Connie Stevens

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VEA & PTA “Put Kids First” Campaign

VEA PTAThe Virginia PTA and the Virginia Education Association have joined together to launch a new public awareness campaign called “Put Kids First.”

VEA President Meg Gruber pointed out that before the recent recession, Virginia ranked number one in the nation on the “chance of success” index for children, but that the state has now fallen to 9th place.  And in spite of rhetoric at the Capitol about “holding the line” on education cuts, state funding has actually dropped  16% since 2009,when inflation is taken into account. Gruber said the new campaign aims to help the public recognize the troubling signs:

Gruber said elected leaders claim to be “friends of education”… so parents, teachers, and the public must compel them to take action to reverse these trends. The organizations will hold a rally in support of public education at the State Capitol on April 18th.  More information can be found here.
Here’s the full audio of the news conference in Richmond:

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VA Could See Two-Term Governors

Sen. Dick Saslaw argues for the resolution.

Sen. Dick Saslaw argues for the resolution.

Virginia governors would be allowed to run for a second, consecutive term of office under a constitutional amendment that has passed the state Senate. The revision would change a tradition that has left Virginia as the sole state in the nation to forbid its governor from running for re-election. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the 24 to 15 vote for passage did not break down along party lines.

 

 

 

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All Lives Matter

All Lives MatterA coalition of Virginia civil rights and community organizations marched in downtown Richmond over the weekend.

In advance of the General Assembly meeting tomorrow, the march called for several legislative reforms including an independent review board to handle issues of police misconduct and the implementation of police body cameras.

While many in opposition to body cameras site both cost and privacy concerns, the majority of protestors believed the transparency of cameras would help rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement.  Intern Reporter James Perla was there.

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House Republicans Outline Education Agenda

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

Ahead of next week’s start of the Virginia General Assembly Session, GOP lawmakers are rolling out new initiatives in public education.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one reform is a revamped version of an unpopular law—which they say should be more useful to parents and stakeholders.  

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Bill Might Halt Handcuffs On School Kids

Dickie Bell

Delegate Bell spent the last ten years of his teaching career in Special Ed.

Last fall’s controversial handcuffing and shackling of a Greene County pre-schooler might have been prevented by a new bill that could soon make its way through the General Assembly. Hawes Spencer reports.

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Former Governor Sentenced: Two Years in Prison

Gov McDonnell by Anne MarieFormer Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison for corruption. He’s due to report to prison by February 9th.

The judge’s punishment was far below the 10 years prosecutors wanted, but still more than the community service that  the former governor and hundreds of supporters asked for.

Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, McDonnell said he was a fallen human being.

But McDonnell reiterates that he never betrayed his oath of office.  He says he disagrees with the jury’s verdict, and his attorneys have already begin the appeal process with the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

McDonnell’s wife Maureen faces sentencing February 20th, after being convicted on eight counts of corruption.

You can hear his complete comments to the media following the sentencing.

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Former Governor Awaits Sentencing

September 2014, Richmond, VA

September 2014, Richmond, VA

When he’s sentenced tomorrow will a former Virginia Governor get a slap on the wrist with community service or a short time in prison for 11 corruption convictions—or will U.S. District Judge James Spencer sentence him to a lengthy stint behind bars?

Tommie McNeil reports, one analyst says it’s probably the latter, and it will be interesting to see whether Bob McDonnell will remain free as he appeals his convictions.

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A Look Back at Governor McAuliffe’s Political Year

McAuliffeIt’s been almost a year since former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe took office as Virginia Governor, and many agree is that he’s hit the ground running. But while McAuliffe is proud of the work he’s accomplished thus far, some say he’s tripping over some obstacles-either of his own making or from a GOP-led legislature. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

 

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VA Lawmakers Hoping for a More Productive 2015

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers are bemoaning the meager work accomplished in Washington in 2014. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how some lawmakers fear 2015 may once again bring stiff budget cuts that would hurt the state’s economy.

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Buena Vista: A City in Trouble

Tee (800x600)The City of Buena Vista has a loan payment due on January 15, a payment it does not intend to make. What will happen after that is unknown at present but one possible result is that local government officials and the police department will receive eviction notices. Fred Echols reports on a financial crisis in this Blue Ridge city of  7,000 residents that’s been in the making for more than a decade.

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Gov. McAuliffe Vows to Stick to Gun Control Measures

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Despite criticism from gun-rights advocates and GOP legislative leaders, Governor McAuliffe is not retreating on a package of gun control measures that he has proposed for the upcoming General Assembly session.  And as Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor ays this was one of his campaign promises, so no one should be surprised.

