The Roanoke Times reported on March 10, 2010, that the Virginia General Assembly reappointed Franklin County Circuit Judge William Alexander to another eight-year term.
The reappointment had been held up in January on what appears to have been a thinly veiled attempt to remove the judge – who ruled recently that a lawsuit related to the Virginia Tech shootings could proceed against the school – on unrelated and flimsy grounds.
According to representatives Poindexter and Jarvis, two ultra-right members of the General Assembly, the “grounds” were the judge’s handling of a special grand jury probe of Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt, who is charged with keeping improper records on the employment of his daughter. Judge Alexander had agreed to a motion to release the grand jury report on the indictment of the sheriff – a legal and correct ruling, but one that embarrassed Poindexter’s and Jarvis’ fellow Republican, Sheriff Hunt.
Had Judge Alexander not been reappointed, it would have derailed the lawsuit brought by two families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting—the Prydes and the Petersens. Judge Alexander had earlier ruled that there is sufficient evidence of “gross negligence” against school President Charles Steger and others for the lawsuit to proceed.
The extreme right of the Virginia political spectrum is opposed to the trial because of the questions it will raise about gun safety, the accountability of people in positions of authority, and the damage the trial could do to Virginia Tech, the most powerful economic engine in southwest Virginia.