Spotlight in McDonnell Trial Shifts to Judge Spencer

Judge James Spencer

Judge James Spencer

Hmmm…. It turns out that Judge James Spencer, the judge who presided over the trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell, is married to Judge Margaret P. Spencer — whom McDonnell voted against in 1997 when she was nominated in an unsuccessful bid for appointment to the Virginia Supreme Court. Republican/ conservative bloggers are wondering if Mr. Spencer’s overwhelmingly consistent rulings against McDonnell on points of law and his framing of jury instructions reflect personal animus on his part. At the very least, they are asking, did the judge have a conflict of interest?

I don’t know enough to say one way or another. I’d like to know more about that 1997 vote. If McDonnell had been prominently involved in defeating Ms. Spencer’s Supreme Court judgeship, the conflict-of-interest idea might have merit. If he was but one of fifty or so members of the House of Delegates who voted against her in a party-line vote, it’s more difficult to imagine that Mr. Spencer bore a grudge.

What’s also interesting is that in the wall-to-wall coverage of the trial — including the judge’s rejection of the McDonnell defense team’s numerous legal gambits — none of the media took note of this potential conflict. The issue came to light only when raised yesterday by Will Houp at WAVY TV. (His story here contains some details of the 1997 nominating controversy.)

It’s also worth asking why the story surfaced now, just a month before McDonnell’s sentencing. Did Houp just pick up scuttlebutt in the legal community? Or did McDonnell’s defense team leak this information to apply pressure on Spencer to stop leaning so hard against McDonnell?

— JAB

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10 responses to “Spotlight in McDonnell Trial Shifts to Judge Spencer

  1. how about looking at the rest of the Judge’s record before essentially impugning him with right-wing conspiracy theories?

    My understanding was/is that he’s pretty much a straight arrow – do you have knowledge otherwise or do you just repeat any old right-wing blather for effect?

    Did McDonnell’s defense team ask him to recuse himself?

    I’m calling this a wacko bird Hail Mary pass at this point. Is there any credible evidence what-so-ever besides right-wing mania?

    • Larry, I did not endorse the “right wing conspiracy theories. ” I merely brought them to the attention of Bacon’s Rebellion reader in order to raise two main questions (which you totally ignore):

      (1) Why hadn’t the media ever taken note of this before?
      (2) Does the timing of this story suggest a gambit of the McDonnell defense team to apply pressure on the judge.

      The post was only four paragraphs long. Go back and read it. Please tell me how I “impugned” the judge.

      • re: “the media” – Jim – do you included the right-wing media in your blame?

        re: applying pressure??

        at this point? are you kidding?

        this comes across as a cowardly back-door hail-mary where-as EARLY in the trial it would have been a legitimate issues – and WHERE – once again was McDonnell’s defense team and the “media” that might have been sympatheti to McDonnell?

        what is this coming to light -NOW?

        bringing this up now – based on hypotheticals.. is seen as an attempt to discredit the judge – do you REALLY think at this point – any good effect will come from this?

        what this is – is a post-conviction narrative from the right – that a pissed-off left wing judge had it in for McDonnell who was a victim…

        right?

        scurrilous but expected.

    • “impugning him with right-wing conspiracy theories?”

      lol @ larry, again. Can you quote JAB’s piece where he did that? How about, “I don’t know enough to say one way or another.” Holy Crap Bacon how biased of you ! lololol
      One thing is consistent on this web site, a couple of posters will always, but always, turn every response into an anti-right wing-tea party-neo con extravaganza, imaginary as it is, even when that response has nothing to do with the article. Maybe some meds dosages need to be increased.

      • re” ” lol @ larry, again. Can you quote JAB’s piece where he did that? How about, “I don’t know enough to say one way or another.” Holy Crap Bacon how biased of you ! lololol”

        how about you go check the blog he referenced and then I can provide you with some more right-leaning blogs – all .. discussing the same narrative..???

        “One thing is consistent on this web site, a couple of posters will always, but always, turn every response into an anti-right wing-tea party-neo con extravaganza, imaginary as it is, even when that response has nothing to do with the article. Maybe some meds dosages need to be increased.”

        well maybe you should be more well read on the right wing blogs, eh?

        I DO follow their narratives – the echo chamber if you will and I recognize it when Bacon repeats it here – as he actually said he was doing.

        there is a distinct pattern sometimes to what is emanating from the “right” and when I see it – I call it..

        and for the sake of Conservatism – I’m far more Conservative on fiscal issues than many here who claim to be “conservative” when, in fact, what they are is “right wing” – they don’t mind spending wads of money on THEIR causes…just not others they disagree with philosophically.

        In my book – a true “conservative” is not just right on some issues – they are consistently conservative on money issues and if they are socially moderate then they are golden in my book.

        happy to fill you in guy.. I have more if you need more.

  2. how many folks were on McDonnell’s defense team ? 20+ ?

  3. Pingback: Does Judge Spencer Have An Axe To Grind Against Bob McDonnell? (Answer: Yes) | Bearing Drift

  4. Judge Spencer was appointed by Ronald Reagan. I must say that the defend-McDonnell machine is really getting to the bottom of the barrel.

    • if they were truly serious about this -the 20-some lawyers with help from Republican sympathizers would have filed a motion early on.

      At this point – what they are really doing is setting up a false narrative that claims that McDonnell was set up and victimized by “leftists”.

      this is how the right works these days.. they construct their own realities so they don’t have to confront the actual realities with respect to who and what the McDonnells really are.

      If the McDonnells had an ounce of sense and and one less ounce of arrogance and disdain for the law – and ethics – both of them – McDonnell a lawyer and AG would have easily known and recognized what NOT to do that would put at risk his entire career.

      It’s pitiful and pathetic that the right now has to construct some kind of excuse for why the McDonnells could not do simple, common-sense things to stay out of ethics trouble so now we have to blame it on a “leftist” judge.

      I truly feel sorry for the McDonnells – but no more than some poor black kid that the police pick up for petty street drugs and ruin his life and leave his wife a single parent with a child trying to get through life.

      The McDonnells had it made. They had a life like no poor black kid could every aspire to be – except perhaps Doug Wilder… and they blew it – plain and simple.. and now we have to put up with “the leftist judge did it” idiocy after the ” the prosecutor had it in for him” narrative..

      crooks are funny – it’s always someone elses fault why they could not obey the law.

      grump!

  5. When you will lose on the facts argue the law. When you will lose on the law argue the facts. When you have neither the facts or the law blame the media.

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