Washington gets trial date, PD

Nathan Antonio Washington, the man accused of being the serial rapist, appeared via video feed in Charlottesville Circuit Court today to request a court-appointed lawyer.

Washington previously had been represented by Rhonda Quagliana, who will still represent him in a General District court hearing October 4.

An impatient-sounding Dave Chapman, commonweath's attorney for Charlottesville, told Judge Edward Hogshire, "We've wasted a month now.... We want to move these cases along." Washington was arrested August 13.

Hogshire told Washington he will assign a public defender, and he set a December 10-12 trial date for a November 2002 rape and vicious assault in the Willoughby subdivision.

Washington has been linked to a 1997 rape at a Comfort Inn in Waynesboro from DNA samples taken at his arrest.

Police previously have said the serial rapist was linked to seven attacks.


now that Beebe is free, perhaps his attorneys are interested in representing this man?

This is a travesty - a perfect example of the very serious flaws in Virginia's criminal justice system, and in the media's reporting of it (sorry Hook, you're in error here - she's not a PD, she's a court-appointed attorney, and there's a HUGE difference).

Rhonda Quagliana is not a Public Defender. Public Defenders are attorneys who work for not nearly enough money, but are salaried employees of the state. They specialize in criminal law, are typically overworked, and are almost always thoroughly dedicated to their clients.

According to the FindLaw directory, Ms Quagliana specializes in business and Commercial Law. With those bona fides, while I'm sure she's a fine attorney, she shouldn't be representing a rape suspect. It's not fair to him, and it's not fair to us.

Fair to him: The constitution guarantees effective counsel. As a person accused of a crime, he deserves somebody who can defend him adequately and appropriately. Especially for such a serious offense. The presumption of innocence demands this. You can be damn sure that the attorney who prosecutes knows criminal law inside and out. His attorney will get paid virtually nothing for this case, and while nobody should or will question her ethical devotion to doing her best effort, there's an inherent conflict when doing a huge case such as this one, and the temptation is to get your guy to cop a plea and get back to billable hours. Excellent article about this problem in Virginia here. An interesting excerpt:

ttorneys that defend clients facing more than 20 years in jail are capped at $1,186, said John Hart of Hart Law Offices in Harrisonburg.

Cases where defendants face less than 20 years are capped at $428, he said. Misdemeanor charges are capped at $112 in district court and $148 in circuit court.

So for $1,186 an attorney is going to effectively defend this guy?

Fair to us: Ineffective counsel can get a conviction overturned. We deserve to know that the guilty are guilty and are justly punished. Too often in Virginia, the guilty go free, or the innocent are punished.

Now I know there are plenty in these parts who would argue that they guy doesn't deserve a high-dollar lawyer, and maybe that's true. But let me ask you this: If you were charged with a rape you didn't do, would you hire an attorney who specializes in corporate law? If you couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, would you want the court to assign one who has no incentive to fight through trial to give you a chance?