WOODSTOCK – A judge in Shenandoah County Circuit Court told the commonwealth it had to be specific with counsel representing a man accused of committing a hate crime in 2017.
A grand jury indicted Jonathan Judy, 45, in December 2018 for an alleged assault in 2017. The case was dismissed by the commonwealth on July 9 but brought back after a grand jury indicted Judy on the same charge and added a hate crime charge as well as a result of evidence the commonwealth found.
At the time, the commonwealth told the court it had learned about a phone conversation recorded by Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail that contained statements Judy made that caused them to bring a hate crime charge.
On Wednesday, Judy’s attorney asked Judge Kevin C. Black to disallow the evidence on the phone calls because the commonwealth had misled the court as to when they had the evidence and failed to provide it in an adequate amount of time. The court ordered discovery, including the phone calls, to be handed over on Aug. 7, Judy’s attorney said. But he didn’t receive the recordings until Aug. 21.
If the commonwealth was relying on the recordings to bring the hate crime charge, he argued, then the recordings should have been ready to hand over on Aug. 7.
After receiving the recordings, Judy’s attorney said he was overwhelmed with hours of recordings that may or may not be relevant to the case. Citing state rules of evidence, he asked the court to disallow the evidence because “relevant” statements the commonwealth was relying on weren’t provided to him.
Bryan Layton, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said it was not the commonwealth’s job to describe precisely what evidence it was planning to use at trial. He said that the evidence was handed over and if they had given any less then the commonwealth would be accused of not providing enough evidence.
Judy’s attorney kept returning to the argument that the commonwealth had not provided him with the evidence per the court’s order.
Judge Black said that the argument wasn’t correct. The commonwealth did provide the evidence required but it had not given any direction as to where on the recordings Judy’s statements were.
The rules, Black said, require the commonwealth to provide relevant statements to the defense, not “spoon-feed” evidence.
After a lengthy discussion, Black determined the commonwealth will be allowed to use the recorded phone calls as evidence but had to provide specific statements they will rely on. Black said the commonwealth would not expect the judge and jury to listen to hours of recordings for the relevant statements so it should not expect the defense to do the same.
Black gave the commonwealth until Feb. 24 to provide the statements, continuing the scheduled trial from Feb. 24-25 to July 20-21.