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Huguely appeals case, cites procedural errors

Former University student George Huguely’s new attorneys filed a motion Tuesday requesting a new trial through the Virginia Court of Appeals. Huguely, a former University lacrosse player, was convicted last year of the second-degree murder of girlfriend Yeardley Love. His legal team, Paul Clement and Craig Cooley, argued in their appeal that Huguely was given an unfair trial.

The appeal cites specific procedural errors that occurred during Huguely’s 2012 trial. Tuesday’s petition differs from the appeal filed by his attorneys in September, which sought to appeal his murder conviction.

“That 56-page legal document details the constitutional and procedural errors in the trial court proceedings,” Clement said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will grant the petition and consider George’s appeal on the merits.”

Clement and Cooley in the appeal outlined various errors committed by the circuit court. They argued Huguely was deprived of his right to a fair, impartial jury and contended that the court should have temporarily suspended the trial when Rhonda Quagliana, one of his attorneys, fell ill.

University Law Prof. Darryl Brown said such complaints aren’t unusual. “There was so much pre-trial publicity that it makes sense his lawyers would file that complaint,” he said.

The appeal also accuses the circuit court of failing to sequester the jury, which Brown explained meant a failure to isolate the jury from anything that could induce bias, such as access to newspapers. But Brown said it’s unlikely Huguely will be granted a new trial.

“The odds of him winning are pretty slim,” Brown said. “The trial judge was fairly careful and he spent time asking the jury questions. When a judge is that careful, the courts usually trust his decision.”

The Commonwealth has 30 days to respond to the appeal, after which the court will decide whether to grant the retrial. Huguely’s lawyers have petitioned twice before and were denied both times.

Huguely, 25, was charged with the murder of Yeardley Love in May 2010 and was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in February 2012. He is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence at Keen Mountain Correctional Center in southwestern Virginia.


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