Transparency News, 8/5/21


August 5, 2021
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state & local news stories

Democrats who control the state House and Senate have been holding discussions in secret as they narrow down the list of applicants for eight appellate court openings. House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that some candidates have had phone calls with legislators and some have met with legislators. She said lawmakers hope to narrow the field to eight by early next week and then do a public interview with them, possibly on Tuesday. Carl Tobias, professor of law at the University of Richmond, said lawmakers should have held their discussions in public unless there was a compelling reason not to, like an ethical question or something that would embarrass an applicant. “The issue really is, can you get the best people by using this kind of process,” Tobias said. “I think that’s the question and I don’t know the answer to that. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. But it’s usually better if you have those interviews in public with questions from the senators and delegates.  “It just seems to be like more sunshine is probably better.” Surovell noted that lawmakers received input and screening by various legal associations, and a list of some applicants recommended by the Virginia State Bar was made public. He said by text Wednesday from an undisclosed location that the current process is more transparent than past processes and “our certification process will have a public hearing just like has been done for decades and is also done in the federal system.”
The Richmond Times

Eastern Virginia Medical School announced its president and provost of the past decade, Richard V. Homan, will no longer lead the institution and a temporary appointee has been tapped to take his place. The switch followed a special meeting Wednesday morning of the Board of Visitors, for which the school published no agenda. After the announcement, The Virginian-Pilot requested a copy, which indicated an officer election and a closed session to discuss business related to operations and finances. “Quite honestly, we were going into closed session (today), and the purpose was to have a decision on who was going to be the rector and vice rector,” new rector  Bruce Waldholtz said. “That’s why there’s no agenda. We knew why we were coming here — to make that decision.”
The Virginian-Pilot

As the bribery trial for former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe got underway Wednesday morning, defense attorney James Broccoletti told jurors something to keep in mind as they hear from dozens of witnesses over the next couple of weeks. “There is one phrase I want you to remember,” the defense lawyer said as he began opening arguments at U.S. District Court in Norfolk. “Friends don’t bribe friends.”
The Virginian-Pilot

Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey’s government-issued tablet computer was seized by police during an ongoing embezzlement investigation and later found to have been subsequently wiped of data through a remote means, according to a search warrant. Jeffrey was the iPad tablet’s only administrator and the only person able to wipe the hard drive, according to a search warrant affidavit filed this week in Roanoke Circuit Court.
The Roanoke Times

The Augusta County Courthouse now has four recently restored record books back from extensive work. Some of the records date back to the late 1700s. Augusta County Clerk of Circuit Court R. Steven Landes announced that his office recently received four records, which were restored and conserved, this week. Conservation of the pieces could be done thanks to the financial assistance of a 2020 Library of Virginia Circuit Court Records Preservation Program grant worth $12,598. The clerk's office has applied for these grants since 1994. 
News Leader
stories from around the country
Mobile, Ala., City Councilman and mayoral candidate Fred Richardson’s emails are restored after being shut down for two weeks because he refused to take cybersecurity training, ending a dispute that is steeped with Mobile mayoral politics 22 days from the August 24 election. But Richardson’s attempts to make sure future councils are allowed “unhindered” access to their official city email accounts proved fruitless on Tuesday. The Mobile City Council, with two members missing, voted down a resolution that would have prevented the city’s administration from shutting off the email accounts of elected council members if they refuse directives from the mayor’s administration, such as cybersecurity training.

An Arizona judge ordered the state’s Republican-led Senate to produce records related to its audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, delivering a big win for critics of the controversial review. The documents, sought by left-leaning watchdog group American Oversight, are subject to Arizona’s public records statute and must be provided to the organization “immediately,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp ruled Monday.
Washington Examiner