The Virginia Senate and Courts Justice Committee voted 12-3 to “pass by indefinitely” (or kill) Senate Bill #1381. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli requested the bill. Cuccinelli’s office is the lead counsel in the three civil suits filed against Virginia Tech and some of its employees and the bill was another attempt to derail the civil suit filed by the Pryde and Petersen families in connection with the April 16, 2007 tragedy.
Cuccincelli’s actions appear to be one of the most blatant abuses of power in recent Virginia history. His three previous attempts to claim sovereign immunity have been rejected by the courts. So what does he do? He tries to change the law to fit his own purposes. If that isn’t an abuse of power, I don’t know what is.
Had Bill #1381 passed, it would have been a major departure from the state’s established appellate procedure, could have suspended pending Supreme Court review, and added another year or more to the process--and added considerably to the plaintiffs’ litigation costs.
Lori Hass, whose daughter was wounded in the shooting, is quoted as saying the bill’s timing and the circumstances behind its proposal lends credence to the feeling among many of the Tech victims’ families that officials fear a trial might reveal how poorly the tragedy was handled.
The Attorney General was also silent when members of his party tried to delay the reappointment of Judge Alexander, the man who said there was enough evidence of gross negligence for the Pryde/Petersen lawsuit to proceed.
The actions cited above are from an Attorney General whose sentences consist of three parts—a subject, a verb, and the word Christian. Since when is it a Christian virtue to abuse power and deny a day in court to families whose children have been slaughtered at the state’s largest university?