Appeal granted: Huguely gets hearing on possible trial errors

Three years ago, lacrosse players George W. Huguely V and Yeardley Love were getting ready to graduate from the University of Virginia. That plan changed early May 3, 2010, when Love was found facedown in a pool of blood on her pillow in her 14th Street apartment. Now, on the anniversary of her death, Huguely sits in Keen Mountain Correctional Center serving a 23-year sentence for second-degree murder and waiting to see if an appeals panel will grant him a new trial.


A judge in the Court of Appeals in Virginia last week granted part of Huguely's petition on the grounds that his right to counsel was violated when his attorney, Rhonda Quagliana, became ill during the February 2011 trial and Judge Edward Hogshire "forc[ed] him to proceed with trial in the absence of his retained counsel of choice," according to the appeals court decision.


The filing also noted that the Charlottesville Circuit Court judge erred by refusing to strike a juror whose answers "revealed serious doubts about her impartiality."

That's the good news for Huguely. The bad news is that the appeals court review denied the majority of his claims of court error, including that the evidence was insufficient to support a second-degree murder conviction, and that the jury was improperly instructed on the definition of malice.

The judge noted an email Huguely sent two days before Love's death in which he said, "I should have killed you."

"The record has ample evidence of [Huguely's] malice toward Love," wrote the unnamed judge, who also points to an earlier February 2010 incident in which Huguely held Love with his arm around her neck, and his kicking in the door to her bedroom. "The injuries alone speak to the brutal force appellant used and demonstrate a purposeful willful, cruel series of intentional acts likely to cause great bodily harm," said the appeals court– enough to support a second-degree murder conviction.

The appeals judge also nixed arguments that Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman should have told Huguely that Love's mother was planning a civil action against him (and indeed, Sharon Love filed a $30-million suit against Huguely shortly after the murder trial), that the jury should have been sequestered, and that the defense should have been allowed to ask potential jurors "blame-the-victim" questions.

During his trial, Huguely was represented before by Quagliana and Fran Lawrence. For the appeal, he's hired a high-powered, out-of-town team: former United States solicitor general and appeals expert Paul Clement in Washington, along with Richmond lawyer Craig S. Cooley, who represented D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo in his capital murder case.

“We are delighted that the Court of Appeals granted our petition for appeal," said Clement in an April 26 statement. He said he was hopeful the appeals court will order a new trial, and "... [T]he Court of Appeals’ action underscores that there are serious issues about whether George received a fair trial that complied with his constitutional rights."

"In a case as significant as that, it's not surprising to me that the Court of Appeals would identify one or more issues to consider," said Commonwealth's Attorney Chapman, who prosecuted Huguely.

The attorney general's office will handle the appeal, and both sides have 14 days to challenge the decision.

"You can't attribute any significance on the granting of an appeal," says Hook legal expert David Heilberg. "The court may have granted it because those were the two most interesting points. In particular, the issue of denying counsel– I've never heard of that in Virginia."

Adds Heilberg, "Appellate courts in Virginia tend to uphold verdicts."

Correction 5/1: Huguely is serving a 23-year sentence, not 26 as the story originally said. A jury recommended a 26-year sentence, which the judge reduced to 23 years.

Read more on: George Huguely


Are you kidding me? he only got TWENTY SIX YEARS for killing an innocent girl. TWENTY SIX YEARS?? he should be relieved. i wish nothing but the worst for him and his family.

Be a real shame if his family exhausted their fortune pursuing fruitless appeal after appeal. *SARCASM*

If GH5 wasn't the scion of a wealthy family, there would be no appeal. This is going to be a very expensive appeal process. The hourly legal fees could top $500 an hour!

I don't currently practice law and my other habits are equally good. However, the lawyers I know in Cville have clearly mixed feelings about the validity of the two issues the Court has agreed to review. The question about the missing attorney is hard to understand. Some folks believe that Ms.Q wasn't ill at all and used the time to prep witnesses. Others feel that this was a tactical move to have grounds for an appeal The other attorney was these and some feel that GH5 had reasonable representation. The juror question is wildly subjective. Who knows what is in another person's mind?

All of this seems like a huge waste of State of Virginia time and money. As they say, "If you commit the crime, you do the time".

