Why Jim Camblos Must Not Be Reelected

As promised, here is my attempt to convince you to vote for anybody other than Jim Camblos for commonwealth’s attorney. When I write about political races from my own partisan perspective, I try to stick to the basic issues, acknowledge that it’s simply my opinion, and recognize the merits of other candidates. This is not the case with Camblos.

There is no argument for returning Camblos to his office. A fifth term is far too many. My differences with him are not partisan, they’re not even political. He’s simply grossly incompetent and, I think, a bad man. What weighs especially heavily on my mind is the story of Edward Deane, the man whose wife and two granddaughters were killed in a terrible accident on 29 N. nine years ago, an accident in which the perpetrator was not given so much as a speeding ticket. Ed Deane is a long-time family friend. The abuse that he suffered at the hands of Jim Camblos at such a time is unconscionable. Camblos’ behavior towards Deane speaks volumes about his character.

Below I list seven stories of the lowlights of Camblos’ career, followed by five reasons why I want you to vote against Jim Camblos. Vote for nobody. Vote for Mickey Mouse. Vote for his opponent, Denise Lunsford. I don’t care who you vote for, but don’t vote for Jim Camblos.

Camblos’ Greatest Hits

Getting Away with Murder
On September 22, 1998, three friends robbed the Shell station on Ivy Road, murdering clerk Osama Hassan for $100.03. The murder was committed by a mentally retarded boy after being forced to do so by his friend Dylan Tyree. All three were charged with the man’s murder.

On May 8, 2001, Judge Paul Peatross was forced to drop all charges against Tyree. The state appeals court found that Jim Camblos’ had improperly handled the case, making much of the evidence inadmissible. No evidence, no conviction. The other two were convicted easily. Tyree remains free to this day.

Getting Away with Manslaughter
In June of 1998 there was a terrible car accident on Route 29. Louis Deane and her young granddaughters, Renee and Cheyanne, were killed when 19-year-old UVa student Sarah Roth lost control of her car. Roth skidded 503 feet before colliding with Deane’s car and knocking it clear across the grassy median. She pushed the car for another 196 feet before the family’s car landed upside down in the northbound lane and was hit by another car. (See the police accident reconstruction form for details.) Roth blamed the accident on an insect in the car.

Car Accident

Camblos announced two weeks later that Roth would not be charged with anything — she didn’t receive so much as a traffic ticket, to say nothing of an involuntary manslaughter charge. Camblos said it was because it was only an accident, not rising to the level of a crime, but it was just a month ago that he charged a truck driver with involuntary manslaughter for killing a couple in a similar accident, making clear that accidents are not immune from prosecution.

Camblos’ office has routinely described the insect in question as unnaturally huge, a freak of nature, but police photos of the scene (as printed in The Hook on September 27) reveal a tiny bug perhaps the size of a firefly. Camblos refuses to discuss the case. Crime Victims United of Virginia provides a moving videotaped interview with widower Edward Deane in which he recounts the terrible incident. Deane had, horrifyingly, come across the accident scene while driving home.

Roth received a speeding ticket while driving in the same spot just two weeks later.

According to an affidavit filed by police officer Karl Mansoor, Camblos developed an antagonistic view towards the widower Deane. Camblos instructed a police officer to shoot Deane. Other officers were instructed to follow Deane and, if he attempted to leave flowers to the site of his family’s death, find a reason to arrest him. Camblos has recently taken to claiming that Deane had threatened his family and was actually arrested for doing so but, in fact, no such threat was ever documented and no such arrest was ever made.

Getting Away with Manslaughter…Again
In April 2002, McIntire School of Commerce Associate Dean Michael Atchison fell asleep at the wheel, ran a stoplight, and struck the car of 29 year old Yu Ching Yeh at 55 MPH. Unlike in the Deane case, Camblos brought charges against Atchison, charging him with involuntary manslaughter. The trial ended as soon as it began once it emerged that Camblos simply hadn’t gotten around to subpoenaing a key witness. The case had to be dropped, and Atchison could not legally be retried.

The Strange Story of Deputy Shiflett
Then there’s the bizarre 2003-4 story of Deputy Stephen Shifett. He claimed to have been up and shot by a black man, and proceeded to arrest two suspects that fit his description. As it turned out, he’d probably shot himself, for reasons that remain a mystery. In the process, though, a manhunt was launched and Sheriff Ed Robb declared the attack to be a “hate crime.” When the truth came out, Camblos refused to charge Deputy Shiflett with anything, preventing any sort of an investigation from going forward. Camblos said that he simply couldn’t file charges unless Shiflett confessed, and that there was nothing he could do.

