Justice Rolls Like a Mighty River (Monday’s version)

Yesterday in the Courts Committee we took up a number of House bills which covered areas we had not previously addressed.  Here are some of the votes:

HB 15 (Marshall):  Would have prohibited Virginia from holding anyone accused of terrorism in its prisons.  Where else are we going to hold them?  In our schools?  Thankfully we killed this bill.

HB 166 (Pogge):  Expanded the death penalty eligible crimes to include the killing of a fire marshal in the performance of his duties.  While I usually  vote against death penalty expansions, I did vote for this bill since fire marshals have “felony arrest” powers but are not otherwise covered by the statute.  The bill passed.

HB 502 (Gilbert):  This bill revisited the “triggerman” rule but with a slightly different spin, i.e. it eliminated the rule only for the killing of law enforcement.  However, all the same issues apply, e.g. how do you prove that an accomplice had the intent to commit murder when he’s sitting in a get-away car?  And he didn’t actually kill anyone?  Treating all defendants the same may give the prosecution leverage but it’s not justice.  We defeated this bill.

HB 513 (Rust):  Permits the impoundment of the vehicle when an unlicensed driver continues to drive in violaton of the law.  For reasons I can’t quite fathom, this bill has been hotly contested.  I voted “yes” and it did pass this time.

HB 728  (Albo):  Limits the conditions of pre-release for those convicted of a felony.  This bill became a huge “turf battle” as pre-release personnel lobbied against limitations on their taxpayer-subsidized services.   Commercial bail bondsmen, on the other hand, supported the bill.  I co-sponsored Albo’s bill thereby earning mention in an hysterical Roanoke Times editorial  (fyi, editors, my donor history is at www.vpap.org).  In its pared-down version, the bill was a wash in terms of saving taxpayers.  Regardless, it was “carried over” on an 8-7 vote.

HB  1197 (Iaquinto):  Would require a mandatory ignition interlock device be installed on the vehicle of anyone convicted of driving under the influence. Right now, it’s mandatory on second offense only.  Otherwise, it’s judicial discretion.  This “all drivers” concept is complete overkill IMO and reflects what happens when single-issue advocates are allowed to dictate our criminal laws.  (e.g. “abuser fees”)  The bill was defeated.

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