legislature for Aug. 19 to address the problems created by Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.
Mark Rubin, counsel to the governor, said, “A legislative fix doesn’t cure the problem, but it will help us manage the problem.”
The problem is that the 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court appears to require prosecutors to have lab technicians appear in court to testify about the lab reports they have prepared unless the defendant waives their appearance.
State law now allows defense attorneys to subpoena those technicians, but they must present them as an adverse witness in the defense case rather than cross examine them in the prosecution’s case in chief.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion implies that the procedure doesn’t meet constitutional muster, but the high court has agreed to hear an appeal challenging Virginia’s procedure rather than send the case back to the court for consideration in light of Melendez-Diaz. That case was styled Magruder v. Commonwealth in the Supreme Court of Virginia, but is Briscoe v. Virginia on the U.S. Supreme Court docket.
At least one circuit court judge, Jane Roush of Fairfax County, has refused to consider a technician’s report in a drunken driving case and dismissed a DUI charge.Two general district judges in Fairfax have dismissed DUI cases because the technician who tested the breath machines was not present, even though the technician who performed the test was.
The legislature could consider other matters at the special session, but Rubin said the governor’s staff has conferred with key legislators and believes that the session will only take one day and that no other issues will be considered.
By Alan Cooper
Sheila Johnson, a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, is crossing party lines to endorse Republican Bob McDonnell for governor.
According to The Washington Post, Johnson, who chaired Gov. Kaine’s inaugural committee, said she believes the former attorney general is the better choice for spurring economic development.
Johnson’s opinion could be influential in the African American community, where Deeds has not seen as much support as previous Virginia Democrats running for governor.
Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton, abruptly announced today he is withdrawing from his bid for re-election to the House. According to newspapers in Staunton and Harrisonburg, Republicans expect to nominate Staunton councilman Richard P. “Dickie” Bell to take Saxman’s place on the November ballot.
Saxman, a four-term veteran of the House, explained his surprise decision by saying he wants to devote time to public service projects, including an advocacy group called School Choice Virginia.
Saxman’s withdrawal would appear to improve the odds for Democratic candidate Erik Curren.
By Peter Vieth
So you can’t make it to the gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association at its summer meeting at The Homestead, even though you’re a real political junkie.
Not a problem. The VBA plans to provide live streaming video over the Internet of the exchange between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. The video will be available at VirginiaTalks.com, a Web site that Style Weekly Inc. expects to launch soon. If you miss the live debate, it will be available in its entirety online through election day.
Viewers will be able to join in a simultaneous, online discussion during the debate and to submit questions that might be selected for presentation to the candidates.
A debate at the VBA’s summer meeting is the traditional kickoff to races for governor and U.S. Senate in Virginia. This one is set for July 25 at 11 a.m. with Rod Smolla, dean of the Washington and Lee University law school, as moderator.
Tags:Virginia Bar Association