Camblos got called on his shenanigans by the Progress, who found that he’d never previously had a problem filing charges against people who’d filed false police reports but didn’t confess. In response, Camblos claimed that he’d been investigating it all along. The Progress, dubious, filed a FOIA request for the investigative report, but it was denied. So then Judge Peatross had to intervene after Camblos continued to do nothing, ordering the investigation’s files to be opened to attorneys involved in the case. Camblos was successful in blocking the investigation — no charges were ever filed, and it never emerged what had happened.

Road Rage
Edward and Angela Bourne were driving home to Buckingham County on Route 29 in June of 2005 when they found their car surrounded by six speeding vehicles. The cars forced them off the road, and Angela Bourne was attacked. Her husband defended her, only to be bludgeoned. She tried to help him, but another man restrained her. Eventually their attackers left them, and the couple had to be hospitalized for their injuries. Camblos refused to press charges. The reason, he said, was because the attackers were from Maryland, and extradition requires a felony. Camblos didn’t believe that forcing the Bournes’ car off the road and taking turns beating them qualified as anything more serious than a misdemeanor, apparently figuring that none of the occupants of those six cars would ever cross into Virginia again. The Bournes were angry and confused, and Edward Bourne expressed particular anger with Jim Camblos.

Smoke Bombers
In February of 2006, four students were arrested on charges of planning a violent attack on a pair of area high schools. A triumphant press conference was held, announcing that many deaths had been avoided. It quickly emerged that the students had been planning no such thing. In response to criticism from the press, Jim Camblos announced that there was a gag order on the media, telling them that they were prohibited from discussing the case at all, under “court order.” Again, it quickly emerged that he’d completely made that up. By mid-summer, Camblos was being universally condemned for his handling of the case. After the youngest of the kids was found not guilty (he didn’t even know two of the kids with whom he was charged with conspiring), Camblos refused to admit any fault, saying “we were disappointed with the decision, but the system works,” a study in contradiction.

Joining the Thin Blue Line
Police officer Karl Mansoor filed an affidavit with area elected officials when Jim Camblos nominated himself for a judgeship last year, in which he related the following alarming account. On September 19, 1998, an Albemarle County police officer accidentally shot at a man by the unfortunate name of Luckey Cash. The officer confessed to coworkers that he was at fault. Camblos recommended that the officer be charged with reckless use of a firearm. Chief Miller was concerned that this could look bad, so he asked Camblos to reconsider. Camblos, in response, instructed the investigating detectives to start their investigation over again. The detectives were told to “be careful” about what evidence appeared in the report, and that they should not mention Camblos’ prior recommendation. This time the detectives concluded that the officer was not at fault. On the witness stand, the officer said he was defending the life of a fellow officer. Camblos never brought charges against the officer.

Five Reasons to Vote Against Jim Camblos

  1. Camblos is utterly incompetent. See the prior seven stories.
  2. Camblos is a gun-grabber. Camblos wants to ban the discharge of firearms within 200 yards of any houseincluding your own — anywhere in Albemarle County. He told the board that he’s simply shocked that no such law already exists. The proposal resulted from the “Bentivar cat-killer case,” in which a man shot his neighbor’s cat. Since shooting your neighbor’s cat is already illegal — as is discharging a firearm within a reasonable 50 feet of a house or road — it’s not clear what good this new law would do. I don’t care what laws are passed — I’ll use my firearms on my property, and there’s not a damned thing Jim Camblos can do about it.
  3. Camblos is a bully. If you think I’m a self-important buffoon, you’ve never met Jim Camblos. (I once attended a community meeting of north downtown residents that he completely took over, loudly and repeatedly insisting that we were all too ignorant to have any input at all into the future of north downtown.) He is constitutionally incapable of admitting fault, no matter how clearly he’s at fault for literally letting somebody get away with murder. The man is a black hole of empathy. He threatens those with whom he disagrees and bullies whomever he must to get his way. It’s hard to think of a worse person to work with crime victims.
  4. Sixteen years isn’t enough? Camblos has been in office for a whopping four terms, and he wants yet another one — two decades, in total. That’s an enormous amount of time to spend in office, especially for a constitutional office, doubly so for something as demanding as commonwealth’s attorney.
  5. I’m screwed if he’s reelected. Seriously. If I have to go before a judge in Albemarle County in the next four years, I’m toast. If he’ll charge random middle schoolers with conspiracy to blow up schools, I wouldn’t need but a parking ticket to find myself tossed in a suicide watch cell and charged with treason. Of course, that may be a reason for some of you to to vote for him.

