I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 11, the Lawyer Full Employment Act

As mentioned by a lawyer previously, it’s the Lawyer Full Employment Act.

From The Washington Post: Armed With Checkbooks and Excuses, First Casualties of Va. Fees Go to Court [emphasis mine]:

Those lucky enough to live out of state or to have been pulled over before the fees went into effect July 1 — the “magic date,” as one judge called it — escaped the penalties, as did many who hired attorneys who were able to argue for lesser charges or continuances.


Norquest, who works for Fairfax County Family Services, also said she did not see the point of hiring a lawyer at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars. “You’re either paying for one or you’re paying for the other,” she said.

For those who didn’t know, Delegate David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), one of the sponsors of the bill, is a lawyer, and co-founder of a law firm that specializes in the defense of traffic offenses. No conflict of interest there, eh?

Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge

Nothing illegal here. Move along, move along… Part 2

From the AP via NBC 4 in Washington, D.C.: Judge To Hear Motion To Dismiss Charges Against Priest:

A Louisa County judge will hear arguments later this month on whether to dismiss 13 embezzlement charges against a priest accused of taking donation money from two Catholic churches where he served as pastor.

The hearing is set for Aug. 27.

The attorney for the Reverend Rodney Rodis claims in a court filing that Rodis should not be prosecuted in court if he mishandled money donated to the two parishes. Lawyer John Maus said the Catholic Diocese of Richmond should handle the case, due to the U.S. Constitution’s clause prohibiting government interference in church matters.

In Louisa County Circuit Court Wednesday, Maus discussed the possibility of calling in high-ranking church authorities to testify at the hearing.

Rodis is being held without bond in the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange after being accused of stealing up to $1 million. He’s scheduled to go to trial in October.

I must have missed the clause of the U.S. Constitution that “prohibit[s] government interference in church matters.” The First Amendment states the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; […]”

Is the embezzlement of one million dollars part of the free exercise of his religion now? Using this idiot lawyer’s rationale the government wouldn’t be able to prosecute a priest (or father, or reverend, or rabbi, or iman) accused of sexual misconduct with a minor or any other crime that occurred in a church, temple, synagogue, or mosque.

The previous post on this story received the following response from Phil Scoggin:

After hurricane Katrina “Father” Rodney Rodis made an impassioned plea from the pulpit for donations to help the “Katrina Victims”. I was so moved that I grabbed my wife’s checkbook and dashed off a $500 check for “Katrin Relief”. I noticed others taking similar actions. The collection was taken by the ushers. Over a year later we learned that the checks did not go to the Katrina victims but instead were deposited by Rodis in a secret account in the Heartland bank in Fredericksburg. The only signatory to that account was Rodis. The money has since disapeared from the Heartland bank in checks and with-drawalls written by Rodis.

What an upstanding individual there.

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 6

Return of the Jedi, from Fredericksburg.com: Kaine says abusive driver reimbursements are ’08 option [emphasis wholly mine]:

Amid ebbing legislative support for the state’s new abusive driver fees, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Friday that reimbursing those who have paid them is an option the General Assembly can consider in 2008.

“We have a chance to fix it,” the Democratic governor told reporters.

“Look, we might have the ability to do reimbursements,” he said. “I’m not going to commit to that, but if there’s a decision made by the legislature, that’s one option they could consider.”

Virginians statewide have responded with outrage to the “civil remedial fees” payable in three annual installments that can range from $750 for driving with a suspended license to $3,000 for a driving-related felony. Nonresidents are exempt from the fees.

The possibility of refunds is a trade-off that may help Kaine and other supporters of the fees resist calls for a special legislative session to repeal the law this year. Kaine favors mending its flaws after the regular 2008 legislature convenes in January.

Refunds are possible, Kaine said, because the revenue from the fees has not been budgeted.

“The dollars from the abuser fees were not scheduled to be used for another year-and-a-half,” he said. Besides refunds, legislators could decide to suspend payment of the second and third installments of the fees, he said.


Kaine’s remarks came one day after Sen. Charles J. Colgan called for not only repealing the prohibitive surcharges Virginia began imposing on its worst drivers July 1, but refunding the fees to all who have paid them.

“I’ve thought this was a lousy bill all along,” Colgan, D-Prince William, said in an interview Friday. He voted against it consistently, but supported the amended version the House and Senate accepted in April.

Then you didn’t vote against it consistently, you moron.

Colgan and other legislative Democrats have parted with Kaine over the abusive driver provisions in the past three weeks. Unlike many of them, Colgan does not favor a special legislative session this year.

