Bomb Case Gag Debate, Conviction

In today’s Daily Progress, Liesel Nowak outlines the legal debate over the bomb trial gag order, describing the case as starting with a bang and ending with a whimper. But the debate may be irrelevant—both The Hook and The Richmond Times-Dispatch are reporting this evening that there is, in fact, no gag order. That’s how we now know that the 15-year-old in the case has been found guilty of two counts of conspiracy, and will be sentenced in two weeks.

Hawes Spencer writes:

“There’s no gag order,” says a deputy clerk in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, after allegedly conferring with Susan L. Whitlock, judge in the high-profile case. The deputy clerk declined to give her name, and the similarly reluctant clerk of the court, Alice Price Waddy, confirmed the facts for a reporter.

Carlos Santos reports having the same experience—the clerk wouldn’t name herself, and wouldn’t provide any documents about the case.

14 thoughts on “Bomb Case Gag Debate, Conviction”

  1. I’d still like to know what the evidence was that convicted these children. It all seems kinda shady to me.

  2. ‘Ends with a whimper?’ Sending a couple of innocent kids to prison is hardly a ‘whimper.’

  3. Jack and Gail,
    Did you guys sit on the jury in this case? I’ve read all the news stories, but don’t have enough information to say if these young people were guilty of anything or not. (Like TrvlnMn, I be interested to see the evidence). Do you have information I haven’t seen, or are you just jumping to conclusions?

  4. Are they being sent to prison? It’s not clear to me from the news coverage that either of the convicted kids is going to do prison time, or even juvenile detention time…sentencing is coming up for each of them, no?

  5. Urbanitas, Here’s my take on this- the authorities have had no problem making a huge deal about seizing evidence which has been, in the local media, discredited. The shotguns, kitchen matches and firecracers were taken from a LOCKED gun case and belonged to the parents in that household. Now, assuming these reports are accurate, that weapons seizure was smoke with no fire.
    So, why on earth would they keep secret about other actual physical evidence? Actually, why will they not give a fuller picture of the online activity?
    How are those of us who are parents supposed to teach our kids what to avoid when talking with their friends online??
    The police used the word “serious” to justify arresting 13 year olds at school. They humiliated these kids and frightened other students.
    Maybe I am jumping to conclusions but I do not think I’m jumping very high-

  6. There was no jury in this case, tried by a judge.
    Yes, the court said they were guilty. But there is a difference between being convicted and being guilty. Travesties and miscarriages of justice have occurred before.
    Exactly what are the details and the evidence-physical evidence -of this horrible plot that was averted? Will we be told?
    Cannot help but draw a parallel. GWB and Co tell us that legally-questionable measures are necessary to prevent another 9/11. Police and school officials seem to say that drastic, repressive measures are necessary to prevent another Columbine. If it takes a Cyber-Gestapo spying on, so be it. This whole thing has smacked of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, not the Anglo-American tradition of justice. Where in the hell is the ACLU? except for people on here, have heard little protest from the Left. Oh, I forgot, they hate anything to do with guns whether based on fact or not.

  7. Could we consider for a moment the possibility that the police et. al. really DID think drastic measures were necessary to prevent another Columbine? That though they may have been wrong and hasty, that their intentions were good? I only write this because as soon as one invokes the Nazis and the Soviets, one leaves the impression of deliberate evil, of using “protect the kids” as a pretext for tyranny for its own sake. I personally doubt that anyone involved in the prosecution of this case was thinking “ha ha ha, we’re successfully repressing the people under the guise of stopping another Columbine!” Instead, I think that they were thinking “shoot, could this be another Columbine? hmm…better safe than sorry.”

    Now, I KNOW that “better safe than sorry” is little solace to the families of kids who may have been overzealously prosecuted, and I do NOT propose that we let this whole episode slide because perhaps intentions were good. But I do caution against any suggestion that the Man got Power-Hungry and pursued this purely in the spirit of trampling the People.

    One last point: can we DROP the bit about how the Left hates “anything to do with guns”? that is so tired. I don’t know any lefties who seek the abolition of guns. i do know a lot of lefties who think we as a nation are pretty lax when it comes to keeping track of who has a gun (you know, like whether or not insane people, people with criminal records, people in a fit of rage with their partner) and of making sure that people use guns responsibly (like we try to make sure that people use cars responsibly). But I think it’s really a Republican/NRA-inspired straw man to say that everyone on the left hates anything to do with guns. Personally, I couldn’t care less about hunters having guns. I couldn’t care less about homeowners buying a gun for protection.

  8. To compare this situtation to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia shows an extreme ignorance of history and a blatant disregard for any measure or rational thought. That’s where I withdraw.

  9. As a mother of two at AHS and one at JJMS, I have been watching this case as closely as I can given the dearth of information available.

    ….no problem making a huge deal about seizing evidence which has been, in the local media, discredited. The shotguns, kitchen matches and firecracers were taken from a LOCKED gun case and belonged to the parents in that household. Now, assuming these reports are accurate, that weapons seizure was smoke with no fire.

