McDonnells should have stood at the verdict

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To the Editor:

I was greatly surprised by an article, which I read in the Sunday, Sept. 7 edition of The Daily Press titled “Sitting during verdict not typical in courts,” which indicated that former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife remained in their seats when verdicts were handed down in their felony convictions last week.

At the end of 2008, I retired as an Adult Probation and Parole Officer. During the 38 years that I worked, I had the privilege of sitting in courtrooms observing several Circuit Court judges in numerous jurisdictions as they made decisions in all kinds of cases. In all those years, I do not distinctly remember any defendant ever being handed a verdict or sentence on a felony charge sitting down, unless they were in a wheelchair. I recall one judge giving his directive very politely, “Mr. Jones, will you please stand?” Another Judge was more direct and would give the order “Jones, stand up.” Surprisingly, according to the article, Mr. McDonnell and his wife remained seated when verdicts were pronounced. Apparently, the Judge did not give an order to stand. Even if Judge Spencer did not direct McDonnell and his wife to do so, they  should have stood up. McDonnell is a lawyer and a former Attorney General and he knows better. He should have shown the Court that much respect. And if he did not stand up on his own, his lawyer should have told him to do so.

Lud L. Spivey