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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals upholding Appellant's conviction for failure to register as a sexually violent sex offender, holding that Appellant was properly classified as a sexually violent offender and convicted for failing to register within the relevant statutory ninety-day period. In 2004, Appellant was convicted in Idaho of sexual abuse of a child under the age of sixteen and ordered to register as a sex offender with the State of Idaho. In 2016, Appellant moved to Virginia and registered as a sex offender. Appellant was later convicted for failing to reregister as a sexually violent offender. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under Va. Code 9.1-902(F)(ii), Appellant was required to register as a sexually violent offender in Virginia. View "Turner v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court accepted certification of a question of law in a proceeding pending before the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut and answered that Virginia law recognizes that the collateral source rule can apply to breach of contract cases. Specifically at issue was whether Virginia law applies the collateral source rule to a breach of contract action where the plaintiff has been reimbursed by an insurer for the full amount it seeks in damages from the defendant. The Supreme Court answered that the same rationales supporting the recognition of the collateral source rule in tort cases also supports the rule's application in certain breach of contract actions. The Court further explained that whether the rule applies to a given case requires a case by case analysis as to whether the parties' expectations, in light of those rationales, support the rule's application. View "Dominion Resources, Inc. v. Alstom Power, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that the petition was untimely under Va. Code 8.01-654(A)(2). In 1970, Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Petitioner was subsequently resentenced to life imprisonment. In 2016, Petitioner filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting that new evidence exculpated him. While acknowledging that his petition was untimely, Petitioner argued that the limitation period violated the Suspension Clause of Va. Const. Art. I, 9. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Petitioner's petition was time barred; and (2) Petitioner's inability to question and present new evidence bearing on his factual guilt or innocence did not violate the Suspension Clause. View "Brown v. Warden" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of voluntary manslaughter, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it permitted the admission of Defendant's statement, "It's my second one," which was made to a witness immediately following the shooting of the victim. The court of appeals held that any error in admitting evidence of the statement was harmless because Defendant had a fair trial on the merits and that substantial justice was reached. The Supreme Court held that because Defendant failed to assign error to the appellate court's holding that any error was harmless, the court of appeals judgment is affirmed. View "Rankin v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction after the trial court had denied Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the exclusionary rule did not apply under the facts of this case. Defendant was convicted of stolen property. At issue on appeal was whether the trial court should have excluded evidence obtained by police officers during a warrantless search of a motorcycle parked on a private residential driveway. The case made its way to the United States Supreme Court, which held that the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment does not permit a police officer to enter the curtilage of a home without a warrant in order to search a vehicle parked on that curtilage. The Supreme Court left for resolution on remand whether the warrantless intrusion on Defendant's house may have been reasonable on a different basis. On remand, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied because, at the time of the search, a reasonably well-trained police officer would not have known that the automobile exception did not permit him to search a motorcycle located a few feet across the curtilage boundary of a private driveway. View "Collins v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal challenging a just compensation award, holding that the notice of appeal was not timely filed. In this condemnation proceeding, Appellant appealed from an order distributing funds held by the circuit court. The Town of Culpeper filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding (1) an order confirming the jury's award of just compensation is a final order for purposes of appeal in a condemnation proceeding; and (2) Appellant's notice of appeal was untimely under Rule 5:9(a). View "Dwyer v. Town of Culpeper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing on demurrer Plaintiff’s complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983 claiming that prison officials had violated his due process rights during a prison disciplinary proceeding that resulted in a $10 fine, holding that there was no violation of Plaintiff’s due process rights. Plaintiff, an inmate in a Virginia prison, filed this action against several prison officials alleging deprivations of his due process rights. The circuit court granted Defendants’ demurrer, finding that the disciplinary proceeding had not deprived Plaintiff of any due process rights and that all of the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in holding that Plaintiff’s allegations did not state a viable due process claim. View "Anderson v. Warden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition for a writ of actual innocence based on biological evidence pursuant to Va. Code 19.2-327.2 et seq. and vacated Petitioner’s conviction, holding that the totality of the evidence led to the conclusion that the writ of actual innocence must be issued. Petitioner was convicted of rape, carnal knowledge, and burglary. Years later, after Petitioner received Department of Forensic Science test results eliminating him as a contributor of a semen stain found on the jeans worn by the victim, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of actual innocence in the Supreme Court. The Court granted the petition, holding that the totality of the evidence showed that Petitioner proved, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the allegations required under section 19.2-327.3(A) and that no rational trier of fact would have found Petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt where Petitioner had been scientifically proven by DNA analysis not to be the source of the sperm found on the victim’s jeans or the male DNA found on the vaginal swab obtained from the victim. View "In re Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the facts did not establish personal jurisdiction under the basis presented to the court, the “persistent course of conduct” clause of Virginia’s long arm statute, Va. Code 8.01-328.1(A)(4). Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Loudoun County against Defendant, alleging that Defendant had illegal used asserts from accounts belonging to others to fund certain litigation. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction by special appearance. The circuit court indicated that section 8.01-328.1(A)(4) constituted the only viable ground for personal jurisdiction over Defendant and that the facts did not support a finding that Defendant engaged in a “persistent course of conduct” in Virginia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that Defendant did not engage in a persistent course of conduct in the forum jurisdiction and was not therefore subject to the circuit court’s in personam jurisdiction. View "Mercer v. MacKinnon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the motion for arbitration because the parties’ disagreements were controversies arising out of or relating to their contract, and therefore, pursuant to the contract, an arbitrator must resolve them. Plaintiffs sued Defendant, alleging that the home Defendant constructed for Plaintiffs suffered from defects that caused damage to the home. Defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration under the arbitration clause of the parties’ contract. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the arbitration clause was unenforceable. The supreme Court reversed, holding that the parties’ disagreement over the interpretation of the arbitration clause, as well as the application of the doctrine of impossibility to the arbitration clause, were “controvers[ies] arising out of or relating to the contract,” and therefore, the circuit court erred in refusing to compel arbitration. View "Brush Arbor Home Construction, LLC v. Alexander" on Justia Law