19 February 2005

Synopsis on Recent Virginia Appellate Cases

Davis v. Commonwealth
In a recent case the Virginia Court of Appeals addressed the issue of what “court custody” includes. Davis was out on bond and ordered to report to the jail after a bench trial that where he pled guilty to five felony drug charges and three misdemeanor offenses. When Davis failed to report to the jail, the trial court found him guilty of escaping from court custody and sentenced him to two years of prison with one year suspended. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, finding that Davis was not in the court’s custody. The Court held that for a person to be in custody there must be some type of physical control or submission. By not reporting to the jail, Davis never submitted to the court’s authority. However, the trial court can still use it’s other remedies for failure to abide its orders.

Gilbert v. Commonwealth
In this case the Virginia Court of Appeals held that spitting on another person, even without inflicted an injury constitutes an assault and battery. The court held that when Gilbert spit on an officer’s head he committed an act that involved physical contact and was deeply offensive. Although it seems a stretch that Gilbert intended to harm the officer purely by spitting on him, Gilbert also threatened to kill the officer before and after he spit.

Johnson v. Commonwealth
In a case decided just three days ago, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that when the defendant fails to address all of the holdings in his appeal when there are more then one alternative holdings by the lower court, then the result is a waiver of any claim of error with respect to that issue. This holding becomes clearer when given context. The trial court held that: 1) the officer who frisked Johnson did not exceed the permissible limits of a weapons search 2) and even if the officer had exceeded the permissible limits the doctrine of inevitable discovery would have made the fruits of the search admissible. Johnson only appealed the first holding as to whether the officer exceeded the permissible limits of a weapon search. The Court of Appeals declared that even if they found error in the first holding, the second holding was not appealed. Thus, the evidence would still be admissible, and the trial court’s holding would still stand. Since the outcome of the holding does not matter if only one issue is addressed, the Court of Appeals found that a waiver of any claim of error regarding the issue in that holding when all of the alternative holdings are not appealed.

1 comment:

Indiana Public Defender said...

In Indiana, we have a 'Battery by Bodily Waste" statute.

Indiana Public Defender