In a news conference with House and Senate Republican leaders last week, Kaine resisted growing calls for a special session to repeal the bill, asking for more time to study the effectiveness of the fees in reducing traffic accidents and dangerous driving.

In addition to political opposition to the fees, the first effort to have courts declare them unconstitutional got on track Thursday. A Henrico County General District Court is expected to render the first ruling on the law by Aug. 2, the first step toward a state Supreme Court decision.

Virginia modeled its penalties against egregious driving on those already in effect in Michigan and New Jersey. But there is no data in either of those states that conclusively demonstrates that roads became safer as a result.

Kaine on Friday cited unspecified “anecdotal evidence” since July 1 that he said suggests the fees are working.

Uh, Kaine can you open your mouth without removing any doubt that you’re an idiot? What “anecdotal evidence”? Do I have to file a freedom of information act (FOIA) request for it?

I have a question, Governor, are you going to pay interest for the reimbursements? How much will it cost to reimburse people in administrative fees for the original collection and then reimbursement?

You sir, are a bold face liar, you have not intention of repelling the law, otherwise, you would have requested a special session. You’re hoping that people forget completely about by January. I, for one, won’t have.

Remember this crap in November people.

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 5

The Empire Strikes Back, or something, from The Washington Post: Va. Enacted Bad-Driver Fees Despite Red Flags [emphasis wholly mine]:

Virginia lawmakers imposed steep new fees on bad drivers this year despite warning signs from states with similar programs that they cause a surge in unlicensed motorists and have crippling effects on the poor.

The licenses of tens of thousands of motorists in New Jersey and Michigan have been suspended because they cannot afford the fees, and little evidence has emerged that such fines improve highway safety, according to state officials and studies.

Numerous lawmakers, judges and social activists in both states have sought to either repeal the fees or make major changes in how they are collected. But once the programs are implemented, they are difficult to get rid of, because state lawmakers are unwilling to give up the revenue they raise, judges and lawmakers said.

Which is why Kaine and those coward Republicans refuse to have a special session to do anything about them.


Lawmakers predicted that the measures, in effect since July 1, would improve highway safety and raise $65 million a year, to be used for new road and rail projects. On Monday, however, Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) joined a growing list of legislators calling for repeal, saying the measures are “beyond repair.”

But you were supporting them a couple weeks ago, are you saying you didn’t read the legislation you voted on, Mr. Lingamfelter?

At a news conference last week defending the fees, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said they had no information to suggest that there were problems in states that use such fees.

Yeah, I bet, you weasels.

When Buhl heard that Virginia lawmakers were considering the fees last year, he e-mailed all 140 legislators, explaining why he thought the program was a failure in Michigan, which began assessing the fees in 2003. No one responded, Buhl said.

Officials in Michigan and New Jersey say Virginians should brace for problems, including clogged courts and the prospect of thousands of residents having to choose between keeping their licenses and paying their bills.


Under pressure to repeal the fees, the state [New Jersey] commissioned a study last year that found that although only 16 percent of residents live in low-income areas, those neighborhoods house nearly 40 percent of the people whose licenses have been suspended for failure to pay fees and fines.


Cathleen Lewis, a New Jersey motor vehicle agency spokeswoman, said there is no way to determine whether the fees “conclusively impact highway safety.”

In Michigan, traffic fatalities declined 12 percent from 2003 to 2005, compared with a 2.2 percent increase nationwide during that period, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A spokesman for the Michigan State Police said it is too early to tell whether the decline can be attributed to the fees.


In Virginia, Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Bushnell said state prosecutors are bracing for similar problems.

“The way this thing works out, it is going to have an absolutely ruinous effect on financially challenged Virginians,” he said. “To my knowledge, no one from the police was consulted. We weren’t consulted. The court clerks weren’t consulted. Had it come up, I think the General Assembly would have been aware of all kinds of concerns from Virginians about the unanticipated downside to this program.”

Well, it’s nice to see the Republicans are going to lose the General Assembly this year (note the sarcasm). However, it might be worth it since Kaine has just Gilmored himself.

Hat tip: Overlawyered

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 4

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Henrico judge to rule on driving-offense fees:

A Henrico judge said he will issue an opinion next Thursday on whether the state’s new fee system for traffic infractions should be found unconstitutional.

In an unusual proceeding that lasted almost an hour, Henrico General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III said he will decide in a written opinion whether a 23-year-old Henrico man facing his fifth offense for driving without a license should be subject to some $700 in fees in addition to court costs and fines.

Anthony O. Price pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge today and Yeatts found him guilty. But Yeatts said he wants more time to mull over arguments in the case about the fees.

The fee structure, which went into effect July 1, is expected to pump some $60 million into state highway funds. But the fees do not apply to out-of-state drivers. Price’s lawyers argue that the law is in violation of equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution.