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Decoding Political Jargon

Dog WhistlesPolitical junkies looking for a good read may find one in an exposé of insider political language by two veteran journalists. It’s called “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech.”   The light-hearted book also has a serious purpose.  Tommie McNeil reports.

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Bill of Rights for Taxi Drivers

Taxi Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

Recent reports about the growth of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft would suggest that their success pits them directly against traditional taxi drivers. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a representative from the taxi industry says that’s not what’s behind a rally in Richmond….where they called for more fairness for taxicab drivers.

 

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The Ethics of Redistricting

Co-Chair Bill Bolling speaks during the meetingA gubernatorial panel created to propose ethics reforms has recommended revisions to Virginia laws on redistricting, as well as an amendment to the state Constitution that would revise the way legislative districts are drawn.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Governor’s Commission to Ensure Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government left no doubt that it considers the current process to be overtly partisan and unfair.

 

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Rights Restoration for Ex-Offenders

RightsPraises, tears, accolades, and stories of lives renewed are par for the course in a church setting. But although the venue was a church in Richmond, the occasion was the long-awaited restoration of rights for three Virginians who are among the thousands who have— and will have—their rights restored by Governor McAuliffe. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains, although the process is still not automatic, the governor has made it simpler.

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Gov. Plans More Cuts for Virginia

Gov01Governor McAuliffe told the General Assembly’s money committees Wednesday that while they made great strides in closing the state’s budget shortfall, much more needs to be done to secure Virginia’s future. As Virginia Public Radio Tommie McNeil reports, it’s why he will continue to implement nearly 954 million dollars in spending cuts over the biennium and work to advance his vision for the upcoming session.

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Reducing Reliance on Federal Funds

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Governor McAuliffe says when he addresses lawmakers about the state’s budget this week, he intends to talk about his new economic development package. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, his initiative includes legislative proposals that the governor says are necessary to reduce the Commonwealth’s reliance on federal dollars.

 

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Consumer Alert!

Caveat Emptor02The Commonwealth’s Attorney General has some advice for Virginians who plan to do lots of holiday shopping—especially over the Internet and with a credit or debit card.  He says scammers love this time of year–and therefore, it’s up to you to be extra vigilant.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains how.

 

 

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UVA Students Continue Dialogue

rotunda-horizIn the wake of Rolling Stone renouncing its own story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, some students say that Jackie, the undergraduate at the center of the storm, has been abused– this time by the magazine. Hawes Spencer reports.

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New Scrutiny of VA’s Controversial Abortion Clinic Regulations

Abortion06It’s back to the drawing board for a slightly revamped State Board of Health, which now has new political appointees. The Board has decided to study and amend abortion clinic regulations that have only been in effect since last year. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the regulations’ defenders say the inspections have uncovered unsafe conditions, while abortion-rights advocates say the rules may force clinics to close.

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Former Sen. Webb Discusses Policies & Presidency

Jim Webb at AP Day 02Sticking to his promise not to discuss or attack any other potential 2016 presidential candidate, former Democratic U.S. Senator Jim Webb today [Wednesday] did discuss where he believes the U.S. needs improvement—and where his own party has contributed to the dysfunction in Congress.  More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Crime Commission Adopts New Tactics on Cigarette Smuggling

Virginia Crime Commission Members

Virginia Crime Commission Members

In spite of recent stronger penalties, traffickers are still smuggling Virginia’s low-tax cigarettes to other states—especially to New York City, where demand for the Commonwealth’s cigarettes is soaring due to the city’s high excise taxes.

Some estimates suggest that 21 percent of Virginia cigarettes end up in other states, where profits are so high that many criminals would rather sell tobacco than heroin. But the State Crime Commission is recommending a different tactic to deter the traffickers.

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Pet Birth Control Idea Wins $20K UVA Entrepreneurship Cup

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Pete Markam/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The American Humane Society calls pet overpopulation a tragic problem, forcing shelters to euthanize millions of cats and dogs each year. Now, students at the University of Virginia have a solution – a non-surgical, reversible form of birth control for pets. Sandy Hausman has that story.

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McDonnell Case: Request for New Trial Denied

McDonnell 082114

August, 2014

In court documents released late yesterday, the federal judge who presided over the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, rejected a request by the former first couple for a new trial.  Judge James Spencer also denied their request to throw out their guilty verdicts—with the exception of one conviction against Maureen.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details.

