Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reinstate Steger

Attorneys for the two Virginia Tech victims’ families who sued the school for failing to warn that a killer was on the loose on April 16, 2007, have appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court to reinstate school President Steger as a defendant.

There are, however, serious questions whether the families have a chance. The Virginia court system is politicized, and judges seem to care more about ideology than about truth.

Unlike other states’ Supreme Courts, Virginia’s highest court usually rules based on the far right ideological premise that organizations, businesses, and government agencies have absolutely no obligation to warn despite overwhelming evidence of imminent violence. The need-to-warn concept is “foreseeablility.” Other states’ courts recognize it; Virginia’s supreme court usually doesn’t.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers correctly argue that Steger has not been truthful in recounting April 16, 2007.  Following the shooting, Steger hired a crisis-management firm. That team prepared Steger for a Meet the Press interview that aired on September 23, 2007 in which he said a suspect was taken into custody after the dormitory double homicide—two hours before the Norris Hall massacre. Steger’s words were a lie. If Steger will lie on national television, can we believe anything he says?

Evidence in court documents, in the Governor’s Review Panel Report, and Steger’s own words show that he has repeatedly been less than candid and frequently untruthful.

Virginia judges are appointed by the state legislature. Brutally powerful right-wing politicians tried to derail the families’ lawsuit. These same politicians will work behind-the-scenes to ensure Steger is not held accountable.

When I wrote the book on Virginia’s first school shooting at the Appalachian School of Law, our Kilmarnock lawyer asked me, “How many corrupt judges have you uncovered?” I hope none of those, or like-minded, judges are on the Virginia Supreme Court.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cuccinelli—One White Lie After Another

There seems no end to the depths the Virginia Attorney General will sink in order to deny justice to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.

 The Attorney General’s office has appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court to overturn the jury decision that Tech failed to live up to its obligation to warn the campus that a killer was on the loose.  In fact, the Attorney General’s office may have broken the law in writing the appeal. You cannot represent to a court something that you know is false—and that is what the Attorney General’s office appears to have done. Furthermore, if you present something to a court leading to an incorrect inference because you have not presented all the facts, it is tantamount to a lie. And Cuccinelli’s office appears to have done that as well.

In describing the morning of April 16, 2007, Cuccinelli’s denies a duty to warn because “multiple police forces on the scene did not believe the campus was in danger.” That is simply not true. The erroneous decision that the dormitory double homicide was a “domestic incident” was the decision of one man alone—Chief Wendell Flinchum. Furthermore, the dead male was gay; there was no reason for the dead female’s boyfriend to be jealous.

Without presenting evidence (because there is none), Cuccinelli’s office says school President Steger “understood … that the perpetrator likely left the campus” and did not warn. The Attorney General appears to believe that a killer is any less dangerous after committing murder than before?

Finally, the Supreme Court is not told of the thirteen bloody footprints leading away from the crime scene and a bloody thumbprint on a doorknob leading to a stairwell and a building exit. That alone is evidence to warn immediately.