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.

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