Who Guards the Guards?
Quis custiodiet ipsos custodes. Who will guard the guards? An excellent question, because apparently in the State of Virginia, the highest ranking officials certainly don't perform any valid oversight functions or even loosely monitor what is going on within the borders of the state they have been elected by the common people to represent and serve the interests of.
This is a true story and is happening RIGHT NOW...and nothing at all is being done about it, even though it has been brought to the attention of everyone from the local news (paper and television) to the chief of the regional probation office all the way up to the office of the Governor. It is one of the most absurd cases of injustice I've ever heard of, and the most ridiculous part of it is that everyone is turning a blind eye and letting things happen, without any thought given to the fact that what is going on is illegal in every sense of the word.
A 20 year old was convicted in Russell County, Virginia, in January 2009 for attempting to purchase a small quantity of pain pills for personal use. At the conviction and sentencing hearing, Judge Michael A. Moore stated in court that "no one needs that many pills" (less than 50) even though prescriptions are written on an almost hourly basis for quantities greatly in excess of that number, and for much higher milligram doses. Judge Moore also stated that he wasn't interested in hearing the character witness statements that had been brought to court, provided by the defendant's family, friends, and well-placed and well-respected members of his community from attorneys to judges to business owners to preachers. Judge Moore said those statements were nothing more than clever words to try to keep an "obvious drug dealer" out of jail.
Prior to the arrest leading to the January 2009 conviction, the defendant had no criminal record at all and no history of drug/alcohol abuse. Since when does a first-time offense for a personal-use purchase constitute that a person is an "obvious drug dealer"? The only evidence presented in court to support the "drug dealer" theory was the testimony of the arresting officer, and the defendant's first attorney made quick work of the officer during the preliminary hearing, proving that the officer's claims of evidence to support the "dealer" theory were - in fact - false. Yes, the police officer lied under oath in court...and the judge permitted it as evidence. (It has been rampantly rumored that Judge Moore had a family member die from a drug overdose, so it would seem to be a conflict of interest for him to hear any cases involving drugs, wouldn't it? Just as Judge Klein Lauderback in Bristol, Tennessee, shouldn't hear DUI cases since the judge himself is a habitual DUI offender and supposedly has police officers chauffeur him around, at taxpayers' expense, because he can't get a driver's license.)
Because all three public defenders that were assigned to the defendant were incompetent, he was not allowed to utilize the first-time offender statute in Virginia. He was convicted of something he wasn't even charged with and something for which there existed not a single shred of supporting evidence. Since he had no prior record and all statements made by him aggressively supported the "personal use" defense, one can only imagine that the end result of his conviction was due to the judge's personal opinions and biases, which are supposed to be left at the courtroom door when the judge approaches the bench.
The defendant was sentenced to 5 years in jail with 4 years and 4 months suspended, $2,600 in fines/restitution, and 3 years of probation. He served his time, met with his probation officer every time he was supposed to, performed roadside trash pick-up twice a month, passed all drug screens issued to him, has not committed any new offenses, and paid his fines/restitution off in full. Now, a few months from being off probation entirely, his probation officer, Charles Stanley from Abingdon, Virginia, has issued a probation violation report alleging that the defendant did not report a current address. This is wholly false, as I personally heard two messages left for the man by the defendant and the defendant's father, and these messages not only provided a current address but also left several alternate telephone numbers at which the defendant could be reached.
The defendant voluntarily turned himself in to his local police department because the probation officer told him a warrant had been issued for his arrest and that the probation officer could do nothing about it. This is untrue, because the P.O. could have rescinded the violation report. After being arrested, the defendant was told that he could not be bonded out because Russell County has a "blanket denial" policy in effect for bail/bonds involving any cases coming out of their county. Virginia Code does not permit this, and Virginia Code also has very specific guidelines for bond/bail, which were not followed, and the defendant does not meet ANY of the criteria that would result in his remaining incarcerated until a violation hearing. Virginia Code also permits any judge/magistrate to issue bail/bond, so it's unknown why the arresting court would've consulted with Russell County in the first place.
The defendant now has to stay in jail for up to three weeks before getting a hearing regarding the probation violation. After numerous calls and messages to agencies and entities in the state of Virginia, it was finally decided to permit the defendant to have a bond hearing, which was done via videoteleconference and which was apparently just for show. The judge summarily denied bond without taking into consideration ANY of the factors required to be considered by Virginia law. The defendant was also told that he now has to pay $85 per court appearance and if he doesn't have that amount in his commissary, he will not be permitted to appear in court. This is completely ridiculous, and I've never heard of anyone having to pay for the right to appear in court for their own hearings. Stating that Virginia is a "communistwealth" instead of a "commonwealth" isn't far off the mark.
The judge has made the issue personal because of his own feelings toward anyone brought before him on drug charges, and the probation officer has apparently made it personal because he doesn't like young, male probationers. What is the real crime here?
If the defendant were a minority female with ten children by ten different men and living on welfare, the situation would be different. If he were an illegal immigrant sending money back to his home country to bolster its economy instead of America's, he'd be off the hook by now. If he were anyone other than who he is - which is a white, young, employed, taxpaying citizen - he'd be treated A lot better by the justice system and might actually get something that resembles justice. Apparently, Russell County and the State of Virginia have taken umbrage at the fact he paid off his fines and restitution so soon...they must've expected it to take years so they could reap the extra profits incurred by the interest generated on the fines. Now they are just punishing him further for completing the conditions of his sentence without giving them any problems. Perhaps he should've broken the law...absconded...failed to pay any of his fines...gotten addicted to drugs... he would've been treated better by the court system if he had.
I've seen repeat offenders, multiple felons, and flagrant violators of the law get a slap on the wrist before being dismissed from court with little more than a downward turn of the eyebrow in their direction...but someone who has actually tried to ensure that he stays trouble free and law-abiding is being put through the wringer for no reason and with no just cause at all.
Virginia is letting Russell County make its own laws and there doesn't seem to be anyone that even cares, much less anyone that can put a stop to the circus created by Judge Michael Moore and his sycophants.
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