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Sep 17 - VA judge jails alleged domestic violence victim for smoking pot on day of court



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 1 month ago '08        #1
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Sep 17 - VA judge jails alleged domestic violence victim for smoking pot on day of court
 

 
A judge in Loudoun County interrupted the testimony of the alleged victim in a felony domestic violence trial last week to question her drug use, sentencing her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court after she said she had smoked marijuana earlier in the day.

She was then “physically removed from the witness stand by multiple deputies,” according to a brief filed by the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, which supports the woman’s motion to vacate the contempt charge lodged by Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher.

The woman, who prosecutors say did not appear intoxicated, served two days in jail before she was released on $1,000 bond, according to court records. Meanwhile, the case against her alleged abuser, who was facing his third domestic violence charge, ended with Fisher declaring a mistrial.

“In the middle of a difficult (cross examination), she was detained, interrogated, arrested and removed from the courtroom,” wrote a*sistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elena Ventura, who argued the woman was “not treated with the respect, sensitivity or dignity required by law.”

Marijuana is now legal in Virginia and prosecutors wrote in their brief that their witness was just anxious and nervous during the approximately hour and a half of testimony she provided. They said Fisher’s inquiry followed “intense and a*sertive (defense) questioning focused on drug-addiction and infidelity.”

Prosecutors also wrote that Fisher refused to hear from detectives who had interacted with her before the trial, who they said would have testified her “behaviors were consistent with all prior interactions and that she exhibited no signs of intoxication prior to her testimony.”

But the biggest issue, the commonwealth’s attorneys office said, was that Fisher’s actions “may create a chilling effect surrounding victim willingness to testify in cases of domestic violence, an area of law already replete with victims recanting and/or refusing to cooperate, due to the extensive trauma domestic violence victims experience through the cycle of power and control, especially in cases where victims have mental health concerns, as … in the case at bar.”

Fisher, the former commonwealth’s attorney of Fauquier County and onetime chair of the county’s Republican committee, was appointed by the General a*sembly to an eight-year term in 2019. Efforts to reach his office were unsuccessful and judges in Virginia rarely comment on proceedings.

It is not the first time Fisher has jailed someone in his courtroom for contempt — a step that legal observers say is unusual in Virginia.

Fisher had divorce lawyer Rachel Virk jailed overnight in January 2020 after finding her in contempt of court during a hearing in which she pressed him to clarify a ruling. The Virginia Court of Appeals dismissed her appeal of the charge on a technicality, finding that because the order jailing her was signed by the clerk of court rather than the judge, there was no jurisdiction to contest it. Virk has since filed a lawsuit against the clerk of court and sheriff, which is still pending.

Under Virginia’s summary contempt statute, a judge can immediately fine someone up to $250 and jail them for a maximum of 10 days for misbehavior, violence, threats of violence or “vile, contemptuous, or insulting language” in court.

In last week’s domestic abuse trial, the witness’ lawyers say her actions did not meet that standard. The Mercury is not identifying her because she is an alleged domestic violence victim and has not given permission to use her name.

“She did not admit to doing any illegal activity nor did she admit to being under the influence in the courtroom,” said Thomas K. Plofchan, Jr., an attorney with Westlake Legal Group, which is representing the woman with Ryan Campbell at King Campbell Poretz Mitchell. “There was no slurring of her words, nothing that indicated that she had taken some sort of intoxicant that affected her speech or muscular movement.”

Plofchan also questioned the timeline, noting it was an afternoon trial and there was no inquiry as to when in the morning she had used marijuana and how much she had taken.

Both parties also took issue with the way Fisher questioned the witness, noting she was never advised of her constitutional and Miranda rights and that the “independent investigation” he conducted by asking her about her drug use is barred by judicial canon.

A hearing on the motion to vacate the contempt charge is scheduled for next week.

The case has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers from the region, who called Fisher’s decision to jail a domestic abuse victim troubling.

“Just in general when dealing with domestic violence victims, there’s a history of not treating the victim with respect and dignity and we’re supposed to be protecting them first,” said Sen. Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat who represents parts of Loudoun.

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, an attorney, questioned whether the witness would have been treated the same way if she had said she had a beer that morning instead.

“When we passed the marijuana legalization statute, one of the things we tried to do was ensure marijuana would be treated the same as alcohol,” he said. “I think it’s important going forward that everybody remember that marijuana possession and consumption is now legal.”

