Thursday, November 27, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The Northumberland County, Virginia chapter of the NAACP has invited me to participate in their fall Art Festival on November 22nd. The Festival will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and I will be there the whole time signing the Virginia Tech book. From 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. I will hold a reading and discussion of the book. If you are in Northumberland County, please stop by the Community Center on Brown's Store Road near Wicomoco Church.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Below is the letter I have sent to the Executive Direction of the Virginia ACLU. I am not too optimistic that she will help. She is a friend of Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell who wrote the decision I am questioning. Furthermore, the ACLU may not want to rock the Virginia Supreme Court's boat. It is worth a try.
Kilmarnock, Va. 22482
November 3, 2014
Ms. Claire G. Gastanaga
American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
701 East Franklin St. Suite 1612
I enjoyed meeting you and listening to your presentation on Sunday, the 26th of October at the Unitarian Fellowship in White Stone. Equality for all people is a basic right of our republic and I strongly support what you and the ACLU are doing, and have done, to guarantee citizens’ rights—no matter sexual orientation, race, religion, or ethnic background.
As I mentioned, I am a victims’ rights advocate working with the victims of school shootings here in Virginia and throughout the country. I take no money for this work.
At issue, and what I am asking the ACLU’s help on, is the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech. The unanimous decision written by Justice Cleo E. Powell states on page one, “In this case, we hold that even if there was a special relationship between the Commonwealth and the students of Virginia Tech, under the facts of the case, there was no duty for the Commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts by third parties.”
Justice Powell then proceeds to get one of the most important facts wrong. On page two she writes, “Although officers from the Virginia Tech Police Department were the first on the scene, the Blacksburg Police Department led the investigation.” Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum and his department were in charge.
On the morning of April 16, 2007, the investigation of the double shooting at West Ambler Johnston hall was in the hands of the Virginia Tech police. Blacksburg Police Chief Kimberley S. Crannis testified to that fact on the witness stand, and I have confirmation of that fact in a letter from her (attached).
The investigation of the shootings at West Ambler Johnston Hall were conducted in accordance with a legal agreement between the town of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. That agreement states that the requesting police department, in this case Virginia Tech, will retain control of the investigation. That agreement is attached.
I have nearly 50 years experience in intelligence and crime analysis and currently teach at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, the FBI, the CIA, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If one of my students made an error of this magnitude I would flunk that student.
The error is so egregious that I believe the civil rights of the Pryde and Peterson families has been violated. To base a decision on facts and then get facts wrong raises serious questions about the Court’s objectivity and integrity and merits investigation.
You mentioned that my complaint to the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission might not lie in the realm of ACLU activity. But when I looked at the ACLU Mission Statement, and the Mission Statement’s reference to civil liberties, I believe this complaint is exactly what the ACLU is all about. Here is the Mission Statement:
“ACLU MISSION STATEMENT. Since its founding in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been the guardian of liberty, working in the nation's courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve individual working rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
You also mentioned that you are a friend of Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell, author of the decision. If you feel this friendship would bias you or in any way make it impossible to help me, would you recuse yourself and help me find another ACLU lawyer who is willing to help?
The following are highlights about my work on school shootings in Virginia:
Angela Dales, the mother of my oldest grandchild, was killed at the first school shooting here in Virginia at the Appalachian School of Law on January 16, 2002. Following that tragedy I became a victims’ rights advocate.
I wrote a book on that tragedy, which I have enclosed. I am sad to say the law school, the legal profession, law enforcement officials, and state politicians engaged in a campaign of deceit, cover-up, and out-and-out lies. For example, law school officials told a student to destroy incriminating evidence. The student made copies of the evidence, gave it to our lawyers and was willing to testify under oath that he had been asked to destroy evidence. I detail all this in the book, and enclose the book for your reference.
In the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech rampage, I offered my files and services to the Tech families. From that offer came a working relationship. Around five years ago, a father whose son was killed in the German class at Tech asked me to write a book from the families’ perspective and to expose the lies and cover-up that has taken place. I agreed. That book, Virginia Tech: Make Sure It Doesn’t Get Out is also enclosed. Chapter XI gives a detailed analysis of the trial and the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision.
Again, I am asking for help from the ACLU in filing a complaint in connection with the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision to nullify the jury verdict in the Prdye/Peterson jury verdict against Virginia Tech. I look forward to hearing from you.
I have enclosed a copy of my bio for your information.
