Plowman Sues For Release of Governor’s Felon List

Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman today filed a lawsuit against Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson seeking to get the list of convicted felons who had their voting rights reinstated by executive order in April.

The case is filed as a Freedom of Information Act petition for the records. Plowman, and other prosecutors around the state, have been requesting a list of the 206,000 names since May. The state government has refused to release the information claiming they were working papers and citing other disclosure exemptions.

Last month, Plowman filed an amicus brief as part of the constitutional challenge to McAuliffe’s action filed by state Republicans. In that filing, he documented individual cases in which voting rights may have been restored to felons who were still in prison or serving probation—individuals who would not qualify for the restoration of rights under criteria laid out in McAuliffe’s order.

The release of names is needed to allow the individuals to be more thoroughly vetted, Plowman argued. He specifically raised concerns of allowing the felons to serve on criminal juries.

The Virginia Supreme Court heard the Republican challenge Tuesday in Richmond and several justices, including Loudoun’s William C. Mims, cited the disclosure of the names as an important element in the effort to restore felons’ rights using the governor’s clemency powers.

“The governor’s failure to provide that public document may be the fulcrum on which standing turns,” Mims said during the hour-long hearing. “I, for one, do not understand how it is that a document of such importance can be shielded from the litigants and the citizens of Virginia.”

The Supreme Court made no ruling yesterday. No hearing date has been set for Plowman’s lawsuit.

One thought on “Plowman Sues For Release of Governor’s Felon List

  • 2016-07-20 at 10:43 pm

    Please tell me our Commonwealth Attorney is just grandstanding. Seriously, can any adult really be this dumb?

    1. Ok, any first year comp sci student gets asked the question: should you perform the complex algorithm on the data before or after you filter the pieces of data you really want? Any 18-yr-old will tell you that you filter the data first, so you only have to run the labor/processor intensive algorithm on a small number of records! But our clueless Comm Attorney plans to have his department run background checks on ALL 300 potential jurors even though only 14 will be seated! I have never seen such incompetence from a “professional” in all my life. Is this the kind of graduates that Virginia Tech and George Washington Law puts out? I sure hope not.

    But wait, what if some of the jurors lie about whether they committed a felony and they get put on a jury? That’s called a “two-for”. First, you remove them from the jury for lying. Second, you can likely prosecute them based on lying on the jury form. That penalizes a felon who is defrauding the court. But Jim Plowman is so unethical (oops I mean so incompetent), he can’t even refrain from using knowingly false (oops I mean foolish) reasons for demanding the list.

    2. Plowman has claimed that the Governor released the list to a political party in Prince William but would not release the names to the Commonwealth Attorney. This is laughable on its face. If released to an outside party, the CA could just FOIA that release. It would not be exempt. Plowman knows this is nonsense, he will just say anything and everything regardless of truth to further his political goals. Not so different than the Governor.

    I find it rather odd that Loudoun Now posts the petition on the day it’s filed but has yet to run a story about the civil rights complaint against Plowman for violating civil rights or the dressing down that federal judge Cacheris gave Plowman for claiming we could “trust” him not to violate free speech going forward. What a complete joke!

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