Under the new policy, which took effect March 1, people caught with a small amount marijuana would not be appointed a lawyer if they have no criminal record and it’s their first pot possession offense.
According to a memo that court officials sent to the Arlington County Bar Association last month, some people caught with pot for the first time can enter a guilty plea and have the charge dismissed as long as they agree to meet “certain conditions” set by the court.
Offenders who qualify would have two weeks from arraignment to consult with an attorney if they choose, but wouldn’t be appointed one.
Though the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says “in all criminal prosecutions the accused… shall have assistance of counsel for his defense,” the Supreme Court ruled in a 1979 decision that the right to counsel only applies when a defendant faces imprisonment.
In this case, because the court is waiving jail time for those offenders, it does not legally need to appoint them counsel. Many other courts throughout the U.S. have also similarly waived imprisonment for first-time marijuana offenders.
Arlington’s Office of the Public Defender is protesting the policy on the grounds that it could unfairly affect people who can’t afford lawyers if they want them.
The office made its case in a rebuttal letter shared with ARLnow.com.
“While no doubt unintended, Arlington’s new policy will send us down a slippery slope towards the same scenario for poor people: no lawyers for indigent persons charged with personal-use marijuana possession cases where the court or prosecutor exclude jail time as a sentencing option,” the letter reads.
Matthew Foley, the office’s chief public defender, added that the new policy would “disproportionately affect minorities and immigrants” and possibly deprive them of their due process.
Foley argued that the policy could mislead people into thinking the charges would be expunged from their record, which they may not be. For citizens, he said, the consequences of a criminal record might include loss of educational opportunities, jobs, public benefits, student loans, and the ability to legally drive a car. For non-citizens, the consequences of such a record could mean deportation, the inability to become a citizen or re-enter the country.
“Liberty is not just about jail time,” he told ARLnow.com. “It’s about permanent criminal records, which affect you your entire life.”
Foley continued in the letter:
Assuming a typical indigent defendant can even get a free consultation with a private lawyer, how does that person parlay the attorney’s advice into getting due process? If the consulted lawyer advises that the police stop or search were unlawful, what will the indigent defendant without an appointed attorney be able to do with this advice? What if the person charged is innocent? How does the mere advice of the attorney lead to a just result? If the attorney tells the accused person that the case is weak, but he may be deported if he is found guilty, how does that help? The answer is clear: it will help no more than a doctor advising an uninsured, cash-strapped patient how to remove his tonsils, set a broken leg or cure his cancer.
But Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos disputed Foley’s argument and called his rhetoric “overheated.”
The man who held a local attorney and his wife captive in their McLean home for hours, torturing them and slashing their throats, has been found guilty on all charges.
Springfield resident Andrew Schmuhl, 33, now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The sentencing will begin Thursday.
Schmuhl’s wife, Alecia, will face trial in September for her role in the attack, which allegedly stemmed from her firing from the Courthouse-based law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman. Victim Leo Fisher was the partner in the firm who fired Schmuhl.
The firm released the following press release about the verdict Tuesday evening.
We are grateful that the jury’s guilty verdicts in the prosecution of Andrew Schmuhl for his brutal assault of our friend and colleague, Leo Fisher, and his wife Sue Duncan, mark the beginning of closure for them. This was a horrific ordeal no one can fully grasp. We appreciate the enormous effort made by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and his office to present a compelling case that has produced a just result, and the hard work of the law enforcement professionals who brought the facts to light. We trust that the jury will now recommend a sentence commensurate with the defendant’s atrocities.
The firm remains deeply indebted to its friends, clients, colleagues and fellow professionals for their constant well-wishes and support throughout this process.
With the conclusion of the sentencing proceedings, Leo may add his comments to those of the firm, but we ask that his and Sue’s continued privacy be respected. Otherwise, as the prosecution of Alecia Schmuhl is continuing, no further comment will be provided from anyone with the firm, apart from our desire that an appropriate outcome in her case will also be achieved.
About Bean, Kinney & Korman, P.C.
For more than 50 years, Bean, Kinney & Korman has been a leading Northern Virginia law firm that has continuously grown and diversified to meet the increasingly complex legal needs of its expanding community of clients. Bean, Kinney & Korman provides business/corporate and individual services among a wide range of practice areas. For more information, visit http://www.beankinney.com.
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) George Mason University’s Arlington-based law school has been renamed after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
GMU agreed to rename the law school, based in the Virginia Square neighborhood, after receiving two donations for a total of $30 million, the largest combined gift in university history. Of the $30 million, $20 million came from an anonymous donor, via the Federalist Society, and $10 million was donated by the Charles Koch Foundation.
