Okay, here’s some details on the January 21 defeat of the Appellate Defender bill:
The bill was assigned to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee where there were 7 Democrats and 8 Republicans. This committee is chaired by Sen. Tommy Norment, who has a private practice of law in Williamsburg area. I also noticed that my Senator, Ryan McDougle was on this committee. I was not sure how my senator felt at the time. Also on that committee was Senator McEachin who I have met briefly a time or two and who’s bill about foreclosures was blogged about here at Virginia Right. (That did not pass either.) Finally, I am slightly acquainted with both Senator Tom Garrett (Here’s a blog post on his exciting primary win!), Senator Louise Lucas, who I met briefly one time shortly after she lost her bid for Congress and Senator John Edwards, who not only got the rules of evidence passed but who I discussed this issue with at last year’s Leaders in the Law award reception (He was awarded this prestigious honor for the passage of the rules of evidence.; Petersen was awarded it the year before.).
I thought we were ready. But we were not as ready as I thought I was! I should have briefed each senator.
Chairman Norment was not sitting and nor was Senator Henry Marsh (Something about an inaugural…) so we have in the center chair – none other than MY senator Ryan McDougle. The bill was called and Senator Petersen spoke briefly and he then asked me to address the committee. After my remarks, remarks from a representative of the Indigent Defense Commission, and some debate among senators, the motion was made to pass the bill by indefinitely (A polite way to kill it) which garnered the following vote:
Eight Yes to kill the bill – All the Republicans (including Senator Obenshain, candidate for AG) except for Senator McDougle, and two Dems – Senators Lucas and Janet Howell! (I have no idea why – they did not explain their vote and their vote would have made the difference.)
Five No to pass the bill – Democratic Senators Edwards, Saslaw, McEachin and Linda T. Puller agreed with McDougle.
I must say that I hope Senator Petersen will again introduce the AD bill and I want to honor Senator McDougle’s vision in voting YES. If you agree, send an email to both of these senators thanking them for their vision. Petersen is at district34 [at] senate.virginia.gov and McDougle is at district04 [at] senate.virginia.gov. I believe we should have, in fact, a state-wide Appellate Defender with a 3 million dollar budget. I do not intend to give up on this.