Bomb Trial a Secret

Two months after an alleged school bomb plot was discovered by police, the trial is probably over and the kids have probably been found guilty or innocent of something. But nobody knows for sure, because the judge has placed a gag order on the proceedings, with Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos going so far as to threaten to track down the sources for reporters who print any details of the case, Liesel Nowak reports in today’s Daily Progress. It’s not known who is affected by the gag order, who requested it, or if we’ll ever find out if there really was a bomb plot. One local trial lawyer not involved with the case thinks she knows what’s going on:

“They sealed it because there is nothing. This is much ado about nothing,” lawyer Deborah C. Wyatt said. “It is my information that there is zero here other than talk. Nothing physical. No bombs, no explosive devices. Only e-mails.”

19 thoughts on “Bomb Trial a Secret”

  1. I’m happy to say, Mr. Camblos would likely fail in trying to detect leaks from the courthouse from any reporters. He would be asking for a reporter to disclose the contents of confidential information on a reporter’s notepad. This sort of case has gone in favor of the reporter time and time again, all over the country. Cowboy Camblos should review proceedings before threatening journalists with court action. And if Mr. Bowtie thinks he has the ground, file a motion to obtain the reporter’s notes. He’ll definitely lose.

  2. Since Colombine, the tendency has been to overreact to these incidents. I used to work for constitutional attorney in town, and he has handled hundreds of these “zero tolerance” cases over the years…kids suspended or arrested for drawing a picture of an army guy, having toy guns, or making some idle threat….the way the authorities in Charlottesville handled it has not been uncommon, along with the big press conference in the beginning and the closed proceedings in the end….the sad part is that people, particularly the kids, get abused in the process. Of course, no one wants a columbine to happen in their town, but perhaps a little more common sense needs to be brought into the process.

  3. I’m surprised we don’t already know the identity of these kids, as it is obviously not to their classmates who these kids are.

    If the outcome of the trial isn’t determined by more conventional means, I imagine if these kids come back to their schools and their friends any time soon, or if they disappear for a lengthy time, will give some clue as to the trial’s outcome.

  4. The perils of changing a sentence mid-sentence.

    That should read “as it is obvious to their classmates (and friends) who these kids are.”

  5. If there are facts in evidence, and these kids were convicted and sentanced. Then that evidence needs to be made public (minus the names of the kids).

    When individuals are scooped up off the street, charged with a crime, then prosecuted and convicted away from the public eyes. Well you’ll have to forgive me for saying that reminds me a little too much of how things are done in some of the countries we don’t like.

    In this instance I’m more inclined to believe that the information blackout from the court has less to do with protecting the identities of the minors, than with protecting the police and procecutors from bad P.R.

    Could I be wrong? Sure. But Show me the evidence and prove me wrong.

  6. Waldo— different circumstances with Judith Light, so different, it’s not even worth arguing in this blog. We know you’re not a journalist. You’re also not an attorney, correct?

  7. This whole fiasco does not seem like something which should happen in America and the fact that this is happening across the country is even more frightening. Speaking as a parent with a child who is a classmate of two of the boys arrested, I am outraged. First they make a huge deal with the press conference and of course the kids all quickly figured out who was missing. They told the community that they had everyone involved and then very publicly arrested another kid at the end of a school day- witnessed by an entire busload of students which caused huge fears among parents that other kids were at risk of being implicated. Not to mention the incredible damage to the families directly involved. And now they tell the community that it is none of anyone’s business if anything real was ever involved!!! I have not had so little respect for the authorities in my life! I fear I am too mad to write straight….

  8. Once again, this is the misguided leadership of a man YOU– Albemarle voters, continue to put in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

    No one knows who filed the motion to suppress information, BUT, James Camblos has done this before and it’s not surprising this is the outcome with the situation at-hand.

    You should have little respect for headless leaders who continue to screw up in office. There’s no accountability. Our only defense is for members of the media to continue to take these “leaders” to task.

    Take a hint from this very public fiasco, don’t put these people back into office.

  9. I gave this thing the benefit of the doubt for a long time, assuming that there was probably a real case in here and that the police and prosecutors had done the right thing. But at this point it’s pretty clear that this whole thing is BS and these kids are being held behind bars for no good reason.

    EVERY kid fantasizes at some point about blowing up the school. There were many occasions when I was in school when I witnessed or participated in conversations along the lines of ‘wouldn’t it be cool if somebody blew up the school and we didn’t have to go to class?’ This is completely normal. Neither I nor any of the kids I went to school with every literally intended to blow up a building. The only thing new is that part of these kids’ conversation was online and school adminstrators can read this and over-react like a bunch of paranoid nutcases. Kids hate school and wish it would just explode. This is news?