“There’s no reason why out-of-state drivers should be any less subject to the fees than Virginia drivers,” said Esther Windmueller, one of Price’s lawyers.

Windmueller said multiple opinions are likely on the issue from courts across Virginia as the fees begin to come into play in court proceedings.

Resolution will have to come from the General Assembly or state Supreme Court, meaning that thousands off drivers likely will have to pay the fees before it is clear they are legal.

The saga continues…

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 3

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Big fines for bad drivers tested:

A courtroom assault yesterday on the state’s new fees for traffic offenses fizzled in a cloud of legal briefs and a no-show.

After a Henrico County judge politely said he didn’t have the authority to address the issue, a Henrico man portrayed as a test case to overthrow the civil remedial fees failed to show up for his court appearance.

“Is Anthony Price here? Anthony Price?” defense lawyer Esther Windmueller asked unsuccessfully, scanning a General District courtroom.

General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III, who had less than an hour earlier refused to rule on the constitutional merits of the fees, rescheduled Price’s case for Aug. 23 and moved on to a reckless driving case.

That left Windmueller suggesting to reporters that she might have to troll the hallways of the Henrico Courts building for a new plaintiff.


The fees, passed by the legislature this year, are intended to generate more than $60 million toward state road funds. So far they have mostly generated fever-pitch public opposition — in large part because out-of-state drivers aren’t subject to the ramped-up fines.


In Richmond traffic court yesterday morning, clerks were marveling at the city’s first instance of a traffic offense that invoked the costly fee structure.

A July 1, noontime stop on Lee Bridge had produced charges of reckless driving and no valid driver’s license for a man court papers identified as Rolando Reyes.

“This was our first one,” said Irving C. Wright, clerk of the Richmond General District Court’s traffic division.

Yesterday, Reyes saw the reckless driving charge reduced to speeding but saw his costs explode.

Instead of being limited to fines and court costs of $317, Reyes had to pay $617 with the addition of the new $300 penalty fee.

And he’ll owe $600 more in coming months in two $300 installments, bringing the total to $1,217.

Had Reyes not had the reckless driving charge reduced, he could have been looking at a total of more than $2,200.


Besides the fact that out-of-state offenders don’t face the extra penalties, critics say, the fees most severely affect low-income traffic offenders, and collection efforts are expected to clog the courts and increase the number of cumbersome cases that involve defense lawyers.

“People will get lawyers hoping they can reduce the charges,” said Henrico General District Court Clerk Lawrence G. Sprader.

The state attorney general’s office argued to Yeatts yesterday that only a higher court can block the fees. Yeatts agreed, saying that a legal theory of seeking to bar the clerk’s office from collecting the fees is improper.

“The judge imposes the fee,” said Yeatts, noting that the judges control the actions of the clerk.

Windmueller said she and co-counsel Craig S. Cooley will likely take the case to the higher court, the county’s Circuit Court, before the end of the week. Traffic cases from the lower court that are subject to the fees are likely to reach circuit courts across the state, also, as the cases are appealed. That would produce scores of opportunities to challenge the law, lawyers familiar with traffic cases said yesterday.


Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has said he favors waiting for the regular session in January to make the fee structure more equitable.

If there’s a problem Governor, why wait?

Again, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch [photo credit: Virginia House of Delegates]: Delegate does U-turn, now opposes high fees:

Scott Lingamfelter Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, now says he opposes increased fees on bad drivers.

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, who 12 days ago defended unsafe-driver fees, now says they should be repealed.


Lingamfelter declined to say whether the General Assembly should be called back into special session to repeal the bill. That is up to the leadership, he said, but if he came back to Richmond, he would vote for repeal.

Lingamfelter said the bill is “at best complicated.” It also should apply to all drivers, not just Virginians, he added. In addition, he said the fees should be focussed [sic] on curbing bad driving, not on repairing roads.

Twelve days ago, Lingamfelter wrote an op-ed article in which he defended the fees, saying only reckless drivers should be disturbed by them.

The House Democratic Caucus issued a news release yesterday calling Lingamfelter “flip-flop Scott.”

“He saw his support for the abusive-driving tax that exempts out-of-state drivers as hurting him politically, so he put political expediency above principle,” caucus spokesman Mark Bergman said.

A Democrat, William Day of Prince William, is opposing Lingamfelter in November.

Lingamfelter said “real leaders listen, learn and act. They do not name-call, which is what the Democrats do.”

So you admit you’re not a “real leader”? You appear to have listened and learned but where is your act? You’re sitting on your fat ass complaining. Why do you refuse to call for a special session? If there’s a problem Delegate, why wait?

