Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

by
In 2000, Gregory Devon Murphy was indicted for capital murder of a child and two counts of malicious wounding. The Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria found Murphy was incompetent to stand trial, and Murphy received treatment continuing in Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County. In 2015, Murphy filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court of Dinwiddie County arguing, inter alia, that the Director of Central State Hospital was detaining him without lawful authority. The Director moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the Dinwiddie Court lacked jurisdiction under Va. Code 8.01-654(B)(1). The court rejected the augment, finding that section 8.01-654(A)(1) permitted the petition to be filed in any circuit court. The Director filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent the Dinwiddie Court from proceeding in Murphy’s habeas matter, arguing that the Dinwiddie Court lacked territorial jurisdiction to hear Murphy’s petition and that she had no other adequate remedy. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ of prohibition, holding that the Dinwiddie Court had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the controversy and the Director had alternative remedies. View "In re Vauter" on Justia Law

by
The Commonwealth initiated proceedings under the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act to involuntarily commit Brady Proffitt as a sexually violent predator. After a trial, the jury found that the evidence had failed to prove that Proffitt was a sexually violent predator. The Commonwealth filed a motion to set aside the verdict, but the circuit court denied the motion. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion by excluding the testimony of two witnesses as irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and cumulative. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony, and the error was not harmless. Remanded. View "Commonwealth v. Proffitt" on Justia Law

by
The two decedents in these consolidated cases were residents at two different nursing homes operating by Virginia Health Services, Inc. After their deaths, the executors asked the nursing homes to provide copies of the written policies and procedures in effect during the decedents’ stays. The nursing homes refused, and the decedents’ estates filed declaratory judgment complaints seeking to assert a private right of action for the production of documents under 12 VAC 5-371-140(G). Specifically, the estates sought an order of “specific performance” compelling the nursing homes to provide the requested documents. The circuit court dismissed both complaints, holding that the regulation did not require the production of documents requested by the estates. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the governing statute does not imply a private right of action for the enforcement of this regulation; and (2) therefore, the estates’ claims cannot be enforced in a declaratory judgment action. View "Cherrie v. Virginia Health Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

by
The parents of Kenia Lopez-Rosario, an adult with several physical and cognitive disabilities, petitioned the circuit court appoint them as Lopez-Rosario’s co-guardians. The circuit court granted guardianship to the parents. Subsequently, Lopez-Rosario had surgery to remove her gallbladder, and the surgeon, Dr. Christine Habib, allegedly made an error that injured Lopez-Rosario. Lopez-Rosario filed a negligence suit against Dr. Habib and her employer. Defendants filed a plea in bar/motion to dismiss, arguing that Lopez-Rosario could not file suit in her own name because her parents had been appointed as her guardians. The circuit court granted the plea in bar/motion to dismiss, concluding that Lopez-Rosario did not have standing to sue in her own name. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to Va. Code 64.2-2025, Lopez-Rosario’s parents had the authority and obligation to prosecute lawsuits on Lopez-Rosario’s behalf, and therefore, Lopez-Rosario lacked standing to file suit in her own name. View "Lopez-Rosario v. Habib" on Justia Law