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Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:11 PM

In Va., a travesty of justice

A wrongly imprisoned man in Virginia

By Editorial Board, Nov 13, 2012 09:48 PM EST

IN VIRGINIA, a young man has languished in prison for four years for a crime he did not commit. Now that his lone accuser has admitted that she invented the charges against him, the state and the courts seem paralyzed, unable to quickly arrange for the release of the wrongfully imprisoned man. This is a travesty.

The man is Jonathan Montgomery, age 26. In 2007, a then-teenage girl named Elizabeth Paige Coast accused Mr. Montgomery of having molested her six years earlier, when she was 10 and he was 14. It wasn’t true.

Despite the flagrant miscarriage of justice in Mr. Montgomery’s case — a stain on Virginia’s criminal justice system — no one in a position of authority has moved to set him free. The trial judge who convicted Mr. Montgomery vacated the verdict and the sentence and ordered him released. But the release was blocked over the weekend by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s office, which said the state’s Court of Appeals must first declare him innocent. That could take weeks, even months.
....

If Mr. Cuccinelli is unwilling or unable to act, then Mr. McDonnell must do so, and immediately. If that means taking time out from the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association, beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, so be it.


ETA: In a part of the editorial that I left out, the Post credits the Newport News Daily Press with breaking the story.

Accuser recants, but innocent jailed man waits
http://www.dailypress.com/news/breaking/dp-nws-victim-recants-1110-20121109,0,4625376.story

Judge in Hampton Circuit Court orders verdicts vacated, but state Attorney General's office blocks release, saying judge had no authority to rule

By Peter Dujardin, pdujardin@dailypress.com |
247-4749

7:38 a.m. EST, November 10, 2012

HAMPTON — With a stroke of a pen Friday morning, a Circuit Court judge in Hampton wiped away Johnathon Montgomery's conviction on three felony sexual assault charges — and vacated more than two years left on his prison sentence.

That came after the supposed "victim" in the case told police investigators last month that she had lied at Montgomery's 2008 trial about getting sexually assaulted outside her grandmother's home eight years earlier.

But when Montgomery's family drove out to Jarratt, Va., to pick him up at Greensville Correctional Center late Friday, the Department of Corrections told them he wasn't being released.
....

According to Montgomery's lawyer, Deputy Hampton Public Defender Ben Pavek, the Attorney General's Office contends that the Circuit Court judge on the case, Randolph T. West, didn't have the authority to order Montgomery's release.


ETA, part two: This is my 3,333rd post at DU.

10 replies, 1575 views

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply In Va., a travesty of justice (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2012 OP
LiberalEsto Nov 2012 #1
rocktivity Nov 2012 #2
blue_heron Nov 2012 #3
StrayKat Nov 2012 #5
blue_heron Nov 2012 #6
blue_heron Nov 2012 #7
atreides1 Nov 2012 #4
d_r Nov 2012 #8
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2012 #9
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2012 #10

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:14 PM

1. This was the lead editorial in today's Washington Post nt

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:25 PM

2. Why does an appeals court have to declare him innocent

when the case was never appealed?

Sounds like DOJ issue to me -- get back to work, Eric.


rocktivity

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:34 PM

3. dumba$$ move Cuccinelli!!!

You want to be governor? I hope this gets brought up over and over and over and over again when the campaign starts.

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Response to blue_heron (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:44 PM

5. A Cuccinelli Governorship. . .

is the stuff of nightmares.

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Response to StrayKat (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 05:02 PM

6. yes, horrific!

wake up Virginia! Everyone who just voted for Obama needs to show up at the polls in 2014!!!!

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Response to blue_heron (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 05:04 PM

7. I meant 2013!!!!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:40 PM

4. Don't count on McDonnell

Him and Cuccinelli are attached at the hip by their particular brand of Catholicism...the brand that insists that women are to be told when and what health choices they possess and what rights they are allowed to exercise!

And they don't give two shits about an innocent man being incarcerated.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 05:27 PM

8. question

what happens if you commit a crime as a juvenile but it isn't reported until years later when you are an adult? are you tried as adult?

(I know the accuser here recanted I wondered as a general question)

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Response to d_r (Reply #8)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 08:38 AM

9. I can think of one instance right away.

Michael Skakel

Michael Skakel Will Be Tried as Adult

Michael Skakel Will Be Tried as Adult:
Judge orders transfer of murder case to
Norwalk/Stamford, Conn., Superior Court.
By Kellie A. Wagner - The Conn. Law Tribune

When criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman was told about Judge Maureen Dennis' decision regarding the fate of his client Michael Skakel, Sherman picked up the call using his cellular phone -- while snowboarding in Aspen, Colorado, where he was attending a criminal defense convention.

On Jan. 31 Dennis ruled that Skakel would be tried as an adult in the 1975 murder of his Greenwich, Conn., neighbor, Martha Moxley. Dennis ordered the case transferred to the Norwalk/Stamford Superior Court, ending months of speculation about whether the now 40-year-old defendant would be tried as a juvenile as 1975 law suggests, or face a jury trial as an adult.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:06 AM

10. Montgomery released from prison after Gov. McDonnell issues pardon

Montgomery released from prison after Gov. McDonnell issues pardon
http://www.dailypress.com/news/breaking/dp-pardon-issued-for-montgomery-effective-immediately-20121120,0,1544804.story

Daily Press
9:42 p.m. EST, November 20, 2012

JARRATT — Johnathon Montgomery said the first hint of freedom came late Tuesday afternoon.

A prison guard brought a set of civilian clothes to his cell at the Greensville Correctional Center, and said it “was time to pack up my stuff.”
....

Then, at 5:15 p.m., Gov. Bob McDonnell called Montgomery and told him he was granting him a conditional pardon. The governor apologized for the injustice that has kept him locked up for the past four years.
....

“It is a travesty of justice when an innocent person is confined in a jail or prison, and it should never occur in our society,” McDonnell said in a statement Tuesday. “Tonight I called Johnathan to personally offer, on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth, our heartfelt apologies for all that he has been put through due to this miscarriage of justice.”

McDonnell then called Montgomery’s mother and father. His father, an appliance repairman in North Carolina, missed the call because of a company policy that prohibits him from picking up his cell phone while driving.

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