P.S. Here are some of my findings. They are detailed in my book:
1. Virginia Tech paid nearly $1 million to two public relations firms to spin the tragedy. Each family got $100,000 for their dead child or loved one.
2. The State of Virginia paid TriData, an Arlington-based firm that does business with the state, $750,000 to write the Governor’s Review Panel Report—a conflict of interest. The report is riddled with errors.
3. Virginia Tech took three days to set up a Web site to support school President Charles Steger and Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum. It took Tech four months to set up a Web site in support of the families.
4. The families had little or no say in the money that came in to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund set up in response to the tragedy. The school said that $8.5 million represented the bulk of the fund. In fact, it was $160 million, which Tech apparently put in a general fund.
5. There is evidence that Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum did not tell the truth on the witness stand in the Pryde/Petereson lawsuit against the school.
6. Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum violated practically all rules of crime scene analysis at the double homicide at West Ambler Johnston Hall on April 16, 2007. His lack of professionalism made the death of 30 people and wounding of 17 others in Norris Hall inevitable.
cc: Hall & Sethi, PLC
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I am in touch with someone from the ACLU as I prepare to file a formal complaint in connection with the Virginia Supreme Court's Action in overturning the jury verdict in Pryde/Peterson suit against Virginia Tech. I will not be filing the complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission until after the first of the year. I still have several volumes of records to go through (I received from the Attorney General's Office), but it is now almost certain that either the ex-Attorney General or Justice Cleo Powell did not tell (or write) the truth (a lie?). It is against the law to present false information to a court of law and it is against the law for a Supreme Court Justice to interject his or her own incorrect facts in a decision.
I have next no hope anything will happen. The old girl/boy network will kick in to protect one of their own. The person at the ACLU with whom I talked is a friend of Justice Powell. It will be interesting to watch her ethics and objectivity in practice. I am going to give it a try and will go forward with or without the support of the ACLU.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
THE VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT’S RESPONSE
Below is the response I received from the Virginia Supreme Court. I think it speaks for itself. I would remind readers of my blog that I now have over five volumes of court documents pertaining to the Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the jury verdict in the Pryde/Peterson trial. It will take me some time to go over the 1000+ pages.
It will be interesting to see who did not tell the truth about who was in charge of the murder scene at West Ambler Johnston Hall in the middle of the Virginia Tech campus—Attorney General Cuccinelli’s office or the Virginia Supreme Court?
SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA
Office of the Executive Secretary
100 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-2334
September 9, 2014
Mr. David Cariens
Kilmarnock, Va. 22482
RE: Freedom of Information Act Request
Dear Mr. Cariens:
Your request for records sent by certified mail to Justice Cleo E. Powell was received on September 2, 2014 and forwarded to me for response. You also sent copies of your request to Chief Justice Kinser, Justices Lemons, Goodwyn, and Millette, and Senior Justices Russell and Lacy. This response will serve as the response for each of the Justices and Senior Justices who received such copies.
Justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act because of the separation of powers contained in the Constitution of Virginia. Without waiving this objection, please be advised that neither Justice Powell nor any of Justices or Senior Justices who received your letter or copies of your letter possess records that are responsive to your request. Justices may consider only the case record when deciding a case and such records filed with the Court as part of a case are maintained by the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The phone number for the Clerk’s Office for the Supreme Court is (804) 786-2251.
Please note that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to “[t]he records required by law to be maintained by the clerks of the courts of record, as defined in 1-212, and courts not of record, as defined in 16.1-69.5.” Va. Code 2.2-3703 (A)(5). However, case records are generally public records and are available at the applicable clerks’ offices, unless a record has been sealed or is otherwise deemed confidential.
Kristi S. Wright
Friday, October 3, 2014
My next book signing for Virginia Tech: Make Sure It Doesn't Get Out will be at The Book People, 536 Granite Avenue, Richmond, Virginia on October 18th from noon until 2:00 p.m. Hope to see some of you there.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
FYI, below is the write up Emerson College put out in connection with my talk/signing next week.
|David S. Cariens Jr., a retired CIA officer, will have a reading and book signing for his book,Virginia Tech: Make Sure It Doesn't Get Out, which dissects the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings that left 32 dead and 17 wounded. He exposes the duplicity of people in positions of trust-politicians, school officials, medical and law enforcement personnel--and concludes that deceit, coverup, and lies are the legacy for families directly affected by the shooting.|
Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Virginia Attorney General's office has provided me with around a 1000 pages of documents related to the Virginia Supreme Court's decision to throw out the jury verdict in the Pryde/Peterson trial. It will take a lot of time to review them. The question is--who is not telling the truth? The state Supreme Court justice (Cleo Powell) who wrote the decision, or the Attorney General's office under Ken Cuccinelli. The error in question is who was in charge of the investigation on the morning of April 16, 2007. Under a legal agreement between Blacksburg and the University, it was the Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum. Justice Powell's decision asserts it was the Blacksburg Police Chief. In the world of crime analysis this is a horrific error.
