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Cuccinelli calls on Kaine to bring legislature back to Richmond

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Republican candidate for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a member of the Virginia Senate himself, is asking Governor Tim Kaine to call a special session to deal with a Supreme Court ruling dealing with drinking and driving.

In a statement released late tonight, Cuccinelli claims that the decision by the Supreme Court justices in the Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts case presents a problem whereby prosecutors are being forced to suspend drunk driver prosecutions.

According to the Cuccinelli release, the Melendez-Diaz ruling prevents local Commonwealth’s Attorneys from using a certificate of analysis of their findings for use in court in drug and D.U.I. cases. In the past it has served as sufficient evidence to prove that a substance was in a defendant’s blood stream. In the wake of this case, Cuccinelli believes it will be necessary for prosecutors to call actual scientists to the stand in each case. Something the state has neither the time or money to pursue.

Senator Cuccinelli said, “A legislative fix would be much better than hiring 100-200 new scientists, which we couldn’t do now even if we tried.”

Cuccinelli said that if Kaine is reluctant to take call for the special session, he is going to encourage his legislative colleagues to do so on their own.

I am schedule to sit down with the Senator tomorrow to learn more about this effort. I will also reach out to his opponent Steve Shannon and Governor Kaine’s office as well. For now, you can read the candidate’s full release after the jump:


It is apparently a big night for news in the AG race. My friend Ben Tribbett at NLS is reporting that Mike Henry, of Warner/Kaine fame has signed on to help Steve Shannon. A quality, insider get for the for the first time statewide candidate.

Cuccinelli Calls for Special Session:
“We Need to Protect Virginians From Drug Dealers and Drunk Drivers.”

FAIRFAX — Today, State Senator Ken Cuccinelli, (R-Fairfax), and Republican Candidate for Attorney General, called on Governor Tim Kaine to bring the Legislature back to Richmond immediately to address the problems created by the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.

This decision has begun forcing prosecutors to suspend drug and drunk driver prosecutions, “which is a situation that is bad and will likely get worse if we don’t act quickly,” said Cuccinelli.

“The first priority of Government is public safety. It is with this in mind that I call on Governor Kaine to convene the General Assembly as soon as possible to fix the problem with our notice waiver statute in the Virginia Code. While Virginia’s law was ruled constitutional by our Virginia Supreme Court, that ruling was a close 4-3 decision, and it is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. While I share our Attorney General’s opinion that Virginia should prevail under the current statute, the U.S. Supreme Court will not reconvene to hear this case until at least October, and the case is clearly a close call at best,” said Cuccinelli.

“Commonwealth’s Attorneys are on the front lines in the war on crime, they need to be secure in knowing that all Virginia’s statutes are constitutional and that their prosecutions will not be undone because of Melendez. And of course the state has an obligation to the defense, to ensure protection under the 6th Amendment. I believe the only way to ensure constitutionality is to conform Virginia’s notice waiver statute to Georgia’s, which the U.S. Supreme Court said is constitutional in the Melendez case. Anything less I believe would be a disservice to Virginia’s Commonwealth’s Attorneys and its law enforcement community,” concluded Cuccinelli.

Until the ruling in Melendez-Diaz, the Virginia state forensic lab was able to submit a certificate of analysis of their findings for use in court in drug and D.U.I. cases. Virginia law allows the certificate of analysis as proof of the drugs involved in the case or blood alcohol content. “With the volume of cases analyzed, requiring court appearances by the scientist in every case has the potential to cripple the criminal justice system,” noted Cuccinelli.

Local prosecutors across the Commonwealth are also asking for a special session to fix the problem. Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Garrett said, “Across the Commonwealth drunk drivers and drug dealers are going free in cases that would have been certain convictions two weeks ago.”

Senator Cuccinelli said, “A legislative fix would be much better than hiring 100-200 new scientists, which we couldn’t do now even if we tried.”

Senator Cuccinelli noted that under the Virginia Constitution, if the Governor does not act, the legislature can call itself into session if 2/3 of the Senators and 2/3 of the Delegates write to the Governor making such a request. “We can call the special session now, before too much damage has been done, or we’ll end up doing it later, after hundreds or thousands of drug defendants and drunk drivers have gotten off spot-free. I think we should act right now.”


Written by Ryan Nobles

July 9, 2009 at 10:53 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] Ken Cuccinelli, a candidate for Attorney General called on the Governor to bring the legislature back to Richmond to deal immediately with the issue, that he claims. will […]

  2. Come see my concerns about this issue and why Sen. Cuccinelli is right on this at the Virginia Right blog entry.

    Sandy Sanders

    Sandy Sanders

    July 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm

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