I believe the primary responsibility of government at every level is public safety.Everything else that citizens can accomplish,achieve and enjoy depends upon it. Schools, businesses,recreational pursuits,faith and family life are enhanced and thrive when our citizens feel safe in and out of their homes.
The prosecutorial philosophy I have always subscribed to and instill in my assistants is that, above all, we must act with fairness and integrity. To the extent it is within our power, we must insure that our citizens can have confidence in the awesome, powerful process that determines a person’s guilt and punishment.
No case should be brought against a defendant unless there is substantial likelihood, based on facts, evidence and applicable law, that the result will be, beyond a reasonable doubt, a verdict of guilty. I do not tolerate “jump ball” justice in Virginia Beach. Judges and juries resent it when the prosecution is based on “hoping for a miracle” and rightly so.
On the other hand, when the evidence supports the charges I instruct my assistants to be tough. For example: I do not permit plea bargaining with drug dealers. A drug dealer arrested in Virginia Beach has only two choices: plead guilty as charged and let the judge determine sentencing, OR face a jury of citizens who will determine the sentence. This policy has worked well. Drug dealers don’t want you, the law abiding citizens of Virginia Beach, recommending their sentences. They know it will be much higher than most judge’s sentences.
I do not permit plea bargaining on crimes with firearms. Our legislature has wisely provided mandatory minimum penitentiary sentences for felons who posses firearms, and for those who abuse the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution by using firearms in the commission of their crimes. If they use a gun while committing a felony or while a felon, they go to jail in Virginia Beach.
I am a strong believer that death is the appropriate penalty in the limited types of murders our law permits it. I believe our judges and juries should be provided that sentencing option, which only the Commonwealth’s Attorney can ask for in Virginia. My 35 years in criminal law, including the 8 I spent as a defense attorney, have convinced me that the prospect of the death penalty is a deterrent to murder in some cases. I also believe that the death penalty raises up the value of human life in our society rather than (as some who want to abolish the death penalty contend) demeaning it. Our laws wisely provide that if one takes a life or lives in very limited circumstances, they are subject to forfeiting their own. That’s how much we value human life.
I also believe that the death penalty should be extended to apply to those who are not the actual “triggerman”. For example, the one who holds down a robbery or rape victim down while another stabs, strangles or shoots to death that victim should face the death penalty too. Each time our legislature has passed bills to include such aider and abettors, the governor has vetoed them.
Domestic violence is a horrible scourge upon our community. Spousal abuse, like child abuse, is also an assault on two of the neccessary foundation blocks of our society: our homes and the institution of marriage. The damage is magnified when children are in the home. So, though not required by Virginia Law, I provide a prosecutor in the more than 2,000 domestic assault cases that occur in Virginia Beach each year. Is it coincidental that is the same number of cases we prosecute each year charging juveniles with crimes that would be felonies if they were adults ?