Ramblings of Silver Blue

14 Oct

Get him OFF the bench

It’s time for the General Assemby to get off their respective asses and do something about this “quirk” in our legal system:

A Fairfax County judge doesn’t believe in Virginia’s drunken driving laws has resumed his practice of dismissing all DWI cases brought into his court, leaving prosecutors unable to appeal his rulings.

In July, General District Judge Ian O’Flaherty dismissed two drunken driving cases after a defense attorney successfully argued that the Virginia law was unconstitutional The attorney argued that presuming a person is intoxicated when their blood-alcohol level is point-zero-eight or higher violates an obscure 1985 US Supreme Court ruling.

Since then, prosecutors have done their best to keep DWI cases out of his courtroom by temporarily dropping the charges and obtaining indictments in Circuit Court. But now O’Flaherty is no longer allowing prosecutors to bypass his courtroom.

He even dismissed a case yesterday where the driver’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. Prosecutors say a quirk in Virginia law makes it impossible for them to appeal when a district court judge decides a law is unconstitutional.

While the Judge may be within his rights, the “quirk” that makes it impossible to appeal means it’s time for the law to be changed.

I hope this Judge never loses a loved one to a drunk driver.

To my legal beagles out there: what was that obscure 1985 US SCT ruling?

2 Responses to “Get him OFF the bench”

  1. 1
    Neil Morse Says:

    All you need to know is in the WaPo, including the name of the case and arguments both pro and con.

  2. 2
    Neil Morse Says:

    Which is Francis v. Franklin, by the way. Agh. Mondays.

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