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Two courts find fees unconstitutional

Two days. Two rulings that Virginia’s civil remedial fees are unconstitutional.

Yesterday, it was Henrico General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III, who acknowledged that he is obliged to enforce the law if there is any rational basis for it. However, “The court rejects the speculations postulated by the Commonwealth, and mindful of its of its own obligation to do so, has exhausted its speculation quotient in trying to conceive of any others,” Yeatts wrote.

Today it was Richmond General District Judge Thomas O. Jones, who said, “The court finds that there is no rational speculation to support the distinction between [resident] and non-resident ‘dangerous’ drivers where the purpose of the statute is to generate revenue.” He called the constitutional analysis “an absolute no-brainer.”

A more complete story of Yeatts’ case and a link to his opinion are at www.valawyersweekly.com. The two rulings will go to the respective circuit courts for the expedited review mandated by Code § 16.1-131.1.

Meanwhile, as The Daily Progress reports in an article by Bob Gibson, outrage at the fees continues to mount with 171,000 signatures on online petitions to remove them, and politicians up for re-election in November talking about “tweaking” or repealing them.

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