After considering for years whether to revise its criminal procedure rules to broaden defendants’ access to information that will be used to prosecute them, the Virginia Supreme Court has decided to expand defendants’ pre-trial access to prosecutors’ evidence. An order issued September 5 by the top state court will require state prosecutors (known locally as…

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On November 8, 2014, 19-year-old Dai’yaan Longmire was an inmate in Virginia’s Indian Creek Correctional Center in southern Chesapeake, placed in solitary confinement during the third year of a four-year term. He was serving time after pleading guilty to a total of five felonies and two misdemeanors. The charges included burglary, grand larceny, theft of…

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By Christopher Zoukis A sharply divided Virginia Supreme Court late last month reversed an executive order from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s restoring voting rights for about 206,000 ex-felons, saying the April 22 order exceeded his lawful authority under the state’s constitution. The 4-3 decision on July 22 upheld a challenge filed a month earlier by…

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By Christopher Zoukis There’s a storm brewing in the prison-industrial complex. It’s been simmering for decades, but a lawsuit was recently launched by inmates and families in Virginia against Global Tel*Link (GTL) sees it set to boil over, as inmates and their families have grown tired of paying the price for the wages of a…

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By Prison Legal News

Everyone in Virginia’s criminal justice system knew that Johnathan Christopher Montgomery was innocent of the crimes for which he’d been convicted.

His accuser had recanted her testimony and admitted she lied to police about being molested by Montgomery more than a dozen years earlier. And yet the state continued to deny him his freedom until an advocacy organization for the wrongly convicted petitioned for his release.

Finally, on November 20, 2012, more than four years after he was sent to prison for aggravated sexual battery and lesser charges – and two days before Thanksgiving –Montgomery was conditionally pardoned by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and walked out of the Greensville Correctional Center.

“The truth sets you free,” Montgomery told reporters outside the facility.

His accuser, Elizabeth Paige Coast, had told police that Montgomery sexually abused her in 2000 when she was 10 years old and he was 14 and lived across the street from Coast’s grandmother in Hampton. Coast invented the story, she reportedly told investigators, because she was embarrassed and panicked when her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites.

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