Monday, September 22, 2014
I will be at the University of Richmond's Osher Institute on October 1st from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. for a talk and book signing--Virginia Tech: Make Sure It Doesn't Get Out. The session is free but the Institute is asking people to call to make a reservation. #VirginiaTechshooting.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
I will be at the Barnes and Noble at Emerson College, 114 Boylston Street, Boston, MA on September 29th from noon to 2 p.m. for a talk about my book, Virginia Tech: Make Sure It Doesn't Get Out. There will be a discussion and signing after the talk.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
The second edition of my book, A Question of Accountability: The Murder of Angela Dales, was published in early August. Unfortunately the corrections made in the electronic proof copy did not make it into the printed copy. The corrections have now been made in the print copies.
If you bought one of the initial copies before the corrections were made, please contact me at email@example.com and I will make arrangements to get you a replacement corrected copy. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Friday, September 12, 2014
The Virginia Attorney General's office has agreed to supply me with all documents given to the Virginia Supreme Court in connection who was in charge of the investigation on the morning of April 6, 2007. The documents were given to the Virginia Supreme Court as evidence in their hearing/review of the state's appeal of the jury verdict in the Pryde-Peterson lawsuit holding Virginia Tech liable.
I expect those documents to show one of two things: first, whether or not the Attorney General's office was truthful, or two, did the Supreme Court not tell the truth about who was in charge. Either one would be very disturbing for the Virginia legal system.
It will be a few weeks before I have the documents.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the jury verdict holding Virginia Tech liable for failing to warn the campus on April 16, 2007 following the double homicide at West Ambler Johnston Hall is so disturbing that I have asked the Court for the document(s) the used to base their decision on. Here is my letter to the Court:
August 26, 2014
The Honorable Cleo E. Powell
Supreme Court of Virginia
P.O. Box 1315
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
I am requesting documents supplied to the Virginia Supreme Court by the office of then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as well as the Hall & Sethi law firm in connection with the Court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech.
It is my understanding that the Supreme Court justices may only examine the documents given to them. I am only interested in the documents stating who was in charge of the investigation following the double homicide at Virginia Tech’s West Ambler Johnston Hall.
On page two, first paragraph, line eight of your decision you write, “…the Blacksburg Police Department led the investigation.”
When I queried Blacksburg Police Chief Kimberley S. Crannis she responded, “On that date [April 16, 2007], the Blacksburg Police Department responded to a request from the Virginia Tech Police Department, pursuant to a Mutual Aid Agreement between the Town and Virginia Tech. That agreement provided that ‘all law enforcement personnel responding to an emergency request as described in this agreement will report to an take direction from the Chief of Police of the requesting agency.’” I have enclosed that agreement as well as Chief Crannis’s response to me.
According to Chief Crannis and the legal agreement between the town and the university, Virginia Tech Chief Wendell Flinchum was in charge of the investigation on the morning of April 16, 2007.
In your decision, you state the court based its decision on facts. Therefore, I request all documents given to the Court stating who was in charge of the investigation of the double homicide at West Ambler Johnston Hall on the morning of April 16, 2007.
Because the decision was unanimous, I am copying all the justices on this letter. I am also making a similar request from the Virginia Attorney General’s office and the Hall & Sethi law firm.
Thank you in advance for helping me with my research,
cc: The Honorable Cynthia D. Kinser
Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
The Honorable Donald W. Lemons
Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
The Honorable S. Bernard Goodwyn
Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
The Honorable LeRoy F. Millette, Jr.
Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
The Honorable Charles S. Russell
Senior Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
The Honorable Elizabeth B. Lacy
Senior Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
Mark R. Herring
Attorney General of Virginia
Robert T. Hall
Hall & Sethi, PLC
Monday, September 8, 2014
The Virginia Supreme Court puts the care and feeding of businesses and interest groups far ahead of individual rights in almost all of its decisions—even those where people have been sexually assaulted or killed. (See the decisions they made involving Rockingham Publications and the Virginia Tech rampage.)