RIP Ms. Love

Actually Huguely was sentenced to 23 years, not 26 years, which is what the jury recommended. --Lisa Provence

Andrew Alston Stabbed a Crozet man to death. His hot shot lawyer team got him the real deal. Three and a half years for the taking of a human life. I would not be surprised if he came out of the appeals process with a lesser sentence.

To the person gasping at 26 years, the only alternative is death row and btw it's 23 yrs. Second, this case was 50/50 voluntary manslaughter or 2nd degree. The difference is 7 years, well worth the appeal no matter the price or who the parties are. Oh, and $500 an hour isn't that much for this kind of work so recovering atty. Kid should've gone outside of Charlottesville in the first place, attorneys rest on their laurels here a d are so good ole boy you can't get a tinge of aggression in your representation

So tell me, once GH left town, did any laws change? Did UVA protocol change? Did any of the candlelight vigils make a difference? The answer is no. It was a HOT topic for months as we all debated how a young girl ended up dead, but in the end the facts are that a young girl was murdered and nothing changed except GH's snail mail address.

UVA got out of this without one firing of administrative staff, without one change to protocol, without any accountability for the coach's actions - despite Ms Sullivan's reassurance that she was using her "mother's eyes and ears" - again.

Pam, we all know UVA is behind this. Watch him get a re-trial. Welcome to UVA land. Sullivan has proven herself to be totally ineffective if not in the tank since last June. Everyone thinks its because Georgie boy is from a rich family. It's not the case. He had a UVA id. It's all about UVA. Remember the Alston case where the guy walked. He stabbed the guy multiple times and supposedly that brilliant genius of a defense attorney (his wife works for UVA) was able to convince a jury (mostly UVA employees) that all the stabs were self inflicted and the commonwealth attorney (also UVA) and the Judge (also UVA) were all shocked by the verdict. Nicely concocted. It's just the people of Charlottesville have been dumbed down to buy these antics. It's truly a travesty that this one university is literally calling all the shots. By the time George is re-tried things will be old and cold. It will be manslaughter (he learned his lesson philosophy) and he'll be quietly let go for time served. Just wait and see. This is how it works in UVA/Cville land.
I'm quoting Securro's book where Judge Hogshire states "UVA is my homeland". Just think about that for a second. That's a Judge speaking!

The only good that might come of this is that Huguely's old man will run through more of his money and have less to spend on booze. Personally, if I heard that the son was offed in prison, I wouldn't cry myself to sleep. Justice would be served.


"Did UVA protocol change?" LOL

There's only one protocol/policy = COVER UP ANYTHING THAT MAKES UVA LOOK BAD.

Thugs in cheap suits.

Dear (another) Recovering attorney --If you were ever an attorney, surely it was not a trial attorney, even less a criminal defense attorney as your comments reveal you don't understand some basic concepts, like juror voir dire, with your "who knows what's in another person's mind" comment, and the comment about the missing lawyer. Sure, we don't know if Q was really sick or faking. But the court has to assume she, as an officer of the court, was telling the truth. In that case, because lawyers really do divide up their duties, the appeal point has legs. Would a surgical team with a cardiologist and brain surgeon (not sure such docs with such egos actually ever work together but assuming so) continue on if one had to leave? If the surgical staff had to leave? Of course not.

Disclaimer to all the Huguely foamers-at-the-mouth: this is in no way meant to diminish the horror of what this kid did or in any way to defend it.

UVA Untouchables. They may be untouchable but it would be very unlikely they would support this appeal. They want this case over, over, over and forgotten as quickly as possible. I'd bet the farm they aren't putting a penny towards it, nor helping in any way.

Sean's (UVA Untouchables) anti-UVA rant never changes. Well actually he did get much nastier towards Sullivan when he realized she wasn't going to end abortions at UVA like he had dreamed. Obvious no matter what name he posts under and gets kind of old.

If the combination of Adderrall and alcohol and/or caffeine had anything at all to do with Yeardley Love's death everything possible and necessary would be done to cover this up by multi billion dollar industry that owns most media conglomerates in the world and utilizes hit teams to defend their interests when threats don't work (which they usually do). Declare a mistrial for biasing the jury with physician testimony that since all of the Adderall heads on sports teams had normal heart rythms at their checkups there is no reason to think Yeardley Love's heart rythm could have been affected by Adderall either. Especially since all of the Adderall head atheletes came to their check ups after having a few rounds (sarcasm).

