Sunday, November 18, 2012

When the Law Is Broken, Fix It

"Although Montgomery's conviction was thrown out, he was not freed because Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli blocked the decision, saying the Hampton judge did not have proper jurisdiction to make the decision that falls under the Virginia Court of Appeals."

There are times when following the law to the letter makes sense. There are other times when our elected officials should find and exploit the loopholes required to do the right thing. Since Cuccinelli has clearly demonstrated he's a screw up on this simple case, I think that when Virginia's next Attorney General election comes up, we find a replacement that is not going to idiotically leave an innocent man in jail.

Despite whatever other service he's done for Virginia, this is a screw up that is big enough that I will go on record: If Cuccinelli seeks and gets the Virginia governor nomination for 2013, I will not vote for him. There are plenty of good politicians in Virginia who have not decided that we should jail innocent people for stupid reasons.

If our AG continues to be stubborn over this, then this is one of the rare cases that I think an executive can rightly issue an absolute pardon. There are often people in our justice system who claim that they are wrongly imprisoned; we very rarely get such a clear cut case presented to us. Gov. McDonnell: Screw the appeals process, issue an absolute pardon and get this guy home for what will probably be the best Thanksgiving of his life.

I am generally a law and order type of person. But, part of having law and order is that, for people to be willing to submit to it, it has to be a just law and order. This action on Cuccinelli's part makes it clear that he is unable to deliver that. In addition, every state -- especially Virginia -- needs to get a law on the books that declares when a conviction is thrown out, the person is immediately free to be released (provided they are not serving any time for other crimes.) This is probably a small problem, but it is a discrete, easy to solve problem. So, let's solve it.

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