GMU’s Board of Visitors voted in favor of the new name this afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported. Scalia, a McLean resident, passed away in his sleep on Feb. 13 while visiting a Texas ranch.
After the jump, the press release from George Mason University announcing the new name.
Sweetgreen, Taylor Gourmet Coming to Crystal City — Venture capital-funded salad purveyor Sweetgreen plans to open a 1,700 square foot store in the former Corner Bakery space in Crystal City later this year. And that’s not the only trendy eatery coming to the neighborhood. Sandwich shop Taylor Gourmet is expected to open in a storefront next door. [Bisnow]
Sunglasses Store Closes on Pentagon Row — There’s still more than a month until Labor Day but sunglasses store Specs New York, which opened up three months ago on Pentagon Row, appears to be closing. [Twitter]
New Law Allows Cocktail Pitchers — A new Virginia law that took effect July 1 finally allows restaurants to serve pitchers of cocktails. Previously, it was against the law to serve any mixed drink other than sangria via pitcher. Pepita, which opened last week in Ballston, is taking advantage of the new law by selling margaritas in a skull-shaped pitcher for $40. [Washington Business Journal]
TV Station Profiles Arlington Fugitive — Rosslyn-based WJLA featured an Arlington fugitive as part of an “ABC 7 On Your Side” segment. Police say Jessie Kim, 25, assaulted the new owner of what had formerly been his family’s dry cleaning business. Kim is also accused of destroying the owner’s phone and other property before driving off in a silver BMW. [WJLA]
Bus Accident in Ballston — A minor collision between an ART bus and a Metrobus happened around 5:00 p.m. yesterday in front of the Ballston Metro station. No injuries were reported.
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Courthouse-based law firm of Bean Kinney & Korman is confirming earlier reports that its managing shareholder, Leo Fisher, and his wife were stabbed in their McLean home on Sunday.
In a statement, the firm also confirms that one of the suspects, Alecia Schmuhl, 30, was an attorney at the firm. Her employment ended on Oct. 28, less than two weeks before the attack, Bean Kinney said.
Schmuhl and her husband, Andrew (both pictured), have been charged with two counts of abduction and two counts of malicious wounding.
The Washington Post, citing prosecutors and police, reports that Andrew Schmuhl entered the house after pretending to be a police officer, tied Fisher and his wife up and then repeatedly stabbed them. The couple were arrested after a car chase, and Andrew was wearing nothing but a diaper when he was taken into custody, the Post reported.
Both victims are still in the hospital. Their wounds were described as life-threatening.
The statement from Bean Kinney is below.
As reported through multiple media sources, Leo Fisher, Bean Kinney & Korman’s managing shareholder, and his wife were savagely assaulted and repeatedly stabbed in their home by intruders, identified as Andrew Schmuhl and Alecia Schmuhl, husband and wife. Alecia Schmuhl was an associate attorney with the firm from February 13, 2013, through October 28, 2014. As the matter is a subject of an active police investigation, the firm is unable to comment further on the circumstances of her employment and separation from the firm.
We are shocked and horrified by the facts of the matter as presented at this morning’s bond hearing for Ms. Schmuhl, and entirely support the decision to deny her bond. Our hearts go out to a wonderful colleague and his beloved wife. We are doing everything possible to support them through this ordeal and pray for their recovery. We are confident in the ability of the judicial process to achieve a just outcome and will fully cooperate with the Fairfax County investigative authorities to assure that those who have committed these unspeakable offenses against good people are fittingly punished for their actions.
Photos via Fairfax County Police Department
The Courthouse-based law firm of Bean Kinney & Korman has been rocked by a violent crime in McLean.
A married couple, Andrew and Alecia Schmuhl, are accused of stabbing a man and a woman in their McLean home, after knocking on their front door on Sunday. The victims, both 61 years old, suffered serious injuries, according to Fairfax County Police.
The law blog Above the Law reports that the victims were Bean Kinney managing partner Leo Fisher and his wife. Alecia Schmuhl (pictured) was a Bean Kinney attorney who was fired on Friday, a source told the site. Her profile on the firm’s website has since been taken down.
A representative of the firm has thus far not responded to a request for comment from ARLnow.com.
Update at 11/14/14 — The Washington Post has additional details about the crime, which was described as a “torture session” by a prosecutor.
It’s a part of Virginia law that mostly pertains to rural areas, crafted to protect farmers and their livestock. But it could also potentially apply to Arlington, should the county allow residents to raise egg-laying hens.
Virginia law section § 3.2-6552 allows for citizens to kill any dog caught in the act of killing or injuring poultry. After the fact, Virginia courts have the power to order animal control officers to kill any dog found to be a “confirmed poultry killer.”