Again, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Driver fees about to be tested in court:

An effort to stop Virginia’s new special fees for traffic offenses great and small will get another day in a Henrico County court this morning. Anthony Price has been found.

A legal team had said Tuesday that Price would serve as an important test case to overthrow the fees as unconstitutional. But Price, who lives in Henrico, didn’t show up for court. That left his lawyers, a judge, and a gaggle of media with no case, no ruling and no story.

But Price, located yesterday by a Times-Dispatch reporter, said that he believed his court date was today and he was unaware that a high-powered legal team was ready to defend him.

“Who?” Price said yesterday when asked if he’d been contacted by prominent trial lawyers Craig S. Cooley and Esther Windmueller.

Windmueller said her efforts to contact Price about court dates and her representation likely got lost in the mail.


Price got in touch with the lawyers yesterday, and Windmueller said he would appear at a General District Court hearing this morning.

Price is facing his fifth charge of driving on a suspended license. If convicted today, he faces $750 in penalty fees in addition to fines and court costs. He referred questions about his driving history to his lawyers.

But Price’s conviction, which his lawyers said they would appeal, would set in motion an effort to end the fees statewide.

A Henrico General District Court judge on Tuesday refused to consider legal arguments that the fees were unconstitutional because the motions were brought before the court independent of a defendant being charged with one of the offenses.

But Price does face a traffic charge affected by the new fees. If the judge rules that the fees are unconstitutional, the ruling will likely be appealed by the state.

The special fees went into effect July 1 and are just beginning to reach traffic courts. They apply to dozens of traffic infractions, from manslaughter to a failed turn signal. They have outraged tens of thousands of drivers.


A key constitutional issue centers on the fact that the higher fees do not apply to out-of-state drivers, even when they commit the same driving offenses as a Virginian.

One lawyer said yesterday that she would raise the argument that a person from another country, whether in Virginia illegally or on a visa, should not have to pay the fee, either.

The fees range from $3,000 for more-serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter and felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle to $900 for having below-standard tires or failing to wear a seat belt while operating a school bus, according to guidelines published by the state Supreme Court.

For now I give a reprieve for lawyers.

Nothing illegal here. Move along, move along…

From NBC 4 in Washington, D.C.: Lawyer For Jailed Priest Says Case Is A Church Matter:

The attorney for a Virginia Catholic priest suspected of stealing from two churches wants the theft charges dropped because he claims the matter is an internal church affair outside the legal system’s jurisdiction.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis faces 13 charges of stealing as much as $1 million while he was a pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass and St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral.

Rodis’ lawyer, John R. Maus, filed a motion in Louisa Circuit Court last week to dismiss the charges, arguing that the U.S. Constitution bans the government from interfering in church matters.

According to the motion filed, church law grants a pastor a certain authority to handle money for the two churches.

“Whether his use of such funds exceeded his authority as administrator of these parishes will necessarily involve this court in the interpretation and application of (church) law,” the motion states.

R. Don Short, Louisa County’s commonwealth’s attorney, disagrees. “I don’t think the fact that you’re a priest immunizes you from criminal prosecution,” he said.


Rodis is accused of stealing donations from 1995 until his retirement last year.

Parishioners have said that Rodis handled much of the donation money personally. Investigators claim he deposited some donation funds into a Fredericksburg bank account set up in the churches’ name without the congregations’ knowledge and used the money for other purposes.


William Etherington, a lawyer who represents the Richmond Diocese, thinks Maus’ argument is off base.

“I don’t think the First Amendment says that,” Etherington said.

He likened the argument to someone trying to claim that child-molestation cases should be handled as an internal church matter. “That’s crazy,” he said.

At least the church is smart enough to tell the lawyer to buzz off. The reverend (shouldn’t it be Father?) must really be guilty if this is the best a lawyer can come up with. What next, “the devil made me do it!”?

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 2

See previous article

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Kaine, GOP united on traffic fines:

Virginians will have to put up with new, stiff fines for bad drivers at least until early next year.


They’re now immune because Kaine and lawmakers this year agreed the fines would be difficult to collect from non-Virginians — a feature of which some legislators said they were unaware.

Read the legislation I’m voting on? Parish the thought!

“Being for driver safety is a good thing,” said Kaine. “We need to study it in a deliberate way before we rush into it.”

What the hell kind of line is that? Is someone going to say they’re for bad driver safety? I’m sure these fines are going to slow people down on I-95.

Kaine and Howell, accompanied by transportation and safety advocates as well as the Republican majority leaders of the House and Virginia Senate, emphasized that Virginians need not fear the controversial fines if they drive safely.

