Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Criminal liability of teachers as affected by school board policies

In Lambert v. Com., the Virginia Court of Appeals in an opinion by Chief Judge Huff joined by Judge Humphreys and Senior Judge Bumgardner held that the Scott County Circuit Court erred in its holding that the statutory exception for physical contact incidental to the work of teachers in Va. Code 18.2-57(G) did not apply where School Board policy prohibited physical contact.

The Code section provides:

G. "Simple assault" or "assault and battery" shall not be construed to include the use of, by any school security officer or full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school while acting in the course and scope of his official capacity, any of the following: (i) incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control; (ii) reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance that threatens physical injury to persons or damage to property; (iii) reasonable and necessary force to prevent a student from inflicting physical harm on himself; (iv) reasonable and necessary force for self-defense or the defense of others; or (v) reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects or controlled substances or associated paraphernalia that are upon the person of the student or within his control.

The best evidence rule in Virginia

In Jennings v. Com., the Virginia Court of Appeals in a written opinion by Judge AtLee, joined by Chief Judge Huff and Judge Decker, reversed the convictions of a man accused of shoplifting, where the only testimony regarding the value of the property was a witness who testified about what she remembered seeing on the price tags of the property, and not the tags themselves.