Friday, February 11, 2011

Virginia General District Court Judge Refuses to Follow Va. Supreme Court

In a recent decision, Loudon County General District Judge Worcester strongly disagreed with and declined to follow the Virginia Supreme Court's recent holding in Commonwealth v. Morris and Chan.  The Supreme Court ruling, discussed in previous posts, denied the availability of certain writs, such as the writ of coram nobis (also called coram vobis), to aliens seeking post-conviction relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Prior to the Virginia Supreme Court ruling, Judge Worchester had used the writ of error in four cases in which defendants had not been advised of deportation consequences. 

In his opinion, Judge Worchester stated "[i]f this Court were to abide by the ruling [in Morris and Chan] ... a constitutional violation will stand uncorrected. . . . [t]he Court will not allow this to happen." Finding that the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling was "at odds with long-standing precedent and jurisprudence," the judge apparently decided to ignore it and granted relief using the writ of coram nobis anyway.

Read the opinion here.
Read an article from the Washington Post here.

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