I think that George should have been convicted, and I am glad he is serving a lengthy sentence.

But, I was frustrated when Judge Hogshire refused a short continuance. It would have been so easy to have said okay to a continuance, and it would have avoided this appeal issue. The Court of Appeals is bound by the record (that is the transcript of the proceedings). That record shows that Ms. Quagliani told the court she was projectile vomiting and Mr. Lawrence said that Ms. Quagliani was the only one prepped to handle that portion of the trial, and that he (Mr. Lawrence) was not ready to do so. It doesn't matter whether or not either Ms. Q or Mr. L was telling the truth, the Court of Appeals is bound by the transcript. And so, if Ms. Q was in fact the only one ready to handle an issue and Mr. L was in fact not prepared to handle that issue, then the refusal to continue the trial for a day or two was a stupid thing for the judge to do. This particular judge likes to get things over with. If that was his goal, and the case is remanded, it will be ironic that the case is far from over. Hopefully, the Court of Appeals will determine that regardless of the lack of continuance, that there was substantial other evidence (that is, other than what Ms. Q was going to present) that established GH's guilt.

"You've got five minutes. I'm ready for lunch" Ted Hogshire, presiding over a malpractice suit, to a plaintiff representing himself. (No jury was granted despite the plaintiff's request)

"You are not to speak" Special Justice Raymond C. Clarke, presiding over an involuntary commitment hearing, to the very citizen whose mental capacity was to be judged (No jury trial was granted despite the citizen's request)

There is no justice in Charlottesville! Period. Well perhaps only if it doesn't involve the power brokers (mainly UVA).

@someone - don't forget he was a criminal defense attorney before he became a judge (LOL) and he taught at UVA. Chapman is also UVA soaked. Everything in Charlottesville points at UVA. It's not rocket science. NOTHING is at arms length from UVA.

ps. my name is not Sean

Hogshire made the comment not after a lengthy longwinded argument by the plaintiff, mind you. This was what he said before allowing the plaintiff to begin making arguments. Five minutes worth.

The defendant in the malpractice suit was a resident at UVA. The defendant's attorney was a graduate of UVA. The "you are not to speak" comment? Spoken to a patient at UVA hospital, after the patient attempted to cross examine the future defendant in the malpractice suit who was blatantly lying under oath and presenting numerous pieces of evidence of which the patient had not been informed at any time previous to the hearing, citing the patients views on water fluoridation and chelation therapy (among other ludicrous assertions) as evidence of paranoid schizophrenia. Special justice indeed.

In case you didn't guess the case was dismissed and the patient was involuntarily committed

Just to clarify -- @Someone -- you said earlier that the commitment proceeding you're describing was not in front of Hogshire but said by commissioner Ray Clark, who is not a "real" judge -- they often have lawyers "trained" to do commitment hearings. Bob Huff used to do them. But here it seems you've compressed/confused a commitment proceeding with a malpractice trial (two different proceedings, two different forums, two different "judges")

"Someone" is frequently confused. It was his own commitment hearing. Alex Jones worship seems to lead to symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, or vise-versa.

cvillereader2 - Who do you work for?

Not UVA in any way, if that's what you are seeking. Not that it should make a difference to what is rational versus irrational.

Are you serious, Cville reader? Do you actually believe I confused the two? I was there, both separate times. They both made their rulings and conducted their courts with authoritarian fashion and demeanor, without regard for the Constitution that binds them. They both made their rulings in Charlottesville. They both pertained to my experience with judges in this state and this very city. Another commenter brought up UVA and I thought I'd humour the argument by pointing out the UVA connections. At least I didn't mention Norman Moon's "I prefer express justice" comment.

Hogshire didn't even find it necessary to read the plaintiff's bill of particulars

Someone: hearings, trials, etc., are matters of public record. Such records are almost always online. Please link to the cases.

Thanks in advance.

Sorry. I'm not Mr. Belvedere.

"Hogshire didn't even find it necessary to read the plaintiff's bill of particulars"

In crayon?

A colorful attempt, but I don't see a rosy picture

@someone - I don't doubt a word you say. People in Cville live in a bubble if they think the system works as its supposed to.