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UVA President Promises Changes

Seven SocietyThe president of the University of Virginia cancelled a speech to the National Press Club in favor of speaking to students Monday. She pledged a series of changes to combat sexual assault on campus – among them, forcing fraternities to operate under new rules and pressing police to arrest sellers of date rape drugs. Sandy Hausman has details.

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Pricey Equipment in Virginia’s Higher Ed Classrooms

Co-chairs Delegate-Scott Lingamfelter and former Delegate Joe May

Co-chairs Delegate-Scott Lingamfelter and former Delegate Joe May

Virginia universities have invested at least one-billion-dollars in highly sophisticated, expensive equipment for research and development. Some allow entrepreneurs to have access to that equipment and school expertise for a fee. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, a panel of lawmakers and experts is working to craft state policies to expand such opportunities in a way that benefits businesses, universities, and taxpayers.

 

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The Brock Environmental Center

Brock Center 01Many people spend their weekends looking at houses. Some are in the market to buy. Others are just nosey, but recently Virginians toured a new building like no other in the nation – a place that gets all its water from rain, generates all the power it needs, has not a single flush toilet and keeps the floors clean in an ingenious way. Sandy Hausman took the tour and filed this report.

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VaNews: Blue Crab Decline in the Chesapeake Bay

VPAPnewAs the blue crab harvest in the Chesapeake Bay continues to decline there’s still uncertainty over the causes and disagreement about what should be done. That’s been one of the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

 

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New Lawmakers Learn the Ropes in Washington

Capitol Dome, Washington DC

Photo: Creative Commons

Earlier this month Virginia voters sent three new politicians to represent them in Washington. For most, their terms won’t start until January, but, as Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo explains, they’ve been busy learning how to be a member of one of the most exclusive bodies on earth.

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Flip-Chip Communication

Flip ChipA University of Virginia Medical Clinic sees one or two patients a week for injuries from…of all things…yoga. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the practice’s boom…20.4 million Americans do yoga and on average spend $500 a year on clothes and retreats. Reporter Lydia Wilson spoke with a teacher-turned-entrepreneur trying to reverse the rising trend of yoga injuries.

 

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Boosting Cyber-Security in Virginia

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

When Americans think of terrorism, they often envision 9-11-style attacks or some other extreme act of violence. But the nation’s enemies don’t just hail from a specific part of the world, and Americans are under attack every day—not by air, land, or sea, but electronically through data breaches and hacking. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that’s why the commonwealth’s Cyber Security Commission is focusing on discovering vulnerabilities and strengthening the state’s databases.

 

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Virginia’s Uninsured Children

Children Health Care CC

Photo: Creative Commons

A Virginia child advocacy organization has a new take on “No Child Left Behind”—that is, making sure all children in Virginia have health insurance. And while that IS possible right now, Voices for Virginia’s Children says that could change in the very near future if federal lawmakers don’t act.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Rally At UVA: Calls to End Sexual Violence

UVA rally PhotoAbout 700 people rallied at the University of Virginia responding to reports of sexual violence on campus. Sandy Hausman was there and filed this report.

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Commission on Youth Address School Behavior Issues

Delegate Richard Bell (top row, third from right) and VA  Commission on YouthVirginia schools are increasingly confronted with youth who exhibit challenging behavior. And while schools sometimes use physical restraint and seclusion to de-escalate a crisis, the state does not have any explicit laws or regulations that govern their use. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, that concerns the Commission on Youth, which is recommending legislation to require the Board of Education to formulate new rules and restrictions.

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Integrity & Public Confidence in State Government

Governor McAuliffe with Commission Members

Governor McAuliffe with Commission Members

Although they’re not quite final, the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government is just about ready to submit its recommendations to Governor McAuliffe to meet his December 1st deadline.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one of the lingering issues is how to change the process for determining legislative districts and prevent gerrymandering.

 

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Political Analyst: Voters Send the Message

Tommie01

Bob Holsworth

Eric Cantor loses the number two spot in the House of Representatives, former Governor Bob McDonnell is convicted on corruption charges, and Mark Warner almost loses his U.S. Senate seat after one term.  Political analyst Bob Holsworth told social studies teachers at a Civics Summit that if he had predicted several years ago what happened to Virginia’s most popular politicians this year, he probably would not have been invited to speak.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, he offered some enlightenment about the Commonwealth’s recent electoral politics.

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Lawmakers Weigh Penalties for Underage Sexting

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

The State Crime Commission is wrestling with how to craft balanced legislation that addresses the growing problem of underage teens who take sexually explicit images of themselves and send them to others. The members’ concern is heightened by some widely published cases—including a Louisa County “sexting” ring involving 100 teens and 1,000 images of minors posted on Instagram. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re also concerned that the penalties in existing laws designed for adult child predators may be too steep for teens.

