Wyatt indictment rocks election day
How does an embattled Commonwealth's Attorney show a pesky lawyer his outrage? For Jim Camblos, notorious in some circles as the prosecutor who waged war on four bombless student "bombers," the answer involves bringing in a special prosecutor and a bit of common law from the
Elizabethan Medieval era.
Debbie Wyatt is the lawyer who, in 1994, got the will of elderly eccentric Jack Manahan overturned, only to watch in stunned disbelief as a retired judge set aside the jury's verdict and let a 20-something woman (to whom Jack had been professing love and marriage) keep his farm and other properties. Wyatt is also the lawyer who sued UVA, once to show how President John Casteen and the school's head counsel, under pressure from D.C. lawyers, helped rig an Honor Trial to secure an acquittal, and more recently on behalf of an activist employee named Dena Bowers who used her University email to rouse the rabble.
In short, Wyatt takes unpopular cases. In a 2002 interview, she told the Hook that Virginia's justice system still favors good ole boys, including judges. But get her in front of a jury, and things happen.
Like that time just last year when, after internal and federal investigators said it was okay that a bullet entered the back of an allegedly berzerking man named Frederick Gray, Wyatt convinced an Albemarle jury to slap the Police Department with a $4.5-million verdict.
So now we come to the embracery charge. Supposedly, this is an archaic offense with its roots in the Magna Carta. Suffice to say that jury tampering is a bad thing. But there's a separate offense for jury tampering. Why embracery? Who's ever heard of embracery? And why was the indictment unsealed yesterday?
Today is election day– is this the day Jim Camblos really intended for this news to disseminate? Hard to say. Although the chief account of the indictment, a three-reportered article in this morning's Daily Progress contains some hefty details, including the fact that a national criminal lawyers group rebukes the action, the story says little about the timing beyond noting that the Virginia Bar is reviewing the case. Wyatt and her supporters, however, have been clear in branding this an election-eve smear.