Taking an Appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia
You have the right to appeal. This one sentence could be the beginning, middle, and end of this blog post. In the last few years, there has been a classic local case study in the importance of the appeal process, one that has been featured on this site before.
This past week, the Ashley White case returned to the news. Once again, it showed what is good about the criminal justice system when it works within its own balanced structure.
Ashley White Case Recap:
Ashley White was charged and convicted on three different counts of child abuse and neglect after her son, Noah Thomas, died. She was sentenced to 23 months in prison. She appealed and won her appeal. Sadly, the appeal was not decided in her favor until after she had served her prison sentence, but the charge was dropped.
After the Court of Appeals decided to hear the case again, the Attorney General’s Office petitioned to the Supreme Court of Virginia. This past week, the Supreme Court of Virginia declined to hear the case.
The Appeal Process:
Three different levels of courts were part of the Ashley White case. The first was Circuit Court. Each County and City in Virginia has a Circuit Court. White was tried and convicted in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.
When White and her attorney appealed, it was done within the Virginia Court of Appeals. This court overturned the conviction and refused to hear the case again upon request by prosecutors.
That left prosecutors with a choice. They could allow the overturned conviction to stand, or they could take the case to the next highest level: the Virginia Supreme Court. Obviously, they decided to take it to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The Supreme Court of Virginia:
The Supreme Court of Virginia is the highest court in the state. It is made up of seven judges, five men and two women. A look at the argument docket for the court, as of this writing, shows that these judges hear a variety of cases, from criminal to civil. In fact, four criminal cases similar to White’s are on the docket, except that these are cases the court agreed to hear.
Because the Supreme Court refused to hear White’s case, there will be no overturning of the decision from the Court of Appeals. Prosecutors are reported to be considering their options but essentially, they are out of luck.
Ashley White was willing to fight, and she had an attorney who was willing to fight for her. People – and the media – spend a lot of time on an initial trial, and understandably so. However, we have an entire legal process that includes appeals that serves the public.
In this case, it worked for White. If you are in need of an attorney who will work like this for you, call or e-mail for a free consultation!
Case Results Disclaimer:
Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. The outcome of every case will depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and case results depicted here do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
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The blog posts contained on this website were written, in part, by a non-lawyer employee of Jordan B. Davies. However, each post has been carefully reviewed and edited by Jordan B. Davies to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.