The case has also garnered attention from marijuana reform advocates, who called the case emblematic of the stigmatization cannabis users continue to face.

“In 2020, Virginia ended the practice of jailing individuals for using cannabis, and in 2021 made such use explicitly legal for those age 21 and older,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, the state chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. “Yet, these changes in code do not facilitate an immediate end to the stigmatization faced by those who choose to consume cannabis, many of whom will continue to be singled out for discrimination by those still wedded to longstanding stereotypes.”


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17 comments
 

 1 month ago '11        #2
awww  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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You already know what time it is. I came rushing in this thread I’m out of breath bruh hahah whew. Now it’s time everybody I’m jumping for joy another weed smoker is behind bars. Damn it feels good every time I see articles like this he’s doing the lords work. I’m so fu*king happy bruh
-14   

Top 10 most slapped recently  1 month ago '21        #3
MacJokerJones 
Props total: 1176 1 K  Slaps total: 955 955
VA went full legal July 1st. fu*k this racist cuck stuck in the reefer madness days backwoods judge.
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 1 month ago '21        #4
Aztec King 
Props total: 3896 3 K  Slaps total: 1074 1 K
Might have looked high or probably smelled like weed , and the judge considered it disrespecting the court.
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 1 month ago '08        #5
cohs  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x5 OP
Props total: 46332 46 K  Slaps total: 2641 2 K
 Aztec King said
Might have looked high or probably smelled like weed , and the judge considered it disrespecting the court.
The woman, who prosecutors say did not appear intoxicated, served two days in jail before she was released on $1,000 bond,
Maybe

 1 month ago '09        #6
messy marv stan  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x72
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 awww said
You already know what time it is. I came rushing in this thread I’m out of breath bruh hahah whew. Now it’s time everybody I’m jumping for joy another weed smoker is behind bars. Damn it feels good every time I see articles like this he’s doing the lords work. I’m so fu*king happy bruh





oh really @
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 1 month ago '21        #7
nocomment  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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VA

 1 month ago '14        #8
Sense Maker  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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 awww said
You already know what time it is. I came rushing in this thread I’m out of breath bruh hahah whew. Now it’s time everybody I’m jumping for joy another weed smoker is behind bars. Damn it feels good every time I see articles like this he’s doing the lords work. I’m so fu*king happy bruh
So corny...
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 1 month ago '21        #9
Aztec King 
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 messy marv stan said




oh really @
Is that GDP

 1 month ago '18        #10
Capodecina  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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The commonwealth is not a joke.

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 1 month ago '09        #11
messy marv stan  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x72
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 Aztec King said
Is that GDP

purple punch



@ slapped your post because his anti weed gimmick is stale
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 1 month ago '21        #12
Aztec King 
Props total: 3896 3 K  Slaps total: 1074 1 K
 messy marv stan said
purple punch



@ slapped your post because his anti weed gimmick is stale

I smoked some of that before I think i have pics of some buds. and had a cart of it too. sh*t was fire.
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 1 month ago '04        #13
strat 
Props total: 3899 3 K  Slaps total: 737 737
Its extreme but I get it. She pretty much wasted the time of the whole court. She was testifying high in a case where she was probably the main evidence. Her testimony pretty much needs to be thrown out. Wasted the whole courts time, juries time, and cost a lot of money for nothing.
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 1 month ago '20        #14
Colonel 
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Devil's
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 1 month ago '17        #15
KingBud 
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Damn shame...he should be removed from the bench.. i doubt this is the first time he went too far..
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 1 month ago '20        #16
BradTheGreat23 
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I’m not surprise. As usual, another old white man siding on the wrong side of the topic. What’s new?
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 1 month ago '15        #17
ThatGuy247 
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 awww said
You already know what time it is. I came rushing in this thread I’m out of breath bruh hahah whew. Now it’s time everybody I’m jumping for joy another weed smoker is behind bars. Damn it feels good every time I see articles like this he’s doing the lords work. I’m so fu*king happy bruh
Are you serious? Or trolling?

Damn Bx has gone downhill man…….
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 1 month ago '09        #18
messy marv stan  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x72
Props total: 239814 239 K  Slaps total: 26817 26 K
 ThatGuy247 said
Are you serious? Or trolling?

Damn Bx has gone downhill man…….

@ has dedicated his entire boxden career to trolling about allegedly being anti weed



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