Here’s hoping all of you get tickets, you corrupt asses.

Howell and Senate Majority Leader Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, suggested that bloggers, the news media and a confusing overview of the law on the Virginia Supreme Court Web site have contributed to public misunderstanding.

“Those damn bloggers! Exposing our actions like that!” Where have I heard that before?

“I don’t feel we dropped the [public relations] ball,” Howell said. “This has been a storm that no one anticipated.”

Because someone found out about it. You thought you could hide in your offices, vote on bills, and no one would notice what’s in them.

The unlikely display of bipartisanship at a state Capitol news conference was aimed at quelling a spreading voter revolt, largely via the Internet, that potentially threatens some legislators in fall elections for the House and Senate.

Unfortunately for me, no one is running against McDougle or Wittman.


A growing number of legislators, most of them Republicans, have urged Kaine to order the General Assembly into special session this summer to revise the penalties, some of which could cost drivers thousands of dollars over three years. Felony offenses, such as reckless driving, carry a $3,000 fine.

I thought you wanted them fix, Kaine, you lying bastard. You just want people to totally forget about it by next year. If there’s a problem, why wait?

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, told reporters he believed the Virginia courts would rule that it is constitutional for the state to limit the penalties to Virginians. Griffith, a lawyer, who — like Albo — handles traffic cases, said the new law could cut into his business.

“We’re going to tell our clients, ‘Hey, I’m not going to challenge its constitutionality. You may want another lawyer,'” said Griffith. “It’s going to cost us a few clients.”

You’re so full of it. They’re going to hire you in the hope of being found not guilty or negotiating a plea deal for an amended charge you weasels.

Here’s hoping the people that voted for this get their asses kicked in November.

"The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers."

From 630 WMAL in Washington, D.C.: How Much Is Enough?:

Thomas Fadoul wants Virginia to form a money pool modeled after the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which would be used to pay the families of the 32 people killed by gunman Seung Hui Cho on the Virginia Tech campus last April.

Fadoul told 630 WMAL’s Chris Core that the seven-million dollar Hokie Spirit Fund already collected by the school is woefully inadequate to meet the expenses of the victims’ families, and he is hoping to see compensation that is more in line with the amounts received by the families of those who died at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The amounts by those families averaged around two million dollars. Fadoul is meeting with his clients this week to decide whether to move forward with a formal proposal to create a compensation fund.

Fadoul say such a fund could come from taxpayer contributions, and that fundraising efforts could include personal appeals from the victims’ families. Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the distribution of the September 11th funds, is now the administrator of the existing Hokie Spirit Fund.

He is recommending compensation ranging from $8,000 for those who were in Norris Hall on the day of the shooting to $150,000 for the families of those killed in the tragedy.

You people have some nerve, when are you going to start selling your homes and cars for these people? How convenient is it that the lawyer himself, Thomas Fadoul, would receive money not just from legal fees from the relatives but also due to the fact that his cousin was murdered during the massacre? How convenient is it that those who lost someone will receive over eighteen (18) times more than those that were in the building. How are those that were injured supposed to pay for their hospital bills and counseling?

In no way an attempt to minimize the lost to the families, but how many of the students were supporting a family like the police, firefighters, and other victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks?

And here’s the link for those wishing to donate. The fund will be closed for donations on August 1st.

"You want my money, my money."

From The Politico: North to Alaska:

Rep. Don Young attacked his fellow Republicans on the House floor Wednesday, as he defended education funds allocated to his home-state of Alaska.

“You want my money, my money,” Young stridently declared before warning conservatives that, “Those who bite me will be bitten back.”

Young took extreme exception to an amendment by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to strike money in a spending bill for native Alaskan and Hawaiian educational programs.

Conservatives have stoked the ire of their fellow Republicans for years by challenging federal spending, both broadly and on specific projects. But it’s rare that their GOP colleagues express that displeasure openly on the floor.


And lest we forget, Young, who used to chair the House Transportation Committee, is responsible for the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” a proposed span connecting Ketchikan, Alaska, with the tiny island of Gravina that would have cost $315 million ? and eventually came to symbolize profligate spending under Republican rule.

Garrett refrained from asking for an official reprimand, but he and other conservative Republicans took after Young’s declaration that the funds in question represented his money. The assembled conservatives then launched into a general attack on earmarked spending.

“We legally steal,” argued Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), defending her colleague from New Jersey.

Your freakin’ money? You have some freakin’ nerve. You asses are projected to spend $2,902,000,000,000 this year and you dare to call it your money? And Republicans wonder why no one voted for them in November, it is because of crap like this. It is nice to see at least two representatives in the whole house have some sense.

Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge