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Judge Marla Graff Decker

Aug 17, 2018

CAV: Marital share of company’s value matches ownership

The circuit court did not err in classifying only 30 percent of a litigation-support company’s increase in value during the course of an owner’s marriage as marital property. The court considered evidence as to whether the increase was due to the owner’s personal efforts as opposed to passive or market factors. Background Prior to the […]

Aug 17, 2018

CAV: Court had to value student loans as of couple’s split

For equitable-distribution purposes, the circuit court erred in failing to determine the amount of a husband’s student loans as of the date he and his wife separated. Under the circumstances, it was within its authority to re-open evidence on that issue. Background The parties married in 2006.  That year, Husband started a five-year doctoral program […]

Jun 29, 2018

CAV: Bench warrant for revocation hearing was proper

Under Code § 19.2-306, the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear the case against the appellant when it revoked her “indefinite” probation and ordered her to serve 90 days of her previously suspended sentence. Background Appellant Dorothy Cilwa was convicted of grand larceny on March 19, 2008, and received a suspended sentence conditioned on one […]

Jun 10, 2018

CAV: Terry stop resistance supported probable cause

The trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. His resistance to the efforts to handcuff him provided probable cause to arrest for obstruction of justice, thereby legitimizing the search of his person and the bundle he was carrying. Background In June 2017, Richmond Police Officer Kelly was dispatched in response to […]

Jun 3, 2018

CAV: Sentence enhancement for federal conviction improper

The trial court erred in finding that the federal statute underlying the defendant’s prior conviction for felony possession of a firearm was substantially similar to the state law under which the defendant was most recently convicted. Because the federal law encompasses conduct that would not constitute a violation of the state law, resentencing was required. […]

May 20, 2018

CAV: Court as factfinder could credit husband’s testimony

The circuit court’s equitable distribution and support determinations were not in error, and the wife didn’t proffer for the appellate record purported after-acquired evidence of additional property that could have merited reconsideration. Background The parties were married in 1999. Husband was a professional athlete but retired shortly after their second child was born in 2006. […]

May 20, 2018

CAV: Pro athlete’s line-of-duty benefits were like pension

For equitable distribution purposes, a retired professional athlete’s line-of-duty disability benefits were correctly evaluated similar to pension benefits under Code § 20-107.3(G), rather than personal injury compensation under subsection (H). Background The parties were married in 1999 and had two children. Husband was a professional athlete before and during the marriage but retired shortly [...]

May 8, 2018

CAV: Search proper pursuant to unchallenged warrant

The trial court should have denied defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found in a locked room in his house. Although officers entered the home without a warrant, they obtained one before entering the locked room. Background In March 2016, a Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office detective received information from an anonymous caller. The caller claimed that Appellee Clint Wayne […[...]

Apr 27, 2018

CAV: Trial court adequately investigated juror contact

Although security footage showed a juror talking with a member of the public who was later seen hugging the mother of the murder victim in the juror’s case, the trial court didn’t err in accepting the juror’s statement that they didn’t discuss the case. Background Appellant Stephen Rankin, a Portsmouth police officer, was charged with […]

Apr 2, 2018

CAV: Stolen item never found, but conviction upheld

Evidence was sufficient to support the concealment conviction of a man accused of stealing motorcycle gear from Walmart, even though the stolen gear was never recovered. Background Appellant Bronson Cunningham was in a Virginia Beach Walmart on the afternoon of September 30, 2015. After the store’s loss prevention officer, Christen Blake, noticed him carrying a […]

Mar 5, 2018

CAV: Claimed error in jury instructions harmless

Based on substantial evidence, the jury was not deprived of any discretion to decide whether a shooting victim had suffered a “permanent and significant impairment” based on implicit reference to a particular scar. Background Mario Vaughan was the victim of a shooting and immediately identified Appellant Kelvin Javon Watford as the perpetrator. As a result […]

Feb 27, 2018

CAV: Murder conviction upheld despite jury issues

Although the defendant sought to have his murder conviction set aside based on problems with the jury, the circuit court’s resolution of those issues was proper. Background Appellant James Willie Bethea’s 2015 trial for first-degree murder ended with a hung jury. He was retried in April 2016, and after deliberating for two days, the jury […]

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