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