A judge declined to rule on a request in the Joe Morrissey case that, if approved, would bar mention of the delegate’s past “bad acts.”
At Wednesday’s pre-trial hearing in Henrico County Circuit Court, Judge Martin Bass heard arguments on several motions filed by both the state and Morrissey’s defense team. The defense motion to bar mention of Morrissey’s ‘bad acts’ was the most hotly contested.
If approved, the motion would prevent the prosecution from introducing evidence about Morrissey’s relationship with the 17-year-old receptionist with whom he’s accused of having sex. (The former law firm employee has since turned 18.) Specifically, evidence police gathered in the course of a 15-month investigation that put Morrissey in a hotel room, at a movie theater and at his house with the girl, could be excluded.
Defense attorney James Maloney argued that the incidents are only circumstantial and are not relevant to the charge against his client.
“The commonwealth has zero evidence that there was sexual contact between [Morrissey and the girl],” Maloney told the court.
William Neely, the commonwealth’s attorney appointed to handle the case, conceded that the incidents are circumstantial, but argued that they serve to establish a romantic relationship between Morrissey and the employee. Excluding mention of the incidents, he told the court, would not allow the state to expose bias on behalf of the girl, who Neely says has given conflicting statements to police and investigators about her and Morrissey’s relationship.
Maloney retorted, arguing that the teenager never admitted to having sex with Morrissey, not even under oath in front of the special grand jury that indicted the delegate in June.
Unmoved, the judge called the motion “premature” and did not rule in favor of either side.
After the hour-long hearing, Neely declined comment.
Maloney, strolling out of the courtroom, told reporters, “We’re looking forward to trying the case on [Dec.] 15th.”
A scrum of TV cameras and reporters waited for Morrissey to exit the building after the hearing, but the delegate never showed.
The defense requested a second motions hearing be set for next week, before the trial starts. No date is set yet.