Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On prosecutorial misconduct and the prosecutor and other lawyers

In Hash v. Johnson, Judge Turk of the W.D. Va. held that Virginia inmate Michael Hash should be released from prison and that the Virginia Supreme Court erred in its 2009 opinion rejecting his post-conviction claims for relief on account of prosecutorial misconduct - based in part on a stack of letters that a prison snitch had written to another judge of the W.D. Va., hoping to get out of his federal time for testifying against Mr. Hash.

The Commonwealth's Attorney for Culpeper was and is Gary Close, who seems to be an interesting fellow, and who graduated from U.Va.-Wise, the University of Tennessee, and the law school at William & Mary. Mr. Close was re-elected without opposition in 2011.

One of the lawyers for Hash in his original trial was named Michael Hemenway. I don't know whether it is the same guy, but there is a lawyer blogger in Charlottesville named Mike Hemenway, also an interesting fellow who gets to court on his motorcycle.

The lawyer who filed the summary judgment motion for Mr. Hash in the case before Judge Turk was Matthew Bosher of Hunton & Williams (not to be confused with the Matt Bosher who kicked a field goal and seven extra points against Virginia in 2009). The challenge of overturning a murder conviction twice affirmed by the Virginia Supreme Court can only be overcome by outstanding legal work.

The Richmond paper had this article about Judge Turk's decision.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On the Second Amendment rights of persons convicted of domestic violence

In United States v. Chester, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Chief Judge Traxler remanded the case of a West Virginia man convicted under the federal statute, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9), which makes it a federal crime to possess a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence, for consideration under the Supreme Court's Second Amendment decision in D.C. v. Heller.

On remand, Judge Copenhaver of the S.D. W.Va. in an opinion dated February 16 applying the intermediate level of scrutiny required by Heller that the Second Amendment did not prohibit Chester's conviction. The opinion addresses a considerable volume of empirical evidence on the question of whether the gun statute bears a reasonable nexus to the important government interest in reducing the use of firearms as a weapon in domestic violence.