When I read Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman’s attack on Ron Speakman’s proposal on illegal immigration, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Is this guy just a political hack who will say anything to support his preferred candidates, or is he really this incompetent? Perhaps this is part of the reason Loudoun County has had such a persistent problem with illegal immigration and a skyrocketing violent crime rate, as the guy in charge of prosecuting crime in Loudoun County is seriously underwhelming.
Ron Speakman’s plan is a very innovative way to leverage the discretion afforded to judges in Virginia and remove illegal aliens who commit minor crimes before they graduate to more serious crimes. Judges have the option of doing a “nolle prosse” (meaning prosecution of a crime is deferred) in exchange for an agreement with the defendant, and if the defendant breaks his promise, the charges can be reinstated and prosecuted. Speakman has offered that the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office could ensure that an illegal alien returns to their country of origin to make sure this whole idea works. In the context of how awful the federal government is at doing their job, this is an intriguing idea.
Plowman offers three “reasons” why this plan won’t work and I think they’re worth looking at in detail.
First, he proposes that an immigration status determination should occur for all those properly arrested. This already occurs. It is required under Virginia law for criminals entering the jail to have their citizenship determined (Virginia Code §53.1-218). If found to be illegal, they are referred to ICE Agents for deportation. Those not channeled through the jail are identified in the courts, and referred to ICE trained Deputies, under a system that I put into place.
Plowman demonstrates his utter lack of understanding about what the Secure Communities Program and the Section 287(g) Program actually are, and I find that utterly shocking. Incompetence in this regard is utterly unacceptable. Both of these programs “prioritize” removals based on the seriousness of the crime and the resources currently available, and both of these programs regularly refuse to place detainers on illegal aliens suspected of committing minor crimes and violations. As a result they get let free when ICE doesn’t want them. Instead of letting those illegal aliens that ICE doesn’t want to bother with go free, we can have them return to their home country under the threat of being prosecuted and jailed for the crime they committed. It’s a far better result for the taxpayers.
Second, he proposes a theory of voluntary deportation. For this to have effect, there must be teeth to the threat of a lengthy incarceration. The crimes for which his proposal would apply, carry little possibility of that. As such, no criminal defense attorney would ever recommend the option. More importantly, if the offender’s offer to submit to voluntary deportation was accepted, the failure of our federal government to secure our borders gives us no assurance they will not return to the United States within a few months. I’ve personally seen this happen many times.
If the feds aren’t going to even deport someone for minor crimes, just how does Plowman think we can threaten anybody with a “lengthy incarceration?” Debtor’s prison? So I suppose the answer here is to throw up our hands in resignation and do nothing, because the feds aren’t doing anything. Thanks for proposing precisely the policy approach that resulted in eleven million illegal aliens being encouraged to come to this country unlawfully. What a great service to the residents of Loudoun County.
Finally, this proposal, at its core, is a breach of the separation of powers established in our Constitution. To assert that a Sheriff, or prosecutor, could dictate to a judge how to impose a sentence upon an individual is unrealistic, and a concerning reflection of Mr. Speakman’s understanding of our laws and the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth.
Plowman must be intentionally misrepresenting what this policy is that he’s criticizing rather than being this stupid, which is enormously disturbing for someone in the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney. There are actually implications here regarding the rules of professional conduct for attorneys, as they’re not supposed to be making public statements that they know, or at least if they have a lick of sense should know are not true.
In this whole diatribe there’s not one thing that makes any sense, and this undermines confidence in Plowman’s ability to act as Commonwealth’s Attorney and the legal profession in Loudoun County. You’d expect that if a Commonwealth’s Attorney was going to weigh in on a public policy discussion involving the law you’d end up with a well reasoned, extensively cited brief not some off-the-cuff ridiculous whining that non-lawyers like myself will look at and wonder what deli counter awarded this guy a law degree. This garbage demeans the office and the profession of law and should result in some pointed questions for Plowman to be answered with the Bar Association.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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