Monday, January 26, 2015


On November 3rd I sent a letter to Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, Executive Director of the ACLU in Richmond, Virginia, asking if her organization would help me with my complaint against Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell.

I met Ms. Gastanaga in White Stone, Virginia where I asked to look at my argument. Her body language clearly indicated she did not welcome my request, but because I asked in the presence of others, she agreed to look at it. She also said she is a personal friend of Justice Powell. I naively hoped that if she could not help, but saw merits in my case, she would refer the complaint to someone else in the ACLU.

It is now nearly three months since I wrote Ms. Gastanaga. She has not responded and apparently does not intend to acknowledge my letter. Clearly, the old boy/old girl network is at work. In this case it is especially disappointing because of the high standards the ACLU ascribes to.

“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.”

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Following the filing of my complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, I wrote the Virginia Attorney General's office asking his office to look into possible improprieties. Here is that letter:

                                                                                    Kilmarnock, Virginia 22482
                                                                                    January 19, 2015

Mark Herring, Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Commonwealth of Virginia
900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia  23219

Attorney General Herring:

I have filed a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission against Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell. The complaint centers on a major factual error in her October 31, 2013 decision to throw out the jury verdict holding Virginia Tech liable in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against the school. (My complaint and the evidence are attached).

Justice Powell wrote that the Blacksburg Police were in charge of the investigation of the killings on April 16, 2007, but in fact it was the Virginia Tech Police Department. I have been involved in and teach intelligence and crime analysis for nearly 50 years. (My bio is attached.) This is a stunning factual error, and as I said in the complaint, if one of my students made this mistake I would flunk him or her.

Both Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis and Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum testified under oath that it was the Virginia Tech Police who were in charge. (The testimony is included in the complaint.)

The question arises how could such an error of this magnitude make it into the Supreme Court’s decision when the evidence before the court states the opposite? Indeed, there are at least five references in the testimony that the Virginia Tech Police Department was in charge.

It is against the law to introduce false evidence or facts in a court of law. It must certainly be against the law to feed false facts to a Supreme Court justice; facts that are contained in a ruling involving the worst school shooting in this nation’s history. The error is so great that it casts doubt on the court’s integrity, objectivity, and truthfulness.

I am not accusing Justice Powell and the court of being untruthful, but I am arguing that for this ruling to stand uncorrected is tantamount to condoning factual errors at the highest level of the state’s judiciary.

Because of the factual error in the Pryde and Peterson decision, there is a very real possibility that the two families’ civil rights were violated. There is also the possibility of some form of public corruption in the form of undue influence on the court.

I am asking that the Attorney General’s office investigate whether or not there is a civil rights violation and how a factual error on that scale could make it into a major Virginia Supreme Court decision.

                                                                                    Yours sincerely,

                                                                                    David Cariens



Early last week I filed a complaint against the Virginia Supreme Court because of a major factual error in the Court's decision to dismiss the jury verdict in the Pryde/Peterson case holding Virginia Tech accountable in the April 16, 2007 rampage.  Here is that complaint:


MAIL TO:    Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission
                                    Post Office Box 367
                                    Richmond, Virginia   23218-0367
Note: The Commission does not accept far or email complaints

Name of Judge      Justice Cleo E. Powell

Location of Court  Supreme Court of Virginia, 100 N. Ninth
                                       Street     Richmond, Virginia

Date of Incident  Opinion by Justice Cleo E. Powell  October 13, 2013

Case Name or Number:   

Factual error—decision in appeal of wrongful death suits

Name and telephone numbers of persons who witnessed the judge’s conduct: Supreme Court Justices Kinser, Lemons, Goodwyn, Millette, Russell, and Lacy (804) 786-6455. Robert T. Hall of Hall & Sethi, Reston, Virginia (704) 925-9500. William Broaddus, McGUIREWOODS (804) 775-1000.

Description of what the judge said or did that you believe was improper:  On October 31, 2013, Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell issued an error-ridden opinion reversing the jury verdict in the case of the Commonwealth of Virginia v. Grafton William Peterson, Administrator of the Estate of Erin Nicole Peterson, Deceased, et. Al. (From the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, William N. Alexander, II, Judge Designate.) On page 2 of Justice Powell’s decision she writes: “Although officers from the Virginia Tech Police Department were the first on the scene, (continued)

Name                                                                                    Daytime
(Please Print) David S. Cariens                            Telephone:  given

Address  given

___________________________________________               Date   January 17, 2015

Note: The Commission does not accept unsigned complaints

“the Blacksburg Police Department led the investigation.”

The exact opposite is true. The Virginia Tech Police Department led the investigation. Both Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum and Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis testified, under oath to that fact in direct questions from William G. Broaddus. (See attachments A and B, photocopies of Chief Flinchum’s and Chief Crannis’s answers to Broaddus’s questions.)  In another question from Broaddus, Chief Crannis testified that she offered assistance to Chief Flinchum. (See attachment C). On another occasion, and in a response to Broaddus’s question, Flinchum testified “we called the Blacksburg police for assistance.” (See attachment D.) In a video clip of Virginia Tech President Charles Steger’s press conference on the evening of April 16, 2007, which was shown to the court, President Steger states, “The Blacksburg Police Department were also on the scene assisting the Virginia Tech police …”  (See attachment E.)

I am also enclosing the agreement between the town of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech, stating that “2. All law enforcement personnel responding to an emergency request as described in this agreement will report to and take direction from the Chief of Police of the requesting agency or his/her designee.” (See attachment F.)

Also, I am enclosing a letter from Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis to me confirming that on the morning of April 16, 2007, the investigation was conducted in accordance with the legal agreement between the town and school. (See attachment G.)

I believe that Justice Cleo E. Powell violated two Canons of the Canons of Judicial Conduct for the State of Virginia. They are Canons 1 and 2.



An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be
preserved. The provisions of these Canons are to be construed and applied to further that objective.


Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law, including the provisions of these Canons. Public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is maintained by the adherence of each judge to this responsibility. Conversely, violation of this Canon diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and thereby does injury to the system of government under law.

I am not accusing Justice Powell of lying, but by writing a decision containing a factual error of this magnitude (involving the worst school shooting in this nation’s history), she has done irreparable harm to “an independent and honorable judiciary [which] is indispensable to justice in our society.”  She has violated Canon 1. If Justice Powell were a student in one of my classes, I would flunk her. (See attachment F, my biography.)




A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.


It is against the law to introduce false or wrong facts into court proceedings. By wittingly or unwittingly allowing a factual error into her decision, Justice Powell has, at minimum, been complicit in the violation of the laws of the State of Virginia. This is tantamount to the impropriety of the first order and does not promote “public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” Furthermore, Justice Powell’s decision casts serious doubts on the integrity, thoroughness, and objectivity of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The decision should be withdrawn and the verdict of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Virginia should be reinstated.

If you have any questions about the above complaint, please contact me.

                                                                        Yours sincerely,

                                                                        David Cariens