    I believe that the information given above was obtained from the father of the 15 year old. Now, he may well be correct, but it seems to me that it is in his best interest to make it appear that the police over reacted.

    The bottom line is we still do not have accurate information about what actually was (or was not) threatened by these kids, seized as evidence, or happened in the closed trial. I have seen people who say there must be compelling evidence against the students since the authorities are not giving us information, and have also seen folks quoted as saying the authorities must have really screwed up in arresting these boys, and they don’t want the public to know about it.

    I ache for these families, but I also am thankful that a possible blood bath was averted. We can all jump to our own conclusions, but until we are given accurate infomation it is all a guessing game, and until the information is provided, how can we criticize the police, County DA, the kids, the schools or GWB and Co. for what did or did not happen?

    I do think it is time to let the public know what the hell is going on, no names (as if we all don’t know them already), just the facts.

  10. No one wants a bloodbath. I am very concerned about the impact the front page press could have on school safety.
    It is true that it is in the father of the 15 yr old’s best interest to make it seem like the police overreacted but if he is not lying, which would not be his son’s best interest, then I still think the police were misleading in giving undue weight to the seized weapons in their initial press conference.
    I completely agree that accurate information is much needed about this story. In a free society, we must be able to criticize authority if there is to be any accountability.
    As a parent of a current middle school child, I want to be able to help my child learn how to behave on the internet because while it is unrealistic (and would be very odd) that I can stand over his shoulder all the time when he uses a computer, I know that he still listens to me. It is not enough for the police and schools to tell parents that we must be “aware” of what our children are doing on the internet.
    And I ache for these families too- they have been damaged forever.

  11. The comparison to Nazi Germany, etc was not to be taken literally but meant as a warning as to how easily a society can slide into repression and dictatorship when government starts justifying everything it does under “security.”
    What has perplexed and upset me is the secrecy, the vagueness, the refusal to specify actually what these kids were doing that constituted illegality.
    Lets look at history. Wouldnt be the first time the government has arrested people merely on what they were saying, for inflammatory rhetoric, and the catchall term ” conspiracy.” There was the suppression of the Wobblies and other dissenters in the World War I era. And how about Cointelpro, the Chicago 7, the Black Panthers, and all the rest from the 60s?
    And we have also seen what happens when the government decides to take action against people for what they “might” do.
    The incarceration of Japanese- Americans in the 1940s(and there are those who would have gladly done that to Arab-Americans and Muslims after 9/11.
    Fact is , people can be dangerous when they are made to feel threatened. They become paranoid and start believing that there are (fill in the blank-Communists, terrorists, school bombers under every bed. And when public officials feed this fear, innocent people are apt to be caught up in it and come to harm. A fine example of this is the black man who gets stopped by police merely because he is driving or walking through a white neighborhood-this stereotype of the black-man-as-criminal that has been perpetuated.
    And more to the point, we do have a precedent for the “dangerous youth” construct. Remember the inveighing against “J.D.s ” in the 50s? Kids with ducktail haircuts and motorcycle jackets were automatically criminals. And there are plenty of us who remember the harassment and persecution directed at “longhairs” in the 60s. Goth and punk kids on the Downtown Mall have had problems in recent years, not just for things they did , but for how they looked and just for existing, as it were. Don’t know if what if any group these Albemarle kids fit into, but if they were non-conformists in any way they could have become a target. “Step out of line and the Man comes and takes uyou away” in the words of a Stephen Stills song, written after clashes between hippie kids, police, and businesses on LA’s Sunset Strip in 1966.
    It goes beyond this particular case. There are issues of due process, the right to confront an accusor( did the tipster in this case have to testify in court), and of what constitutes protected expresion on the Internet. Always hearing ‘don’t believe everything you read on the Internet’- that might be a good policy for those who want to turn every blog’s fantasies into reality and start arresting people. People do need to be careful what they post , under these circumstances. My own feeling, to quote Dylan, is “if my thought dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.”
    After all remember,in the words of a bumpersticker, “Of course you can trust the government. Ask any Indian.”

  12. Anyone catch this item in today’s C-ville news? “Dispatches from the Department of Inadvertant Bad Taste”
    Liesel Nowak, in this morning’s Daily Progress, commenting on developments in the case against four local teens who allegedly plotted to bomb two county high schools: “THE CASE STARTED WITH A BANG and it’s ending with a whimper.” She doesn’t mean that the way it sounds, right?

    In case you didn’t know, Kathy Harding, the case began with a “bang,” as in a big media splash, but thankfully no explosion. And it ended with a total information lockdown, with the press not even being allowed to see a shred of the so called “evidence”. I’d call that a whimper.

    Had there actually been an explosion, “bang” would certainly have been in bad taste and I doubt it would have been used. But since the only bang was a bunch of tough-on-school-violence peacocking, I’d say it’s a well-played, yet subtle (maybe too subtle for you) use of irony.

    And speaking of cliches, “Dispatches from the department of …” is about as stale as Harding’s Lucinda Williams impersonation.

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