The little-known law may be a deal-breaker for dog-loving Arlington residents, should the county follow a task force recommendation and require potential hen owners to first win the approval of adjacent property holders.
“That could really cause some problems between neighbors,” said Jim Pebley, of the group Backyards, Not Barnyards, which opposes urban chickens in Arlington. “This just adds another reason why relaxing restrictions on raising poultry in residential areas is not a very good idea.”
Asked about the law, supporters of backyard hens didn’t seem concerned, however.
“Thankfully, dogs, people and hens co-exist happily in Baltimore, Richmond, Raleigh, and hundreds of other urban communities across the country that embrace henkeeping,” said Ed Fendley, of the Arlington Egg Project. “We are confident that in Arlington, too, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Other states have similar laws on the books. Two weeks ago in the San Francisco area, two dogs were killed by the owner of chickens the dogs had just killed. The killing of the dogs would be legal under California law, unless the dogs “suffered unduly” and animal cruelty charges can be brought.
The Virginia law is as follows:
It shall be the duty of any animal control officer or other officer who may find a dog in the act of killing or injuring livestock or poultry to kill such dog forthwith whether such dog bears a tag or not. Any person finding a dog committing any of the depredations mentioned in this section shall have the right to kill such dog on sight as shall any owner of livestock or his agent finding a dog chasing livestock on land utilized by the livestock when the circumstances show that such chasing is harmful to the livestock. Any court shall have the power to order the animal control officer or other officer to kill any dog known to be a confirmed livestock or poultry killer, and any dog killing poultry for the third time shall be considered a confirmed poultry killer. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the dog to produce the dog.
Any animal control officer who has reason to believe that any dog is killing livestock or poultry shall be empowered to seize such dog solely for the purpose of examining such dog in order to determine whether it committed any of the depredations mentioned herein. Any animal control officer or other person who has reason to believe that any dog is killing livestock, or committing any of the depredations mentioned in this section, shall apply to a magistrate serving the locality wherein the dog may be, who shall issue a warrant requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a time and place named therein, at which time evidence shall be heard. If it shall appear that the dog is a livestock killer, or has committed any of the depredations mentioned in this section, the district court shall order that the dog be: (i) killed immediately by the animal control officer or other officer designated by the court; or (ii) removed to another state that does not border on the Commonwealth and prohibited from returning to the Commonwealth. Any dog ordered removed from the Commonwealth that is later found in the Commonwealth shall be ordered by a court to be killed immediately.
New Laws, Sales Tax Hike Takes Effect in Va. — Today, July 1, a number of new laws take effect in Virginia. Among them: a new law cracking down on texting and driving, the decriminalization of unmarried cohabitation, and an increase in the sales tax in Northern Virginia from 5 to 6 percent. [WTOP]
NSF Buildings to Be Sold, Redeveloped — Changes may be on the way for the two office buildings in Ballston being vacated by the National Science Foundation in 2017. One of the building is being offered for sale, while the other is being considered for a conversion to apartments or a hotel, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Challenge to Va. Gay Marriage Law Considered — The law barring same-sex marriage in Virginia may face legal challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, according to several local elected officials. [Sun Gazette]
Wayne Street Apartments to be Renovated — The Wayne Street Apartments on 2nd Street S. in Penrose have been acquired by developer Penzance. The company plans to renovate the aging complex, raise rents and incorporate the complex into the Myerton community apartment across the street. [Globe St.]
Flickr pool photo by Eschweik
In April, the Arlington County Board quietly approved a site plan amendment for the vacant National Gateway building at 3500 and 3550 S. Clark Street, along Jefferson Davis Highway near Potomac Yard. The amendment was granted to allow the office building to be used for educational purposes.
Specifically, the building was to be occupied by a new 1,300-student law school, complete with 22 classrooms, a law library, a bookstore, a moot courtroom and a cafe.
Since April, however, no construction permits have been issued for the building. InfiLaw System, a Florida-based consortium of independent law schools that was planning to open the new school, now says that plans have fallen through, at least for now.
“The InfiLaw System was exploring opening a law school in Arlington, Virginia,” confirmed Kathy Heldman, the organization’s vice president of marketing, via email last night. “We have decided to put the initiative on hold.”
No word yet on whether InfiLaw might revive the law school plans at some point in the near future. The decision is another blow to Arlington’s commercial real estate market, which is reeling from the National Science Foundation’s decision to move to Alexandria and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s expected decision to move to the Skyline area of Fairfax County.
Photo via nationalgatewayarlington.com
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Police have begun their annual crackdown on passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts. The Click It or Ticket enforcement period began yesterday (May 20) and runs through Sunday, June 2.
