Jury: 13 YO Smoke-Bomber Not Guilty

A jury has found not guilty the 13-year-old accused of conspiring to “blow up” AHS and WAHS. He was the youngest of the kids arrested in February, and had previously been found guilty in a closed trial. It became more obvious over the months that these were trumped-up charges, mere showboating on the part of Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos, and the jury clearly agrees. As Liesel Nowak explains in today’s Progress, it became clear over the course of the trial that this boy didn’t even know two of the other students with whom he was charged with conspiring. Along the way he had to spend two months in jail and was expelled from school. Private schools won’t even talk to him. Perhaps it’s time to get that expulsion rescinded, so he can get back to his life?

Lisa Provence also has a run-down of the trial in The Hook, and there’s coverage of the decision on their blog.

24 thoughts on “Jury: 13 YO Smoke-Bomber Not Guilty”

  1. Four young lives potentially ruined because of fear-mongering on the part of the police and Jim Camblos.

    I can think of at least two people who need not be re-elected.

  2. Camblows has been lame for years…this is just more Barney Fife policework from the county cops coupled with Camblos’ prosecutorial zeal. It’s time to get a new CA.

  3. So who can we get to run against Camblos whenever the next election is? Instead of hoping one will decide to run on his/her own after all this drama, maybe we cvillenews.com readers can encourage someone to take that next step. Any suggestions?

  4. It is about time that this case blew wide open. I hope lots of people were listening to Coy Bareffoot’s program this afternoon- is this available on a podcast? I just listened to the brief clip on CBS19. It is incredible that the prosecutor and police still say they handled the case well. I hope every one of the 3 families whose kids have been released have very successful lawsuits.

  5. I’ll ask Sean Tubbs if he can make a point of podcasting that — I didn’t get to hear it, and I imagine a lot of other people might like to give a listen.

  6. It’s great that an injustice has been averted for this young man. But the other teenager unfortunately wasn’t so lucky. Remember this was a conspiracy case. It takes 2 to conspire. This case blew away the government’s contention that there was a conspiracy. The teenager who was convicted (despite perhaps being a troubled boy) should never have been, nor did he appeal. His lawyer rolled over and played dead. And in the face of NO evidence of a real conspiracy. Just hype and puffing by Camblos and the police. That’s a tragedy as well.

  7. Thank God! And a smack-down for Camblos to boot. Are those other 2 kids also appealing their convictions? I certainly hope so. Jim Camblos has a lot to be ashamed of, putting an obviously innocent 13 year old kid in a jail cell for 2 months. You have to wonder how this guy can sleep at night.

  8. So who can we get to run against Camblos whenever the next election is? Instead of hoping one will decide to run on his/her own after all this drama, maybe we cvillenews.com readers can encourage someone to take that next step.

    In fact, I just sat down with a friend who is interested in running, a result of witnessing this debacle. I don’t know if he’ll do it or not — he’ll need time to decide — but he’d wipe the floor with Jim Camblos.

    The trouble is that the job pays so poorly that anybody who wants the gig has to be either incompetent or a mensch. Luckily, this fellow is the latter. We’ve tried the former. It’s not going well.

    Are those other 2 kids also appealing their convictions?

    Does anybody know the answer to this question? I certainly don’t.

  9. I don’t know what you mean by job pays poorly. That’s not my understanding. At least if $80K is poor pay.

  10. JLOR,

    Good lawyers make far, far more than that. I have a friend who just graduated from law school last year and she’s already making $200k a year. The pay is terrible if you want to get a competant lawyer in the job. It’s great if you want some random dude off the street who thinks $80k is a fortune.

  11. I have been listening to Coy Barefoot’s passionate call for a change in the law which allows minor children to be questioned without a lawyer even after a parent requests a lawyer. I have just emailed Rob Bell asking him to start to do something about this: delegaterobbell@aol.com

    Now, on the local level, does the BOS have the power to impose an investigation on the police department? If so, we need to send out a lot of emails/letters to let them know just how much people care about what has happened in this case.
    And Waldo, if you can find someone willing to take on Camblos, a true public servant (perhaps someone with personal wealth?), I think a lot of people will be cheering!

    Anyone else have any thoughts about how to change things for the better in the wake of this case??

    Barefoot also says that the AC School Board has revoked the expulsion for the kid found not guilty this week. In view of the implosion of the “conspiracy” charges, I hope that the other former Jouett student and the AHS student are also offerred readmittance.

  12. Get acquitals for the other students? Quite likely.
    Getting rid of Camblos? Not unprecedented in this area. Charlottesville CA Steve Deaton, a Democrat, got unseated by his own party, denied the nomination in the early 90s.
    Republican David Dickey ,Greene County CA unseated in 1983 election. So it has happened before around here. Camblos does need to go. Question is who is strong enough to unseat him.

