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Judge Mary Grace O'Brien

Aug 20, 2023

Devise of farmland adeemed by extinction

Where the testator’s will provided that appellant, one of the testator’s sons, would inherit farmland that she had inherited from her husband, the devise to appellant was adeemed by extinction when the testator conveyed the disputed acreage to another son who died intestate, leaving the testator as his sole heir, who inherited his interest in […]

Aug 15, 2023

Remand ordered in insurance benefits case

Where a state trooper grieved his termination and a hearing officer reinstated him to his position, a remand is necessary to determine whether the Department of State Police complied with certain aspects of the grievance award. Substitute premiums “DSP argues the court erred by ordering it to reimburse Brendel for substitute health insurance premiums he […]

Jul 24, 2023

Sufficient evidence for conspiracy conviction

There was sufficient evidence to support appellant’s convictions of conspiracy to distribute Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances. ‘Consciousness of guilt’ “[A] rational trier of fact could have found that appellant and his companions drove from Maryland with a large quantity of fentanyl capsules intending to sell them to Taylor and Investigator Coffman. “The […]

Jun 11, 2023

Suppression motion incorrectly granted

Where the trial court granted appellee’s motion to suppress evidence found during a vehicle search, the court should have considered the objective reasons for the stop instead of the “actual basis” for the stop. Overview Several drug task force officers were watching a house for illegal drug activity. “During their surveillance, they saw Tolley drive […]

Jun 1, 2023

Motion for separate trial correctly denied

Where appellant argues that joinder of his trial with that of a co-defendant’s was prejudicial, “his claims of prejudice are unpersuasive. …” “This lack of actual prejudice is especially clear when considering the evidence introduced solely against appellant: namely, his multiple confessions and statements to his cousin about his plans to rob [the victim].” Background [&hel[...]

May 11, 2023

Motion for separate trial correctly denied

Appellant’s motion for a separate trial was properly denied. Admission of the co-defendant’s out-of-court confessions, which incriminated appellant, did not violate his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights because the statements were not testimonial. Background Appellant Hargrove and Coleman planned to rob Anderson, who had won money in a lottery. They broke into Anderson’s house. Anderson a[...]

Apr 13, 2023

Evidence supports felony animal cruelty conviction

There was sufficient evidence that appellant failed to provide her dog adequate care, “which [made] it not improbable that injury [would] be occasioned’ and knew ‘the probable results of [her] acts,’ thereby willfully inflicting inhumane injury and pain on [the dog] and causing serious bodily injury.” Discussion “Code § 3.2-6570(F) provides, in relevant part, that […]

Mar 20, 2023

Foreclosure after loan default approved

Even though the circuit court misconstrued a notice of default provision in a deed of trust as being optional rather than mandatory, there was no reversible error because the lender, in fact, provided the borrower with a notice of default. Background Anchor Loans loaned Entrepreneur $104,500 to buy residential property. Alex Battle, Entrepreneur’s president, signed […]

Feb 26, 2023

Employer’s neuropsychologist properly admitted as expert

A neuropsychologist hired by claimant’s employer was correctly admitted as an expert witness under the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s own rules and procedures. “[T]he Commission ‘is not bound by statutory or common law rules of pleading or evidence nor by technical rules of practice.’” Background Jenkins drove a tractor-trailer for C&T Trucking. On May 20, 2019, […]

Classic Ford Mustang
Feb 6, 2023

‘Plainly wrong’: Court finds no conversion of classic car, tosses jury verdict

A jury’s conclusion that a car repair and painting business was liable for conversion after it sold a classic car that its owner refused to pick up for months has been reversed on appeal in a matter of first impression. The owner of the 1970 Ford Mustang claimed the business wrongfully used the process outlined […]

Feb 6, 2023

No expungement of inaccurate felony charge

A Supreme Court of Virginia majority has refused to expunge a felony charge of driving while intoxicated even though the government conceded that the man didn’t have the requisite prior felony and should only have been charged with a misdemeanor. Rather than dismiss and recharge the man, the government amended his arrest warrant before trial […]

Feb 1, 2023

No conversion of abandoned vehicle

Where appellant, a part owner of a car repair and painting business, sold appellee’s vehicle after obtaining a declaration from the DMV that it had been abandoned, the trial court should have granted appellant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the jury’s verdict on appellee’s conversion claim. Background McCants, the appellee, had his car moved to Maaco […]

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