The Arlington County Police Department says motorists should always wear seat belts, and those who refuse to will be targeted. ACPD is joining other local and state law enforcement officers, as well as those across the country, who are focusing on seat belt laws during this time period.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Safety Office, preliminary statistics show that last year 305 of Virginia’s 774 fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics from 2011 indicate 272 Virginians lived through accidents due to wearing a seat belt.
Per state law, everyone in a vehicle must be wearing a seat belt. Drivers are encouraged to tell all people riding with them to buckle up. If there are passengers under the age of 18 violating the law, the driver can receive tickets for each unrestrained minor. Passengers over the age of 18 can receive their own tickets if unrestrained while riding in a car.
ACPD recorded 630 seat belt violations during traffic stops from May 2012 through April 2013.
Lane Markings Repainted Near Pentagon — The lane markings on Route 110 near the Pentagon were repainted this week after NBC4 alerted VDOT to “awkward lane markings” left there by construction work. Before the repainting, “motorists drove along seemingly in one lane, only to have that lane disappear right under them,” NBC4’s Adam Tuss said. [NBC Washington]
Va. Anti-Sodomy Law Overturned — A U.S. appeals court panel has ruled that Virginia’s anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional. The case involved a man accused of soliciting sodomy with a 17-year-old girl. One of the judges said that “Virginia can and should punish adults who have sexual relations with minors, but the state cannot use an unconstitutional law to do so.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Arlington Plans to Sell $264 Million in Bonds — Arlington County is planning to sell up to $264 million in municipal bonds next month. The sale would include $94 million in new bonds and $170 million in refinanced existing bonds. The debt service on the new bonds will add about $8.7 million per year to the county’s budget. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Calls for Action on Climate Change — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) took to the House floor on Tuesday to call for Congress to take action to “prevent further damage from climate change by developing a long-term strategy to address the issue.” [YouTube]
Photo courtesy Scott Shelbo
But Clarendon resident H. Paul Moon is not your average government lawyer. He’s a composer, playwright and blogger who only recently added filmmaking to his list of side-projects. Earlier this month, he became an “award-winning” filmmaker at Arlington’s Rosebud Film and Video Festival.
Moon won the festival’s “Best of Show” award for El Toro, a short experimental film that seeks to make a visual connection between Spanish bullfighting and the passion of the Christ.
Armed with “modest” video equipment during a trip to Madrid, Moon attended a bullfight in the Plaza de Toros, a violent experience he says he does not want to repeat. Several months after returning home, Moon found inspiration and decided to turn his travel video into a film.
“I juxtaposed those bloody bullfighting scenes with carefully composed shots inside Madrid’s central cathedral, and heavily processed my edit with light manipulation and other visual effects to create a sort of dream-like meditation set to music,” he said. Then, one year after his trip, the Rosebud judges bestowed “an unexpected an encouraging honor” — the festival’s top prize.
“This was the first festival screening that I ever received since starting to make films 1-1/2 years ago,” Moon said.
It will almost certainly not be his last. Moon has continued cranking out experimental/environmental/landscape films inspired by his extensive international travels. In addition to the abstract and non-narrative, he has also been working on documentaries that profile performing artists.
Currently, Moon says he’s hard at work on a “biographical portrait of the American composer Samuel Barber.” The choice of documentary subject reflects the fact that Moon — a prolific creator of art — is also a voracious consumer of art.
“When something fascinates me, now I can’t stop myself from making a project out of it,” he said.
El Toro currently is not available online, but you can watch some of Moon’s other films here.
Photos from El Toro courtesy of H. Paul Moon
Last week we told you about a seemingly innocuous event held by the Arlington Young Democrats: a happy hour to give free beer to anyone who showed up at a bar with a sticker indicating they voted absentee.
But apparently nobody told local burrito chain California Tortilla. The company, which has a store in Courthouse, is offering a free taco to anyone who shows up with an “I Voted” sticker.
How long until the feds politely shut it down? Or, at least, force California Tortilla to give away tacos to everyone?
Update at 9:20 a.m. — As a commenter points out, the giveaway may be legal, after all. If you simply scream “I love election day” you qualify for a free taco, according to the California Tortilla website. Any federal election lawyers want to weigh in?
Politico is reporting that an Arlington Young Democrats-sponsored “absentee voting happy hour” last week may have broken federal election laws.
The event, at Velocity Five in Courthouse, promised free beer for anyone who showed up with a sticker proving that they voted absentee.
“In elections in which federal candidates are on the ballot, no one can offer any kind of benefit or reward for voting,” an election law professor told Politico.
AYD President Gordon Simonett said “zero people” showed up to take advantage of the group’s offer.