  13. Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of fine, talented lawyers in Cville who make far less than $80K, albeit perhaps not in the big law firms. Most trial attorneys in this area are small-firm types, or solo practitioners. But, this really isn’t the point. Commonwealth’s Attorney is a political, elected position. Camblos, for whatever bizarre reason, is politically connected in the Republican party. Rumors are that he wants to be a judge here. Any court will do. And he may have the clout to get it, as scary as that is. So, you need more than a good lawyer to run against him. We need someone who’s willing to be a politician. Perhaps even someone who will use that paltry $80K/yr job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better. We can dream, anyway.

  14. There are plenty of fine, talented lawyers in Cville who make far less than $80K, albeit perhaps not in the big law firms.

    Surely you’ll agree that they’re choosing to doing so at a loss to what they could be making. For example, I know several attorneys who work for quite little at area non-profits, but they’re making a sacrifice for the greater good. You may be speaking of attorneys who, rather than work in the high-pressure environment of a large firm, choose to work 30 hours a week on routine stuff because it makes them happier. They’re choosing time over money, which is a fine decision. But, again, that’s a decision to make less than the potential.

    The same is true for Commonwealth’s Attorney — it’s a sacrifice, on the order of working with a non-profit, only with the drawback of the limelight. It requires somebody who wants to do the amount of work that would earn them big bucks in the private sector, but willing to do so in the name of the greater good.

    I think your assessment about a politician is probably correct. Somebody with political ambitions could easily justify four years at $80k/year, making it much less of a sacrifice but, as you say, a stepping stone.

  15. Camblos’ does want to be a judge and part of the reason is his Dad or grandfather all did this job in Albemarle and eventually went on to be Judge’s. So I’m betting he believes this is his birthright.

  16. Hmm…so I have a sibling who’s a recent lawyer – and a former Federal Clerk to boot. Based on their survey of the local firms, I too have to disagree with the ‘$80k is peanuts’ comment. There are some in Central VA who likely make $160-$240k a year – and goodness knows we’ve got quite the per-capita share of them, so there must be money – but I think you’re talking about full partners with some seniority. I also think a lot of our local lawyers aren’t doing local lawyering – they simply choose this as a nice place to live and base their operations – class action aggregators and litigators who operate nationally.

    What do they say about the third generation?

  17. Gosh, Waldo, there are a lot of attys in Cville wishing you were right! In fact, at most maybe 1 or 2 attys in Cville make “400 percent” of the CA’s $80,000. Precious few who make even 1.5x that. Do a survey and find out for yourself!–or check out salaries for big firms in richmond here: http://www.infirmation.com/shared/search/payscale-compare.tcl?city=Richmond&usps_abbrev=VA

    Second, the reason why no one challenges Camblos is not because of the salary (hey, I’ll take it!) but politics. I agree that Camblos is probably waiting for a judgeship. The CA job is an elective position for no good reason. Most of the work is done by the (non-elected) prosecutors under him. Camblos just takes the high-profile, newsworthy, sure-to-win cases. In fact, an effective CA is probably more like Dave Chapman—isn’t it interesting that everyone knows Camblos’ name, but hardly anyone knows Chapman’s…

  18. Perhaps you and I know different attorneys. :)

    I’m looking at that list, though, and I see that nearly every single surveyed firm pays people more immediately out of law school. Only Christian & Barton and Mays & Valentine pay less than $80k in the first year. The only firm for which salaries are provided for more than a couple of years is Reed Smith Hazel & Thomas, which is paying $125k after six years. And, of course, that’s base salary — the numbers increase nicely when looking at the “Potential Salary” listing.

    Why take a gig as Commonwealth’s Attorney when you can make more at just about any firm in your very first year? After four years at Reed Smith — the same as the Commonwealth’s Attorney term — you’d be making almost twice as much as you would as Commonwealth’s Attorney. A career attorney — that is, the kind of person sufficiently competent to become Commonwealth’s Attorney — would be giving up the level of salary they’d built up after a decade with a firm in exchange for a pittance.

    It takes a particular person to want to make that sort of a sacrifice.

  19. That’s my point—those are salaries at big lawfirms, NOT charlottesville lawfirms, and NOT criminal defense attorneys. Starting salaries at Cville lawfirms are a third to a quarter of Richmond firms, which are often branches of big-city firms, and they serve corporate clients, not regular old folks. Hey, I’m looking for a job now, NOT a a big law firm, and the salaries are pretty small.

    Being the CA for albemarle is NOT a sacrifice! You’re giving Camblos more credit than he deserves for foregoing some big salary…

  20. Being the CA for albemarle is NOT a sacrifice! You’re giving Camblos more credit than he deserves for foregoing some big salary…

    I want the kind of CA of a level of ability and talent that it would be a sacrifice. Camblos is decidedly not taking one for the team here; I suspect he’d be flipping burgers if he weren’t our commonwealth’s attorney.

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