In Virginia, the court system protects businesses and government institutions no matter how much incompetence and ignorance led to the death or wounding of people. At every level, the legal system in Virginia appears to have been bought out by special interest groups—the individual has few chances to get his or her fair hearing in an impartial court.
If you value the life and safety of your child, spouse, or any relative, you may want to think twice about sending anyone to a college or university in Virginia.
About a year after Angie’s murder at the Appalachian School of Law, as I continued to investigate the circumstances surrounding the law school murders, I realized I knew nothing about the court system in my home state. How does the judicial system work in Virginia? How have the courts reacted to acts of violence in schools or in the workplace? I simply did not know. Now I do.
The Question of Guns
The power of the gun permeates all aspects of our society and we wonder why Peter Odighizuwa took a weapon to the Appalachian School of Law campus and turned a gun on people he perceived had insulted him. No, the answer is not the loss of Christian values—the fact is that those values have been high jacked by members of the radical right—including some members of the clergy.
The answer to how do stop violence is to begin by protecting wives and children from husbands who batter. Keep guns out of the hands of violent people. How can a country claim to be the greatest on earth, to be founded on Christian, family values—yet have a domestic violence problem that is reaching epidemic proportions? We can have our guns and laws that protect human life. This not an “either or situation.” Unfortunately, powerful interest groups block any move to prevent the mentally unbalanced, terrorists, and people who are spouse abusers from buying guns.
As with so many problems, there is no simple answer. Somehow, private property, the right to bear arms, and Christianity have become intertwined—an unholy trinity of values.
Holding People Responsible
Off the record, one of the attorneys we talked to cited a case he had in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area where the employee of a store severely beat and raped a customer. The storeowner knew the employee had a history of violence and sexual battery, yet he was hired. The jury ruled in favor of the woman, awarding her a sizeable settlement. The defense attorneys threatened to appeal the case to the Virginia Supreme Court where all parties knew the appeal would win. The court is reluctant to make any private business responsible for the actions of their employees—even if the employer has prior knowledge of the employee's violent tendencies. The result was an out of court settlement.
The same attorney went a step further. He said that in Virginia, every time legislation is proposed that would hold employers—read private organizations such as the Appalachian School of Law—responsible for the actions of their employees, developers and builders bring out their money, power, and influence to ensure that the proposal goes nowhere.
The Virginia Supreme Court, in contrast to the Supreme Courts of other states, consistently rules that a private business, even with prior knowledge of criminal activity including violence, owes no duty to warn or protect anyone on its premises. (In future posts I will go into the unsavory and illegal actions of the Virginia Supreme Court in their handling of the state’s appeal of the jury verdict in the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech—a jaw-dropping miscarriage of justice.) (To be continued)