Brief Cases

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Brief Cases is published occasionally to update information on previously published articles and/or to add comment upon them. Sometimes the content will be new, particularly as the material is deemed to be of note.


A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 when it placed Cuccinelli in charge (acting) of the agency that runs the nation’s legal immigration system. Trump is expected to appeal.

Judge Randolph Moss ruled that the vacancy rules require a federal agency’s “first assistant” to assume leadership when the top job is open, saying, further, “Cuccinelli’s appointment fails to comply with the (law) for a more fundamental and clear-cut reason: he never did and never will serve in a subordinate role — that is, as an ‘assistant’ — to any other USCIS official.”  The ruling if upheld threatens the validity of policy directives issued by Cuccinelli.

The surprise push to insert  Cuccinelli in the Trump administration came from, among others, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and longtime Republican conservative activist.  All are ever so grateful.


In Richmond, public defenders make nearly 40 percent less than their counterparts in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Some prosecutors right out of law school make more than public defenders with 10 years of experience. Internal numbers show that 65 percent of the employees in the Richmond Public Defender’s Office have left in the last 3 years. Pay scales are an obvious explanation for the turnover. Why the disparity?

Both offices of the justice system are state-funded positions and are generally paid equally. But Virginia law allows localities to supplement both offices, and that’s where much of the disparity is created. Richmond, for example,  funded its Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office with roughly $7 million last year; the Public Defender’s Office, meanwhile, got nothing.  Some 25 localities provide such supplemental funding.

This difference, of course, means that indigent defendants must rely on counsel who get paid far less than their prosecutorial counterparts. The wage scale disparity also affects support staff such as paralegals.  In the legislative session recently ended, a bill to create parity in supplemental funding died   It was opposed  by Commonwealth Attorneys statewide, citing it, in part, an unfunded mandate. The committee handling it punted it to next year.  Consequently, the criminal justice process and system tilts even more precipitously against defendants represented by public defenders.  

Nearly 50 years ago on September 11, 1970 (how’s that for an anniversary date?), then-Vice President Spiro T. Agnew addressed the Republican National Convention, launching into a harangue against the national media with which Agnew had a tumultuous, acrimonious relationship. His verbal assault was a marvel of alliteration for which the VP was not known.  Most attribute the statement to William Safire.  In short, it reads:
In the United States today, we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism… they have formed their own 4-H clubs–hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of hate.
By 1973, Agnew was under investigation for bribery during his tenure as Governor of Maryland. Following resignation and failure to reestablish himself successfully in any form of commerce, Agnew solicited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1980 for $2 million to launch a campaign against an alleged conspiracy against him by a Jewish cabal. The funds were deposited in a Swiss account from which he received interest of some $200,000 per year.
Our current President displays no capacity for alliteration but enormous attraction to repetition such as the terms fake news and fake media.  In two recent instances, questions posed by White House correspondents have been declared to be “nasty.”  Adding this term to Mr. Agnew’s extends the alliteration into contemporary political dialogue, continuing a tradition of GOP and conservative communication with the media.
An anonymous tweet captured the alliterative potential for yet a different headline:
Narcissism Noted for Nasty Negatives Negates Novel Notion of  Newness. Yeah it gets thin, but the idea is there.



Categories: Brief Cases, Immigration, Issues, Local, politics, press, prosecutors, public defenders, State

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