Huguely hearing: Mum on medical records, no TV in court

On Monday, November 7, the public got a taste of what's to come during a hearing on motions concerning the medical records of slain UVA student Yeardley Love. As attorney for alleged killer George Huguely, Fran Lawrence, made his argument for gaining access to the medical records and said that Huguely didn't know Love was dead when he left her, and that there "was very little blood" at the scene, his statements prompted an immediate objection from Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman.

"I'd like to ask the judge to take control of proceedings here," Chapman demanded. "This is more like an opening statement."

Love, a fourth-year student weeks from graduation, was found dead in her apartment May 3, 2010, from what the medical examiner called blunt force trauma.

In a hearing in December, Judge Robert Downer agreed Huguely's attorneys could see records relating to her use of Adderall, a commonly prescribed stimulant, which was found in her blood, but would not allow "a fishing expedition."

Chapman argued for the closed hearing as a way to "stop additional evidence" from coming to light, and "spin on the case" of the kind that Lawrence let slip. Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire grants the medical records motion, but then asked reporters, spectators, family members, and everyone else in the courtroom to leave while they discussed what could be used and why.

Later, Hogshire ruled that there would be no live TV coverage in the courtroom, that sequestering the jury would be a "last resort" (though he said he was remaining open-minded), that a lengthy questionnaire the defense wanted for potential jurors could be much shorter and less intrusive, and that a security and "media plan" needed to be worked out for the trial. There was also a defense motion to prevent the wearing of badges and insignia in the courtroom or around the courthouse, such as the bracelet that a group called the OneLove Foundation hands out. Chapman did not object.

Hogshire also suggested that there be a "media liaison" to supply information to the press, an idea that Chapman said that he would be "happy to have nothing to do with." 

Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana launched into a critique of sorts on the current state of the media, claiming that the coverage on this case was "unparalleled" and that the existence of blogs, blog commenters, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms created a "super-charged environment" of information that was often inaccurate, inflammatory, cynical, and hateful.

Indeed, if you commented on a Huguely/Love story on the Hook or Cville Weekly's websites, there's a good chance those comments are in a stack of "internet" documents Quagliana handed the court.

"Everybody is plugged in," said Quagliana, as if this were breaking news. "If you Google George Huguely on the Internet, it's extraordinary the amount of stories you'll find."

Quagliana suggested that potential jurors could suffer personal scrutiny, and could be influenced by the barrage of 24-hour coverage, both the national kind and the local chatter.

However, while hoping to limit the amount of media information absorbed by jurors, Quagliana asked the court to require potential jurors to supply more information about themselves via a questionnaire.

"We want this to determine if particular jurors have been exposed to the media," said Quagliana.

Finally, she asked that the selected jury be sequestered during the trial.

"Precedent is heavy against you on this," said Hogshire.

"Yes, I realize that," said Quagliana.

"So you want to deny them contact with their friends, their family," said Hogshire. "Their TVs, their phones, their computers..."

"Respectfully, if that's what it takes," said Quagliana. "We need to protect the sanctity of this process. This is not reality TV, this is court."

Neither Quagliana, Lawrence, Chapman, or family members stopped to speak with the members of the press gathered outside the courthouse, and they refused to answer questions as they pushed their way past reporters and TV camera men. 

The next hearing is scheduled for Friday, November 18 at 4pm, at which time the make-up of the questionnaire and the 'media plan' will be argued.


First off Hook, spell the punks name correctly......I "can handle the truth".

Perhaps Ms. Quagliana should of thought of her predicament with the media before she took on such a case. Then again, the Huguely family may have made it well worth her while.If she is good enough and her client is indeed innocent, then the media exposure up to this point will have no impact on the juries findings (State of California vs. Orenthal J. Simposon).

Adderall and ADHD- Really Ms. Quagliana? Going to claim that Adderall caused her heart to stop? Is that why there "was very little blood" at the scene? Perhaps it is all over the lacrosse jersey he was wearing.

Put Mr. Huguely on the stand Ms. Quagliana, he is sure to be able to explain what happened better than you, to the satisfaction of a jury.

Have just read the DP story where a defense medical witness is arguing that it was cardiac arrest rather than blunt trauma to the head that caused Love's death. Doesn't it seem possible that blunt trauma to the head might have caused cardiac problems? Or should we believe that Love would possibly have died peacefully in her sleep that night if not attacked?
Is the defense just desperate, grasping at anything that could possibly help their client, or are they so lacking in scruples that they will try anything that might get him off?
When I think that this person who committed a brutal murder like this may get off, I get nostalgic for the days of the Old West necktie party where there were no slick,highly-paid defense lawyers around.
Yes, everyone is entitled to counsel, but why don't they just accept that he did it, and suggest he offer a guilty plea and throw himself on the mercy of the court? Not that he showed Ms Love any mercy that night in her apartment.

It's all about "reasonable doubt." If you've been on a jury before you know that introducing alternate scenarios for "what really happened" is about asking the jury to look at the situation in a different light. In this case, you can't look away from the violence that ended this young woman's life.

'...the coverage on this case was "unparalleled" and that the existence of blogs, blog commenters, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms created a "super-charged environment" of information that was often inaccurate, inflammatory, cynical, and hateful.'

Since the caveman days people have always talked and the only difference now is that there are more ways of conveying the information. That is hardly a "super-charged environment" but simply today's reality.

As far as the information being 'inaccurate, inflammatory, cynical, and hateful' one would have to wonder why an attorney would spend so much time on the information instead of building a defense for their client?

One fact that is not 'inaccurate, inflammatory, cynical, and hateful' is that a young woman is no longer alive and all roads lead to the accused. You can't blame Al Gore's Internet for that!

However if a "'super-charged environment' of information that was often inaccurate, inflammatory, cynical, and hateful." were to result in acquittal you'd deposit the check anyway. Right?

At least Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins, who is former law partners with Fran Lawrence and Quagliana, is no longer involved with judicial decisions on this case.

If I were planning to do a thorough job of reporting this story, I would dig into the backroom connections, wheelings & dealings as much as I would report on the murder trial of little George Huguely and the senseless murder of Ms. Love.

You might find additional crimes being committed behind the scenes, as it were. Just do a complete job, Hook.

What happened to a jury of your peers? Hugely's are in prison. Oh, I'm sorry, innocent until proven guilty. They give me a questionnaire I'll tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. I'm will not be the one on trial for murder.

If the jury in the trial of Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor, did not need to be sequestered, and was able to arrive at a reasonable verdict after careful deliberation despite the intense public interest and media scrutiny that surrounded it, I expect that Charlottesville can manage to see justice done in this case without taking extraordinary measures.

The picture caption "Hugely defense attorneys ......push past the press after today's hearing." Should read instead "Hugely defense attorneys....ooze past the muck rakers after today's hearing." Much more descriptive don't you all think?

It won't bring Ms. Love back to ruin this young man's and his family's lives. He knows what he did was wrong. Let's try to put this behind us as Virginians and move on.

This young man has done a pretty good job of ruining his own life. Of course he knows what he did was wrong. I'm not so sure he knows that actions have consequences, however.

Cvillain, I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that we "put this behind us as Virginians and move on".

Virginians demand justice in this case and shall not move on until that is delivered unto the perpetrator of this heinous deed. If that person is determined to be George Huguely, let God have mercy on him, not the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Really, Cvillain? I'm pretty sure this young man ruined his own life with this act of violence. It is HIS fault, and no one else's.

Just a question here, but why don't they ask for a change of venue if they think this case is so highly charged?

Huguely should have gone to see Judge Lynch within 10 minutes after he was caught.