Thursday, March 22, 2007

New appeals granted by the Virginia Supreme Court

The Virginia Supreme Court announced three more cases it has granted appeals, all criminal matters. One of the cases, Commonwealth v. Selph, has an interesting fact pattern. After the jury returned a guilty verdict at his robbery trial, Mr. Selph turned to one of the witnesses, his nephew, and said "You're dead." Later, when being led from the courtroom, Mr. Selph "'turned again' in [his nephew's] direction, put his left hand to his temple, 'with [his] left index finger extended touching [his] temple and [his] thumb pointed upwards,' and again said, 'You're dead.'" For those actions, Mr. Selph was charged and convicted of obstruction of justice, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The issue in the case seems to be whether the threat against a witness after the trial "constitutes obstruction of justice because the witness was not 'lawfully engaged in the discharge of his duty' at the time of the threat."