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Virginia prosecutor facing DUI charge, questions

As his Virginia city’s chief prosecutor, he takes legal action against people accused of felonies and some misdemeanors. But as an ordinary citizen, he has rights that prosecutors, police and courts are bound to uphold.

According to one Virginia newspaper, his roles as prosecutor and citizen were put at odds with one another after he was arrested last year on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney was arrested in October by a State Trooper who reportedly saw the elected official drive over safety cones in a work zone. During the arrest, he declined to submit to breath or blood tests. Since the arrest, he has apparently declined to discuss details of the event with the public or press.

A Virginia Pilot columnist writes that “the public official takes precedence over the private citizen,” arguing that the prosecutor “must adhere to a higher standard” and as the city’s head law enforcement official, “had a duty to take the test.”

The prosecutor was found guilty late last week of misdemeanor DUI and refusal to take a Breathalyzer. His penalty: 72 hours in jail.

The prosecutor announced that he’s appealing the verdict to the Circuit Court.  

The columnist also wrote that he feels that the prosecutor should not be forced to resign over the DUI. Instead, the prosecutor should ask to be forgiven and then “given an opportunity to make amends.”

First, of course, our system of justice must run its course. Then the prosecutor and the voters can decide what’s best for him and for the residents of Norfolk.

Until then, he and his defense attorney must be given their chance to make their argument to the court. 

Source: PilotOnline.com, “A tale of two Underwoods should end in forgiveness,” Roger Chesley, April 29, 2014

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