Supreme Court Fight: Petitioners Accuse Norfolk Prosecutor of Allowing Criminals to Run Free
Photo credit: Norfolk City Government
Written by: Sam Orlando
A group of petitioners seeking to hold Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi accountable for creating a public nuisance has filed a Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition with the Virginia Supreme Court. The petitioners accuse Fatehi of failing to execute the basic ministerial duties required of his office, which has led to a city overrun with crime and violence.
The petitioners, Michael J. Muhammad, Arkeda D. Brehon, Cartina M. Wilson, Shandy S. Woodall, and Jessica R. Hairston, allege that Fatehi has created a public nuisance by repeatedly failing to adequately prepare for the prosecution of certain defendants in high-profile homicide cases. These failures, they argue, have led to the dismissal of charges and mistrials, and have allowed criminals to run free in the city of Norfolk.
One such case involved the widely publicized murder of Old Dominion University student Chris Cummings. The petitioners claim that Fatehi's office failed to adequately prepare for the prosecution of certain defendants in this case and failed to timely disclose Brady material, which led to a dismissal without prejudice against one defendant and a mistrial for another.
In another homicide case, Fatehi's office failed to secure witnesses, preventing the office from proceeding to trial. And in yet another case, Fatehi's office failed to secure and subpoena witnesses, which resulted in charges being dropped.
The petitioners also allege that Fatehi and his office have violated the "Crime Victim and Witness Right Act" by not keeping the victims and witnesses properly informed. Fatehi's failures, the petitioners claim, have led to a lack of justice for the victims of crime in the city of Norfolk.
In addition to these allegations, the petitioners question the motives behind Fatehi's $200,000 campaign contribution from George Soros. They argue that Fatehi has turned Norfolk into a "big experiment" and that the results of this experiment have been disastrous. "What's left is a trail of bodies and blood that flow directly from the streets of the city to the $200,000 George Soros contribution in Fatehi's pocket," said Michael J. Muhammad, one of the petitioners.
The petitioners believe that their case is an important one for the people of Norfolk, particularly for the Black community, which has been targeted by criminals and harassed by the police. "The people of Norfolk have had enough, and we just aren't going to take it anymore," said Muhammad. "We won't stop until change comes to Norfolk ... change that values the inherent worth of all people, not just people who agree with Mr. Fatehi."
Fatehi spoke about the petitioners with WTKR3 in Norfolk, and said ""I'm sorry they're unhappy, but it doesn't change the facts of the case. It doesn't change the law and it doesn't change the court process works. I don't tell people what they want to hear. I tell them what they need to know," said Fatehi. For the petitioners, what they say they are tired of hearing is "not guilty" or "case dismissed".
The petitioners hope that their Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition will be reviewed promptly by the Virginia Supreme Court, and that the court will direct the Norfolk Circuit Court to empanel a Special Grand Jury to investigate Fatehi's actions. They believe that Fatehi's incompetence and neglect of his duties as Commonwealth Attorney have created a public nuisance, and that the people of Norfolk deserve justice.