The Court relies on a very narrow interpretation of the doctrine of foreseeability—specifically, does a business or institution have a duty to warn. In laymen’s terms, the Virginia Court consistently rules against individuals saying, in effect, that no one can be responsible for someone else’s actions except in rare, extreme cases.
But not all state supreme courts share the Virginia court’s myopic view.
Here is a definition of foreseeability used by most other states’ Supreme Courts:
“Foreseeability is a flexible concept which varies with the circumstances of each case. Where the degree of result or harm is great, but preventing it not difficult, a relative low degree of foreseeability is required... Thus foreseeability is not to be measured by just what is more probable than not, but also includes whatever result is likely enough in the setting of modern life that a reasonable prudent person would take such into account in guiding reasonable conduct... We only engage in balancing of the harm in those rare situations when we are called upon to extend a duty beyond the scope previously imposed or when a duty has not been previously recognized.”
The New York Supreme Court has ruled that the fact that a defendant could not anticipate the precise manner of an accident or incident, or the exact extent of injuries does not preclude liability as a matter of law where the general risk and character of injuries are foreseeable. The New York court hit the nail on the head. In dealing with an unstable person such as Cho, or any murderer, the exact nature of the violent behavior or when or how it will occur cannot be predicted. But that he or she will be violent is predictable and preventive measures, including warnings and lockdowns, can be taken.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
This is the second in a series of blogs looking at the Virginia Supreme Court.
The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech is just another in a series of examples of the Court’s willingness to ride roughshod over individual’s rights and safety.
In the Virginia Tech case, the court ignored possible perjury on the part of a key witness, got a critical fact wrong, ignored facts that favor the plaintiffs, and appears to have kowtowed to the most powerful economic engine in southwestern Virginia—Virginia Tech.
Let’s take a quick look at the judicial system in Virginia. Sadly, individuals do not fare well against businesses or powerful interest groups.
In Virginia, the judges are elected by the legislature. At present, the Virginia Supreme Court is made up of seven justices elected by a majority of both houses of the General Assembly. To be eligible for election, a candidate must be a resident of Virginia and must have been a member of the Virginia Bar for at least five years. If the General Assembly elects these justices, who elects the General Assembly? Well, large business contributions bankroll most politicians’ campaigns. Newspaper editorials can make or break a candidate’s chances of being elected to the General Assembly. The potential for conflict of interest is readily apparent.
In my research, I came across a ruling that was particularly disturbing. In May 1988, a 13-year-old boy and his parents agreed with the Rockingham Publishing Company that the boy would deliver the company’s newspapers in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Due to the boy’s age, under the Virginia child labor laws, Rockingham could permit the boy and other carriers of the same age only to distribute its “newspapers on regularly established routes between the hours of four o’clock ante meridian (in the morning) and seven o’clock post meridian (in the evening), excluding the time public schools are actually in session.” A year and half after the then 13 year-old boy took over the route; he was sexually assaulted one morning between six and six-thirty while delivering papers.
There had been three previous pre-dawn assaults of a sexual nature upon other young Rockingham carriers while they were delivering their newspapers. While two of the assaults were more than two years before the one in this legal action, one occurred only four months prior to the case in question. Furthermore, all three of the earlier victims gave a similar description of the young man who assaulted them.
In legal terms, the issue was whether Rockingham Publishing had a special relationship with the plaintiff that would have required such a warning, and whether the publishing company had enough prior evidence of sexual assaults that it owed a duty to warn A.H. (the paperboy) and his parents. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that “Rockingham owed the same degree of care to A.H. that “it would have owed if A.H. had been employed by Rockingham.” “And, given the fact that Rockingham assigned a fixed route and time for A.H. to distribute its newspapers, we conclude that the necessary special relationship existed between Rockingham and A.H. with regard to the conduct of third persons.”
Having said that, the Supreme Court then raised a technicality that puts so many Virginians in a losing position when coming up against private businesses. “Even though the necessary special relationship is established with regard to a defendant’s potential duty to protect or warn a plaintiff against the criminal conduct of a third party, that duty, as in other cases of negligence cases, is not without limitations.” “A court must still determine whether the danger of a plaintiff’s injury from such conduct was known to the defendant or was reasonably foreseeable.”
