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Another Hero This Week: Assistant Public Defender Armon Pollack!

I am sure this suspect is glad that Norfolk has a Public Defender office!

He’d already pleaded guilty to a felony. Then his lawyer discovered it wasn’t a crime.

Here’s the story from the Virginian-Pilot and a few highlights (with my analysis):

Cordell Davis can thank two things for saving him from a felony conviction that could have ultimately sent him to prison for years: his new lawyer’s sharp eye and a box cutter.

Davis, 52, had already pleaded guilty to the charge – being a felon in possession of a weapon – when assistant public defender Armon “A.J.” Pollack took over his case ahead of a sentencing hearing scheduled for last week.

it is not clear who the first lawyer was and let’s leave it in the past; the weapon law is arcane and this could happen to any lawyer.  I tried to win a case in Prince William County once (and maybe I did – or got a better deal) on the issue of a “dirk” as a weapon.  But this was not a ceremonial dagger, but rather a…box cutter.

That’s when Pollack came in.

His key discovery: a 2007 state Supreme Court opinion seemingly tailor-made for the Davis case.


That same razor blade would have counted as a weapon if it had been free floating in Davis’ pocket, jury-rigged into a shiv, or in another setup where the blade was exposed. But when a blade is able to retract into a device like a box cutter or utility knife, it’s legal for anyone to carry – including a felon.  (emphasis added by blogger)

Keep in mind, I am sure Assistant Public Defender Pollack was able to not just research the law but maybe ask a colleague or two in the PD office in Norfolk, since all they do is practice criminal law and procedure (and the Commonwealth’s Attorneys and their assistants do too unless they are in a small county or city where the CA is part-time) so that institutional advantage the public defender office will have.

Or maybe Pollack got training on issues like this through the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission and was ready to examine this “conviction” in a different light.

So what happened, Sanders?  Did a guilty defendant get off again?

No.  The suspect beat the felony rap because it WAS NOT A CRIME!  And only served four months on two misdemeanors!

In the Davis case, Pollack relayed his finding to the prosecutor in the case, who agreed with his analysis. In his Norfolk courtroom Friday, so did Circuit Judge David Lannetti.

The lawyers refashioned the plea agreement: This time, Davis pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and marijuana possession, both misdemeanors.

Thanks to a dedicated public defender, justice was truly done in a Norfolk courtroom.  We need public defenders in every courtroom in the Commonwealth.  Thanks also to a reporter with a very famous name, Jonathan Edwards, at the Pilot.



About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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