If you withhold your vote from Jim Camblos, you’ve just taken away one vote from him. If you vote for Denise Lunsford, you’ve just taken away two from him. Do the math, cast your vote, and let’s see Jim Camblos removed from office.

36 thoughts on “Why Jim Camblos Must Not Be Reelected”

  1. Thank you Waldo for truly putting your opinion up here to give people the opportunity to learn more before casting their vote tomorrow. Your knowledge of the situation and your belief in your position are both admirable.

    I would like to believe that most people take the time to research the candidates and make informed decisions when they go to the polls on Election Day. As hard as it is for me to accept, I know that is not the way it really is.

    My vote will go to Denise Lunsford because I have heard from people inside the system that they are ready for a change. There also quite a few stories clarifying that you wouldn’t want to work for Camblos if you are a woman. That means a lot to me since I don’t deal with that nonsense in my job and I don’t think anyone should have to.

    Fingers crossed,

    ps – I do have to mention that I have seen three different Jim Camblos television ads. That is some serious desperation and some very serious cash outlay from the good old boys.

  2. #5 is quite interesting, Waldo! And I would have to say quite true as well.

    Looks like Debbie Wyatt is getting her payback now for representing the Gray family in the successful wrongful police shooting death. The police of course ruled it a justified homocide by cops. And Camblos of course ruled it a justified homocide by cops. The jury sure took a different view on it though. I think the entire law enforcement community has been waiting a long time to stick a knife in her back because she was never afraid to take on lying, crooked and corrput cops.

    And I hate to see what happens to Mathias and Mansoor, as former police officers, now that they have gone on record and spilled the beans on Camblos.

  3. Over the course of my career as an Albemarle County Police Officer, I witnessed many actions by Jim Camblos that were significantly disturbing and that were matters of serious public concern.

    My sincere hope is that registered voters in Albemarle County will realize the critical nature of the Commonwealth’s Attorney race and go out and exercise their right and duty to vote.

    This is not a political issue with me. This is a matter of public safety. I strongly encourage all of you to vote tomorrow, without delay, for Denise Lunsford.

  4. I’m voting for Denise Lunsford because I think she will do a terrific job. I really can not think of a single reason for anyone to vote for Jim Camblos. My entire family will be voting against Jim Camblos as will everyone I know. We can not have one set of laws for some people and another set of laws for everybody else. This is 2007, not 1907.

  5. Waldo, many thanks for this very concise rundown on Camblos’ shameful, and unfortunately lengthy, career as CA. The facts are painful to read, but couldn’t possibly begin to match the pain felt by Mr Deane and Camblos’ other victims.

    We can’t bring Mr Deane’s wife and granddaughters back. But if there’s any justice in this world, after tomorrow, the Deane family will no longer be forced to see the face of that smirking jackass put forth as the public symbol of “justice” in Albemarle County.

    This county is filled with good decent folks. We need to take care of some business at the polls tomorrow.

  6. Waldo, many thanks for this very concise rundown on Camblos’ shameful, and unfortunately lengthy, career as CA. The facts are painful to read, but couldn’t possibly begin to match the pain felt by Mr Deane and Camblos’ other victims.

    My apologies for when I moved from reciting the facts into editorializing or drawing conclusions that require supposition. It’s awfully difficult to spend a couple of hours researching and writing up all that without getting hot under the collar. I did my best to suppress those urges, but it slipped through a few times.

    I want to emphasize, to the greatest extent that readers can trust me (and I hope that’s a long way), that this has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship. There are a great many elected Republicans with whom I disagree whose work has an enormous impact on my life (Ken Boyd, David Wyant, Sen. Emmett Hanger and Del. Watkins Abbitt all spring to mind readily). If I simply wanted to attack Republicans for partisanship’s sake, believe me, I’d start with them. I have no interaction with the criminal court system. Whether Camblos remains in office has no direct impact on my life. (Though, after being one of his more vocal opponents in the past year, it could well make my life uncomfortable for the next four years.) I would like to see Ken Boyd replaced by Marcia Joseph because we have different visions about how the county should grow — intelligent minds can (and do) disagree on the topic. I want to see Camblos out of office because I believe he consistently and deliberately acts in the best interests of a tiny minority — his friends and allies — and against the best interests of the community. I think he does this knowingly and brazenly. And I just can’t sit by and watch somebody do that, I don’t care what party they’re a member of.