Once you state that there are limitations, all you have to do to protect private businesses is set the bar so high that it allows you to reject evidence showing the attack was “reasonably foreseeable.” Armed with this technicality, the court was then in position to rule as follows: “Despite the special relationship, and even though the plaintiff’s age may have imposed a greater degree of care upon Rockingham than it would have owed an adult in the plaintiff’s circumstances, Rockingham had no duty to warn or protect him against harm unless the danger of an assault on the plaintiff was known or reasonably foreseeable to Rockingham. Since Rockingham did not know that the plaintiff was in danger of being assaulted on that particular paper route, we consider whether the evidence is sufficient to raise to a jury’s attention the question of whether an assault on him was reasonably foreseeable.”
The court, then, decided against the plaintiff’s claim that his age and relationship to Rockingham created an additional duty of disclosure, “because the plaintiff has not met his threshold obligation of introducing evidence sufficient to (have a jury trial)...on the question of whether the assault was reasonably foreseeable.”
To the plaintiff’s charge that Rockingham gave “inadequate” and “deceptive” warnings regarding the risks of assault upon its young carriers while on their early morning deliveries, the defense argued that this charge did not meet the threshold to warrant a more complete warning. The court said that even if the publishing firm’s safety literature, video, and safety whistles were inadequate, that “did not rise to a duty to give a more complete warning.”
There is something wrong with the court’s logic. If Rockingham did not feel it had a responsibility, then why did it spend time, money, and effort to have safety training for its paperboys in the first place?
Then the court said that even if Rockingham’s safety materials were deceptive (a matter they did not decide) the court “did not think that a duty was created in this case because neither the plaintiff nor his parent had seen or read any of the safety literature.”
Two Virginia Supreme Court Justices—Justice Kinser and Justice Lacey—concurred in part with the majority ruling and dissented in part with the majority. The majority ruled, that because the three previous attacks on paperboys had occurred in different locations, these attacks could not be presented as evidence. The dissenting judges eloquently argued the opposite: The random location of the assaults makes an attack on any given paper route, more rather than less likely. “In other words, if the prior assaults had occurred in only one area of the city or a particular route, then Rockingham would be justified in arguing that it could not have foreseen that A.H.’s route would have been the site of an assault.” The dissenting judges also pointed out that the “fact that the assaults occurred in the same type of location, a paper route...(rendered) an attack on A.H.’s route foreseeable.”
Other points raised in the dissenting opinion were modus operandi of the prior assaults. This is a significant factor in whether or not the attack was foreseeable. “...all prior attacks occurred in the pre-dawn hours while the three victims were delivering Rockingham’s papers.... The victims also gave strikingly similar descriptions of their assailant. All the descriptions included the same attributes as the age, gender, race, and physique. In sum, the time and method of the attacks, the sexual nature of the assaults, and the similarity in the victims’ descriptions of the assailant are fact sufficient to raise a jury question.”
“Finally,” the dissenting opinion said, “even though the first two assaults occurred four-and-a-half years before the assault on A.H., Rockingham knew that the assailant in the first attacks was never apprehended. Thus, when the third assault occurred four months before the assault on A.H., and the victim provided a description of the assailant remarkably similar to those given by the first two victims, it was then reasonably foreseeable that the danger to Rockingham’s carriers still existed.”
“For these reasons, I,” dissenting Judge Kinser wrote, “would reverse the trial court’s judgment sustaining the motions to strike the evidence and remand the case for a new trial.”
Editorial endorsements of papers such as those published by the Rockingham Publishing Company are keys to the election of the Virginia General Assembly, and the Assembly members elect the Supreme Court Judges. There is no evidence of impropriety in the case of A.H. vs. Rockingham Publishing Company, and I am not trying to accuse anyone of anything. But the Supreme Court of Virginia would have served the state’s citizens by bending over backward to ensure that a jury heard the case.
* * *
As a manager in the government I was trained on my responsibilities—professional and legal. If one of my subordinates was sexually harassed, I could be held responsible even if I did not know about it—because I should have known about it. If the law takes this firm a stand on an off-color joke or remark that can be interpreted as “harassment,” why is Virginia law so lax on workplace violence or murder?
In other words, in the Old Dominion if there is a record of a sexual assault or threatening behavior (as was the case with Rockingham Publishing and Virginia Tech respectively), you have “no need to know, no need to act.” You have the right to look the other way. And, even in cases of sexual assault against a minor or mass murder, you are not accountable for not warning. But not when it comes to off color jokes or sexual harassment, you must act.
There is something I am missing in this logic—or maybe I am just naïve.