Jim Plowman, the Commonwealth Attorney for Loudoun County, has asked the Governor for the names of convicted felons who have registered to vote in Loudoun because he has concerns about them being selected for jury duty.
“It’s insulting to victims,” Plowman said, “especially in very sensitive cases, to have someone who has committed that crime sit in judgment of the person who has wronged you. I don’t think it’s fair for a child victim if I’ve got a sex offender sitting on the jury.”
According to the Governor 5,000 former felons have registered to vote since the Governor pardoned 206,000 of them on April 22nd. The Governor is refusing to give the Commonwealth Attorney the names of those felons who have registered to vote. Spokesmen for the Governor called Plowman’s request a “political ploy”. (As if the pardon of 206,000 felons in one fell swoop was anything other than a political ploy to help Hillary in November.) Once a felon has registered to vote he is eligible to sit on a jury.
Governor McAuliffe has refused to give Jim Plowman the names of felons, despite his freedom of Information Request, with the excuse that the information constitutes the Governor’s “working papers” and therefore excluded from FOIA requests.
From the Washington Post,
Plowman said he did not oppose restoration of rights to all felons, but he also noted that many of those restored by McAuliffe “have not paid their debt to society. Many have not paid their fines or often have not made restitution to victims.” He also said those on “unsupervised probation” still face possible prison time if they violate probation, yet also were restored by McAuliffe.
Plowman said he was not motivated by politics, and said he offered to keep the list for use by prosecutor’s offices only. He said he was not presuming bias by restored felons, but “certainly it’s a significant factor I’m going to consider” in jury selection. “I would assume there’s a greater chance that someone convicted of a major crime would be more sympathetic to someone on trial for a major crime, than someone who has not.” He noted that in the pending murder trial of Ashburn business owner Braulio Castillo, 300 potential jurors were summoned and his prosecutors did not have time to check the backgrounds of all of them.
In the meantime leaders in the General Assembly have filed a complaint with the Virginia Supreme Court to reverse McAuliffe’s action restoring voting rights to all 206,000 convicted felons in Virginia.