 

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Gillespie Concedes Senate Race

Ed GillespieWith a concession speech in Northern Virginia by Republican Ed Gillespie, the U.S. Senate race is officially over, and Democrat Mark Warner will be entering his second term as a U.S. Senator.  More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

 

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Challenges Remain: Housing Options for the Disabled

familyIt does not appear that Virginia lawmakers have a clear idea of how to house and treat thousands of people who are developmentally and intellectually disabled after the federal government ordered four of the five state facilities to close as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the debate isn’t about whether it’s right to house them within their communities, but whether the state can pay for adequate facilities to fit all their needs.

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Property Rights Dispute Continues

The Boneta Bill www.youtube.com

The Boneta Bill
http://www.youtube.com

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation has agreed to act as a mediator in a property rights dispute between a Fauquier County farmer and the Piedmont Environmental Council.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that depending on the outcome, some farmers say the case could have a negative impact on the state’s conservation easements program and create a hostile environment between landowners and government entities.

 

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Sen. Warner’s Image Could Suffer, Says Analyst

Sen. Mark Warner Archive Photo/Creative Commons

Sen. Mark Warner
Archive Photo/Creative Commons

Though it’s not yet official Democrat Mark Warner appears to have narrowly won re­election to the U­S Senate in a contest that was much closer than anticipated. Even in apparent victory, Warner’s national brand may have been tarnished by his election night struggle against Republican Ed Gillespie. Fred Echols reports.

 

 

 

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Virginia Film Festival 2014 Opens

Virginia Film Festival 2014For 27 years in Charlottesville, the Virginia Film Festival has provided an annual showcase of movies, everything from independent films to classics to documentaries, along with panel discussions and other special events.  Not to mention an opportunity for local folks to rub elbows with some big names in film. Andrew Jenner reports.

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Get Out The Vote

VA21 Members

VA21 Members

In a mid term election, the goal is to ‘get out the vote.’ As Robbie Harris tells us, one demographic is stepping up its “G-O-T-V’ efforts this time around.

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Election 2014

VoteHereVirginia voters head to the polls today to elect a U.S. Senator, their member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a number of local offices in various localities. They also must make a decision on a state constitutional amendment—whether to authorize local property tax exemptions for the surviving spouses of military members who were killed in action. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, voters must also present a valid photo ID when they go to cast their ballots.

 

More information on acceptable forms of identification and ALL of the candidates on the ballot can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections website at: elections.virginia.gov. Voters who don’t bring photo IDs can still cast provisional ballots, then present valid IDs to their local registrars by Friday at noon.

 

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Unregulated Daycare Centers & Traffic Frustration Focus of VaNews from VPAP

VPAPnewThe Virginia General Assembly is likely to consider new rules for unregulated day care centers next year…and commuters who make the difficult slog through Interstate 66 gridlock in Northern Virginia are using license plates to vent their frustration. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.   More now from Fred Echols.

 

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Liberterian Candidate for Senate: Robert Sarvis

sarvis_robSome contend his campaign stole votes from the Ken Cuccinelli for Governor campaign last year.  And many wonder why Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is now running for the U.S. Senate when his poll numbers pale compared to his Democratic and Republican rivals. But in a conversation with Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil, Sarvis explains his focus isn’t on winning, it’s on branding.

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Protected: Spotlight on WVTF/RADIO IQ

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Wildlife Center of Virginia: Unusual Auction

Wildlife03The Wildlife Center of Virginia is one-of-a-kind – a privately funded medical facility for injured animals from across the Commonwealth. To make ends meet, the Waynesboro Center will host a fundraiser and auction featuring some surprising items. Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

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Insanity Bid? Experts See Bleak Options for Matthew

Jesse Matthew

Jesse Matthew

Experts suggest that Jesse L. Matthew Jr., the man authorities link to the Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington cases, stands no chance of bail and little chance of a life outside of prison– even if he attempts an insanity defense. Hawes Spencer has this report ahead of Matthew’s court appearance Friday, October 31st.

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Is Matthew’s Defender Ready For His Closeup?

Attorney Jim Camblos Photo: Neal Augenstein, WTOP

Attorney Jim Camblos
Photo: Neal Augenstein, WTOP

The lawyer now tasked with representing Virginia’s most embattled criminal suspect has a long track record, primarily on the prosecution side of the courtroom. Is Jim Camblos the right lawyer for the man charged in the case of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student whose remains were publicly identified on Friday, October 24?

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