Herring Runs Again for AG (not for Gov).

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In something of a surprise announcement, Attorney General Mark Herring said today he will not run for governor in 2017. Instead, he will run for re-election to his current post.

Mark’s been a breath, no, a tank-full, of fresh air after the ideologically obsessed abuser of office ahead of him, Ken Cuccinelli. Instead of threatening the health of women, depriving Virginians of equality, and misusing his office to persecute scholars he doesn’t agree with, Mark has taken the Commonwealth back in the direction of liberty for all, and common sense use of the power of his office. His work in favor of equality had fearful members of a fading class and generation calling for his impeachment. Mark has been able to ignore those calls, on the simple, valid logic that his oath to uphold the United States constitution overrides his oath to uphold the state’s constitution, when the two come into conflict. He stood by that oath, and Virginia is a better, more loving state today than it was before, as a result. One shudders in imagining what our legacy as a state would be if Cuccinelli, or another like him, had been in Mark’s place at that time.

Mark Herring will be a great governor of Virginia, as will Ralph Northam. If allowing him to serve another four years as a great Attorney General is what we have to do in the meantime, it will all be worth the wait.

AG Herring Reports for Jury Duty

Herring_mainThe Times-Mirror is reporting that Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, was summoned to court to serve on a jury, and did report for duty this morning. Mark, who still calls Leesburg his home, was on time at 8:00 am. The Virginian-Pilot reports he was asked some typical questions, then told he was not selected to serve.

Interestingly, the story reports that Mark’s office issued a statement including this:

When asked why he didn’t try to make some calls to get out of it, he said he takes pride in performing his civic duties, and wants others to do the same.

That’s a slightly unfair way to describe the AG’s decision. Despite what many think, you can’t just “make some calls” to avoid jury duty, even if you’re the AG. However, you also don’t need to make some calls. All you need to do is be on the list of exempt persons, which is set forth in the Code of Virginia, ยง8.01-341. Paragraph 5 is pretty clear:

5. Licensed practicing attorneys

No practicing lawyer (which obviously includes the Attorney General) needs to ask for favors or otherwise be clever to avoid jury duty. Rather, to serve, they must waive their right to be exempt.

Some years ago, I remember receiving a questionnaire addressed to me as a candidate for jury duty. My recollection is that I checked a box indicating that I was a practicing lawyer. I’ve never been summoned since. Maybe the form allows one to check the box as an option (I really don’t remember). If so, kudos to Mark Herring for being willing to serve (even if, truth be told, it’s unlikely that any attorney would want the state’s top lawyer to be on their jury).

NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with the process, the fact that AG Herring was summoned to serve, then told he was not selected to serve, may seem like a contradiction. The summons directs you to report to court, where you become a member of the jury “pool.” Then, you wait to be told if a trial needs more candidates for a specific jury. If all trials for that day are filled before you get the call, that means you have not been selected, and they let you go. If you are ever summoned, bring something to read. You can be in that pool for a while.

 

NV Drops Defense of Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban

The governor and attorney general of Nevada have today announced that they will no longer defend their state’s constitutional prohibition on gay marriage. The AP story buries the reason, but it is found in an oblique reference to another case in the same (Ninth) federal circuit that only recently decided gays could not be excluded from jury service on the basis of their sexual orientation. Nevada’s top lawyer thinks this kills their defense because, until now, only race and gender were wholly barred as reasons why a person could be excluded from jury duty. Apparently, the new ruling means that gays, minorities, and women all share the same status as protected classes under the Equal Protection clause of the federal constitution. This is the argument Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring made when he previously said he would not defend Virginia’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Herring’s opponents say he is derelict in his duty. No doubt, some in Nevada will say the same thing about their own AG. Regardless, it appears the end is near for bans on gay marriage, and that Mark Herring isn’t the only state attorney general who can read the writing on the wall (or on the constitution).