    My favorite thing about Denise Lunsford: I think she’d prosecute me if I had it coming to me. I expect she’d apologize, tell me she appreciated my support when she was running, etc., but I figure I’d be charged just the same. Now that’s the sort of treatment worth contributing $100 to. ;)

  7. My favorite things about Denise Lunsford:
    1. She met with me in her office after I emailed her with a question even though I am not able to contribute money and she spent time talking to me.

    2. After talking to her, I realized if she was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney and I were to be the unlucky victim of a crime, I would probably press charges, something I have never been able to imagine doing with Jim Camblos in office.

    So vote for Denise Lunsford so no one gets away with a crime against me :).

  8. “My apologies for when I moved from reciting the facts into editorializing or drawing conclusions that require supposition.”

    No apologies are necessary. Caring is a good thing. Vanquishing bullies is an even better thing. ;) Seriously, you deserve kudos for putting this story out there.

    Partisanship is a label thrown around too much sometimes. I’m a democrat and a liberal, but I’ve been busting on Brown and Hamilton recently. I’ve even sometimes voted for Republicans. My loyalties run to decent hard-working individuals, not to parties. Lunsford’s running as a Dem, Kleeman’s running as an Independent. Those are just labels.

    My fingers will be crossed as I run, not walk, to the polls tomorrow.

  9. Unfortunately, I don’t live in/near Charlottesville anymore, but I like to keep up on what’s going on and I think this blog provides a good barometer of local current events, as well as a chance for folks to make a salient point or two about them.

    Regarding Camplos, I lived in the City so he never really popped up on my radar screen, but I would agree that those example cases show bias and malfeasance. Maybe sometimes when someone has been in power long enough they lose their perspective. I hope he gets the door and a new person takes over. As for Waldo, it takes a lot of pluck to take on the status quo. Good for you!

    P.S.- On the slim chance that he survives, don’t worry about the parking tickets. We’ll form a legal defense fund for you.

  10. This is misconduct by Camblos is disturbing, but even a bigger problem is that Chief Miller is either in on everything or just happily following along. Miller has been in his office too long as well and probably should be removed as well. However, since he isn’t elected we will have to wait until he wants to retire. I think this is the exact reason so many people were against the formation of the police dept. in the 80’s. With the Sheriff’s office you have the choice of changing the Sheriff every 4 years. You don’t have that with the current set up w/the PD. I don’t mean to change the focus of this thread.

    I did vote Lunsford today.

  11. Being a City resident, I can’t vote in that election, but I agree with everything you say.
    Camblos is what would have been referred to in the good old days of the 60s as a Pig.

  12. What exactly is his constituency, anyway? People who live in caves? Every single Democrat or Republican that I have had a conversation with about Camblos in the last few years despises him.

  13. Part of his constituency right now is animal lovers. A lot of animal lovers fell in love with him for prosecuting the Bentivar cat-killing used-foreign-auto guy.

    I like cats too, but I’m not voting for Camblos.

  14. FWIW, I’ve heard some far nastier things about Camblos in the past few days, but I didn’t write about any of them here. Not only can I not document them with sufficient reliability, but it’s just not cricket to lob such attacks eighteen hours before the polls open. Everything here is documented, with the information coming from public sources of data that are linked to whenever possible. (News stories from the late ’90s, for instance, aren’t linkable — I found them via Lexis Nexis.)

    Anyhow, the point is just that anybody inclined to read this list and think it unfair should consider that all of this information has been in the public realm, generally very very much in the public realm, often for many years. I truly wish I could have posted this a couple of days ago — I think its impact would be greater — but I just didn’t have the time.

  15. Met Camblos today at the polls. What an ass. No sense of humor. If I hadn’t already voted, I would have hit the Denise Lunsford button extra hard.

    This is the fun thing about local races. In a federal election, you might get 30 seconds and a handshake from the candidate. I initially supported Larry, Denise and Debbie because I thought they were the most qualified people for their respective jobs, and obviously so. While that opinion has only intensified between the early days of summer, I proudly cast my vote for them because I know them. I’ve worked side by side with them, I’ve spent considerable time with them, and I know them to be hard working, incredibly competent and altogether outstanding people.

    May they all win tonight!