    There’s zero evidence that this constituted a serious plot. The police made a big deal about having seized ‘2 shotguns and explosive material’ from one of the boys’ homes. What did that really amount to? The kid’s father had a locked gunsafe containing his shotguns and some firecrackers. The kid had no access to this stuff. Hell, I’ve got a shotgun and a bunch of rifles at my house. Somewhere there’s a bag of M-80s and a box of sparklers in my basement. Having normal things like this in one’s home is no indication of real criminal intent.

    This is grade A bullshit. Jim Camblos is ruining these kids’ lives for no good reason. These appear to be normal, good kids who Jim Camblos is destroying by locking them up in a juvinile prison where they are living among violent criminals. They weren’t criminals before, but by the time they get out of jail they’ll either have been beaten to a pulp or have become part of that criminal culture in order to survive.

    Now you can talk all you want about how this is what the trial is intended to settle, but I’m arguing that there was never any evidence worth pressing charges over in the first place. And that holding these kids in prison rather than immediately releasing them to their parents’ custody is doing irreparable damage to their lives while running the risk of creating criminals where none were.

    I suppose that this is all supposed to make other students and their parents feel safer. But really it does just the opposite. The clear message being sent to every student is ‘we will screw you over and ruin your life on a whim.’ The danger to students isn’t normal BSing about hating school. The danger is being dragged away in handcuffs by an overzealous prosecutor and thrown behind bars for months or years. So long as Jim Camblos holds office, our kids are not safe in our public schools.

  10. I think it’s part of the record to discover WHO filed the motion to gag the proceedings. It’s an ancillary issue and should be available for press and public at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations clerk’s office.

  11. Actually, there is another reason we should worry about this on the safety front: way too much publicity if there should be any truly unstable kids out there. And next month is April.
    The 8th graders arrested, however, seem to fit the pattern Jack is talking about. I know a number of law abiding folks who have written similar things in pre cyberspace days.
    I am so sad for these families/kids. And with the gag order being so complete: I, as a parent, am completely without insight about how to keep my child safe from overzealous authorities. This has NOT been a “learning experience” in any positive sense. I have learned that the authorities will use humiliation and fear.
    It is not as if it is appropiate for parents to stand over their teenagers every minute!
    We should tell our kids we need to see every email?! I hope there is some accountability although I am not optimistic right now-

  12. Amen to what everyone is saying! Especially David McNair and TrvlnM. Sounds an awful lot what you have in a police state. But then this seems to be what we are becoming.
    Qui custodiet custodienes? who will guard the guardians? (My Latin may be a bit rusty as far as correct spelling).
    Waiting to hear the knock on my door.

  13. Waldo— different circumstances with Judith Light, so different, it’s not even worth arguing in this blog.

    I have no idea of who Judith Light is. But the case of Judith Miller was very clear: prosecutors’ need for facts in a criminal investigation trumps reporters’ need to maintain anonymity for their sources.

    TrvlnMn, your post is great. I can’t see that I could possibly have anything to add after that.

  14. This case isn’t about anonymity. Your comparison is apples vs. oranges. How about a little ground to stand on there, Waldo. O’Neill v. Oakgrove Construction Inc., Senear v. Daily Journal-American and Ammerman v. Hubbard Broadcasting have all quantified reporters privilege: shield laws; 49 states have a form of this protection.

    Camblos remarks thus far are out-of-line, bold and speculative. While he’s attempting to prosecute behind closed doors, he’s throwing up smoke screens.

  15. AO-OA!

    Judith Light is the star of the 1980s sit-com “Who’s the Boss?” Former NBC 29 reporter Joe Holden must be a huuuuge fan. He’s cvilletransplant. Just check out how he’s showing off all his knowledge from his journalism law class!

  16. O’Neill v. Oakgrove Construction Inc., Senear v. Daily Journal-American and Ammerman v. Hubbard Broadcasting have all quantified reporters privilege: shield laws; 49 states have a form of this protection.

    I really have no idea of what you’re talking about. The Judith Miller case is very clear: journalists cannot expect to protect their source if that source’s identity could be important to a prosecutor in an investigation. That set a new precedent that has left investigative journalists reeling. You’re citing cases that have been left in the dust by the rulings of Judge Hogan, the D.C. federal appeals court, and by the SCOTUS’ demurral. Also, only 31 states have shield laws. Eighteen others, including Virginia, have some sort of precedent that offers limited and often varying protection for journalists under certain circumstances. But after the ruling in Judith Miller’s case, this leaves it unclear in such states — including Virginia — as to exactly how much protection that journalists have.

    As I’ve said many times on this site, Jim Camblos is an incompetent buffoon. But that doesn’t change the fact that his threat is not without teeth.

  17. I just read my last comment, written last night, and I think that the tone comes across as all wrong. I didn’t mean the first sentence (“I really have no idea of what you’re talking about”) to indicate condescension but, rather, a legitimate confession that I don’t know anything about those court cases, but that they appear to have been cast into darkness by the long shadow Miller case.

    No snippiness, just two legally-inclined people exchanging our limited knowledge of law. :)

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