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Judge Marla Graff Decker

Apr 26, 2022

Discharge for violating safety rules upheld

Where a university law enforcement officer was discharged for violating COVID-19 safety rules, there were no flaws in the administrative proceedings or the circuit court’s judicial review. Overview Appellee, George Mason University, hired appellant as a law enforcement officer. He was discharged for not complying with workplace COVID-19 safety protocols. GMU adopted a “Safe Return […]

Feb 14, 2022

Suppression motion denied in cigarette trafficking case

Appellant’s conviction for trafficking cigarettes is affirmed. The trial court correctly ruled that the circumstances of the initial traffic stop (for illegal window tint) justified an ongoing detention and a canine sniff that led to the discovery of untaxed cigarettes. Motion to suppress “The challenge to the denial of the motion to suppress rests on […]

Feb 8, 2022

Applicant’s false statement was perjury

Appellant’s false statement on a concealed weapon permit application was perjury. The language in the form’s attestation clause required him to declare his answers were true and advised him that his declarations were being “made under threat of penalty of perjury[.]” Background Appellant applied for a concealed handgun permit. The application asked if he had […]

Jan 18, 2022

Parental property? Court adopts balancing test to award viable pre-embryo

A trial court’s award of a preserved pre-embryo to a wife with no compensation to the husband for his share of the marital property has been reversed by the Court of Appeals. Chief Judge Marla Graff Decker remanded the case to the Albemarle Circuit Court with instructions to apply a balancing approach to determine how […]

Jan 11, 2022

Balancing test adopted to award viable pre-embryo

Where, as part of the equitable distribution, the trial court awarded a preserved pre-embryo to wife and did not compensate husband for his share of the marital property, the court’s judgment is reversed. The case is remanded so the trial court can apply a balancing approach to determine how to award the pre-embryo. Court intervention […]

Jan 11, 2022

Corporal punishment of child was excessive

There was sufficient evidence that appellant’s corporal punishment of his child “exceeded the bounds of due moderation” and that he had “at least criminally negligent intent.” As a result, his child cruelty conviction is affirmed. Legal standard “The proscription in Code § 40.1-103(A) against ‘beat[ing]’ one’s child … must be viewed in light of the […]

Dec 20, 2021

Sufficient evidence that plant material was marijuana

Where appellant, who was convicted of possessing marijuana, argued there was insufficient evidence that the plant material was marijuana, the commonwealth did not have the burden to show that the material contained no more than .3 percent THC, which would establish that the material was legal industrial hemp or a hemp product. The laboratory certificate […]

Nov 22, 2021

Assault of sleeping victim established constructive force

Where appellant placed his hands inside the sleeping victim’s pants, this was a lack of consent that established the constructive force necessary to sustain appellant’s conviction for aggravated sexual battery. Overview J.A. was 14 years old when she and her mother reported to the police that appellant his hands inside J.A.’s pants while she was […]

Nov 16, 2021

Tipster’s information supplied reasonable suspicion to search

Where police received reliable information from a confidential informant that appellant was selling drugs, and described appellant’s clothing and his location in an area known for drug activity, this provided a reasonable suspicion to detain appellant. Drugs found on appellant’s person during a search after a police dog alerted to “the odor of narcotics” are […]

Nov 1, 2021

Court properly awarded lump sum spousal support

The circuit court made adequate findings when awarding the wife a lump sum spousal support award payable over five years in monthly installments. The husband cannot argue on appeal that the circuit court did not make findings of fact relating to his reduced income upon his retirement. The husband never raised this issue in the […]

Oct 28, 2021

Insufficient evidence of trial date notice

Appellant’s conviction of felony failure to appear  is reversed because there is insufficient evidence that he “willfully failed to appear after receiving proper notice of his court date.” Prior proceedings The trial court convicted appellant of failing to appear for a court date. The Court of Appeals affirmed on procedural grounds. Appellant appealed. The Virginia […]

Oct 14, 2021

Prosecution concedes failure to prove suspended license case

Appellant’s conviction for driving on a suspended license, fifth offense, is reversed. The prosecution has conceded that appellant lacked sufficient notice that her license was suspended when she committed the offense. Prior proceedings In July 2016, a police officer made a traffic stop and determined appellant was driving on a suspended license. At trial, the […]

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