    If you haven’t voted yet, vote!

  16. It was a pleasure to vote for Denise Lunsford this morning.
    Waldo, thank you for all your efforts to expose the truth about Camblos. Please watch your back, even if Lunsford wins, in the interval before she takes office. And if Camblos somehow wins(surely not??), please have a plan to protect yourself in case he does find a way to get to you- today’s DP headlines make it clear just how scary this person really is.
    I would like to remind your readers that vengeance played a role in the “smoke bomb” case because one of the boys accused in that case had previously won a free-speech case against the county.

  17. Gail and all, the only way to stop living in a climate of fear is to speak out, if we restrict our speech out of fear of someone, the terrorists/oops/bullies have already won.

  18. Alison,
    You are absolutely right and if I did not have a family to consider, I might be more outspoken in my own name. So until I become braver(and my last kid grows up and leaves town), I really appreciate what Waldo does. The “smoke bomb” case scared the heck out of me and many other parents also.
    I am just suggesting that Waldo should have a plan to get the word out in the community if he should get a “parking ticket”.

  19. Voted for Lunsford this afternoon with great satisfaction.

    Having Terms Limits (two terms) is a great idea for elected officials and high-ranking bureaucrats. If Chief Miller needs to go, so does Bob Tucker.

  20. Rest assured, Waldo, next year, when you are doing ten years hard time, on a trumped up charge, I will tell everybody I know, during each year of your incarceration, you were railroaded by a vindictive prosecutor.

    Seriously, with regard to Jackson Landers` comment, the thing I hate most about politics, is when a character as Camblos is reelected because some voters hew to the party slate regardless of the quality of the candidates. This holds true in any and all elections at every level.

    Consider the recent remark by the Cville mayor to the effect “I will vote for the democratic candidate no matter who it is”.

    I view his rhetoric as irrational.

  21. If Chief Miller needs to go, so does Bob Tucker?

    I won’t hold my breath waiting to see if anybody argues that point!

  22. My wife and I voted for Denise Lunsford this afternoon. I had some interesting discussion with the Democratic and Republican people outside the school about Camblos.

    This is the first time I have ever voted for a Democrat in my life. From the reaction of the Republicans outside the school I believe there were others who did the same thing.

    What is the fastest way online to follow the results?

  23. This is a good day indeed! Thanks Waldo for all that you have done to raise this matter to our community. I did not feel safe here knowing that such a man could use the power of government to destroy innocent people.

    I am glad that a 2 party system still exists in the county that allows for these kinds of voter actions.

  24. I think that many Albemarle County residents have voted thoughtfully today, including many who usually prefer to vote Republican but saw the need to retire Mr. Camblos.
    And Waldo, thanks again for really sticking your neck out.

  25. Congratulations Waldo (on Reason #5). Looks like you can rest easy on retaining your U.S. citizenship. Hope I never get on your bad side. Now go celebrate!

  26. Sometimes it takes a child to put things in perspective for you. As my 10 year old was getting ready for school this morning he said “Mommy you don’t have be mad at him (Camblos) anymore, he is not the boss anymore and I am sure that the new lady (Lunsford) won’t treat people the way he treated you”. Well he’s right, I’m not mad anymore…….it has taken 9 years, 4 months and 26 days but I’m not mad anymore.


  27. I’m so happy to see that Camblos is outta there! I recently moved out of Albemarle (and Virginia) but the handful of interactions I’ve had with Jim Camblos were all way too many. What a pompous ass.

    I’m a Republican to the core, but Camblos did no good for our party, our state, and our county. Good riddance!

    I hope that Denise remembers the values of all of Albemarle County as she serves. Good luck to all.

  28. Thank goodness Camblos is gone. I still miss
    my dear old friend Lois Deane and a good
    Sunday morning breakfast at her table.
    Election day being her birthday…how’s
    that for iriony.

  29. Congrats, Waldo. And well done educating folks on Camblos and his judgment deficiency. I’d bet I’m not the only one who wouldn’t have the story if not for you.

  30. Very nicely written and concise history of Camblos’ missteps. I’ve heard all those stories before as they occurred, but it takes seeing them all together to put his bias and incompetence in perspective. I like to think that we’re all better off having a prosecutor one would liken to a ‘pit-bull’ going after criminal offenders, and I don’t think Denise Lunsford is that, but I’m glad to see her given the chance to prove she can do the job rather than see Camblos remain.
    Congrats, Denise, and you too Waldo.

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