Transparency News, 9/29/2022


September 29, 2022

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Contact us at


state & local news stories

A Chesterfield County judge presiding over the case of a former detective who admitted to altering seven search warrants says in a written opinion that the offense for which he is charged — malfeasance in office — isn’t currently a crime in Virginia. The ex-officer’s attorneys have filed a motion to have the charge dismissed. Special prosecutor G. Ryan Mehaffey brought the charge against former Chesterfield Detective Robert W. Sprouse, stating in the charging document that Spouse committed an offense under common law — a reference to English common law — “by willfully and knowingly performing an act officially for which there was no authority of law” and no power of discretion. In defending his position in a subsequent court filing, Mehaffey cited Virginia case law that he interpreted as evidence that malfeasance in office has been deemed a crime in Virginia. He also noted a legal treatise quoted in a 1923 Virginia Supreme Court decision involving a commissioner of revenue found guilty of malfeasance, which says English common law — as long as it doesn’t counteract the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of Virginia — “shall continue in full force and be the rule of decision, except as altered by the General Assembly.” But after reviewing the attorneys’ legal briefs and researching the matter, Chesterfield Circuit Judge M. Duncan Minton Jr. disagreed, siding with Sprouse’s attorneys, who argued that Virginia statutory and case law “clearly show” that malfeasance in office is not a criminal offense in Virginia.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

stories of national interest

Georgetown (Delaware) council members are standing by their decision to fund a local museum where the confederate flag flies, despite the Attorney General’s Office finding they violated a FOIA request in the process. Georgetown Town Council met Monday night and doubled down on their decision to fund the Georgetown Historical Society, which runs the Marvel Museum where the confederate flag flies. The condemnation comes after a check, for more than $24,000, was delivered to the historical society. That check  was voided by Georgetown Mayor Bill West after learning that no formal committee process was established prior to the vote that approved the funding back in July. After Mayor West voided the check, three council members, Angela Townsend, Sue Barlow, and Penuel Barrett, pushed ahead with that funding, meeting outside of council chambers to deliver a new check to the historical society last month. It was that move that violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request through open meeting requirements.

editorials & columns

American schoolchildren are growing up with a badly oversimplified lesson about their own government. They are learning that the U.S. Supreme Court is the nation’s “highest court,” a label that erroneously diminishes the power of state supreme courts. Correcting this understanding goes beyond pedagogical accuracy — it is essential for our democracy.
David Shapiro, Governing