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At issue was what the phrase “has been previously convicted” means in Va. Code 18.2-57.2(B), which makes assault and battery of a family or household member a felony under certain circumstances. Defendant was convicted of misdemeanor and felony assault and battery of a family or household member for October and December offenses, respectively. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Defendant argued that, despite the circuit court’s finding that he was guilty of the October misdemeanor offense, he had not been “convicted” of it within the meaning of section 18.2-57.2(B), and therefore, it could not be used as a predicate offense for his felony conviction. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the court did not need to complete the final phase of adjudication, imposition of sentence or enter a written conviction order memorializing its judgment of conviction for the misdemeanor charge in order to create a predicate conviction within the meaning of the statute; and (2) because the court found Defendant guilty of the misdemeanor charge arising from the October offense, the October offense was properly used as a predicate offense for Defendant’s felony conviction arising from the December offense. View "Lewis v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court erred by dismissing a petition to enforce the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Va. Code 2.2-3700, et seq., on the basis that the petition failed to comply with Va. Code 2.2-3713(A) because it was not properly supported by an affidavit showing good cause. Marian Bragg filed an amended petition against the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors and its individual members (collectively, the Board), alleging that the Board violated the open meeting requirements of FOIA. The circuit court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the petition satisfied the requirements of section 2.2-3713(A) because the allegations in the petition, which incorporated an acknowledgement of a Board member acknowledging that the Board improperly discussed certain public business matters during closed meetings, were supported by an affidavit showing good cause. View "Bragg v. Board of Supervisors of Rappahannock County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s final judgment against a Lessee and its guarantor in this action brought by the Lessor seeking unpaid rent under a fifteen-year lease after the Lessee vacated the leasehold prior to the expiration of the fifteen-year term. After this action was filed, the Lessee demurred, arguing that the lease was unenforceable under the Statute of Conveyances because it did not contain a seal as required by the common law for a deed or one of the substitutes for a seal available under Va. Code 11-3. The trial court overruled the demurrer and entered judgment against the Lessee. The Supreme Court reversed and entered final judgment in favor of the Lessee and its guarantor, holding that the fifteen-year lease was unenforceable as a matter of law because the lease violated the Statute of Conveyances and the common-law seal requirement. View "The Game Place, LLC v. Fredericksburg 35, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the final judgment of the trial court in this eminent domain case granting $167,866 in damages to the landowner, holding that the trial court erred in disallowing the expert witness for the Commissioner of Highways from testifying. The Commissioner initiated this condemnation proceeding to acquire a strip of commercial property to create a multi-use trial. At trial to determine just compensation, the trial court allowed the landowner’s expert witness to testify that the take caused $193,270 in damages to the remainder but disallowed the Commissioner’s expert witness from testifying that the take caused $0 in damages to the remainder. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for retrial, holding that the trial court erred by excluding the Commissioner’s expert witness testimony. View "Commissioner of Highways v. Karverly, Inc." on Justia Law

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The General Assembly did not intent to abrogate existing common law causes of action when it enacted Va. Code 8.01-226.12, which sets forth some obligations and immunities for landlords and managing agents when visible mold occurs. Tenants filed a multi-count complaint alleging that one of the tenants suffered damages after being exposed to mold in their apartment. The trial court dismissed two counts of the complaint that were based on the common law, concluding that the General Assembly intended to abrogate the application of all common law claims for personal injury involving landlord/tenant relationships. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 8.01-226.12 does not implicitly repeal or modify any common law causes of action that are beyond the plain language of the statute. View "Cherry v. Lawson Realty Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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The General Assembly did not intent to abrogate existing common law causes of action when it enacted Va. Code 8.01-226.12, which sets forth some obligations and immunities for landlords and managing agents when visible mold occurs. Tenants filed a multi-count complaint alleging that one of the tenants suffered damages after being exposed to mold in their apartment. The trial court dismissed two counts of the complaint that were based on the common law, concluding that the General Assembly intended to abrogate the application of all common law claims for personal injury involving landlord/tenant relationships. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 8.01-226.12 does not implicitly repeal or modify any common law causes of action that are beyond the plain language of the statute. View "Cherry v. Lawson Realty Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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This Court’s holding in Wyatt v. McDermott, 725 S.E.2d 555 (Va. 2012), which recognized the tort of intentional interference with parental rights, did not extend to the factual allegations against Defendants in this case. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, alleging tortious interference with her parental rights. Defendants demurred to the complaint. The circuit court granted the demurrers as to all but one of the defendants, finding that the allegations did not constitute a viable claim as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the complaint did not allege facts sufficient to state a claim for tortious interference with parental rights against the majority of the defendants. View "Coward v. Wellmont Health System" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Neal submitted a FOIA request to the Fairfax County Police Department seeking its automated license plate readers (ALPR) records regarding his vehicle. The Department responded that Neal’s tag had been read twice and enclosed pictures of his vehicle with the time, date, and GPS location from which at least one photograph was taken. Neal sued under the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act, Code 2.2-3800-3809, alleging that the “passive use” of ALPRs violated a requirement that information not be collected “unless the need for it has been clearly established in advance.” The circuit court granted the Department summary judgment, reasoning “that a license plate number is not personal information.” The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed. The pictures and associated data stored in the ALPR database meet the statutory definition of “personal information” but it is not clear whether the retention and “passive use” of that information may be classified as an “information system” under the Act. The circuit court must determine whether the ALPR record-keeping process provides a means through which a link between a license plate and the vehicle’s owner may be readily made. If a means exists, then the “passive use” of ALPRs is not covered by the law enforcement exception because the Department collected and retained personal information without any suspicion of criminal activity. View "Neal v. Fairfax County Police Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and vacated in part the judgment of the court of appeals with respect to Defendant’s convictions for malicious wounding and use of a firearm during the commission of a malicious wounding and entered judgment reinstating those two convictions. In reversing the two convictions, the court of appeals held that no rational fact-finder could infer that Defendant attacked the victim with a malicious intent to main, disfigure, disable, or kill him during the robbery. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, where the attack actually injured the victim, the evidence supported the reasonable inference that Defendant had the intent to maliciously wound the victim. View "Commonwealth v. Perkins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was how to construe a will’s residuary clause to determine what estate it granted to the testator’s wife (Wife) and whether Appellants were entitled to their attorneys’ fees under the doctrine of judicial instructions. Testator’s son filed a complaint asking the circuit court to construe the residuary clause as granting Wife a life estate in the residual property. The circuit court granted Wife’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the intent of Testator was to devise and bequeath all of the rest and residue of the estate to Wife and that a life estate was not created. Despite this adverse ruling, Testator’s two sons (together, Appellants) moved for the circuit court to tax their attorneys’ fees against the estate on the ground that the meaning of the residuary clause required judicial instruction. The circuit court declined to do so. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the residuary clause unambiguously granted Wife a life estate in the residual property; and (2) the circuit court properly refused to award attorneys’ fees under the doctrine of judicial instructions. View "Feeney v. Feeney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates