Justices declare effort targeting leading advocate illegal, ending 5-year court battle
On Thursday, the highest court in Virginia ended the Commonwealth’s 13-year campaign to indefinitely detain a prominent advocate on criminal justice matters, Galen Baughman. In a victory for justice the Supreme Court ruled that the petition filed against Baughman in 2017 was illegal.
A Short History of Baughman’s Fight
Baughman has been targeted by the Virginia attorney general’s office under the state’s civil confinement scheme since 2009 when prosecutors filed a petition to send him to Virginia’s shadow prison in Burkeville shortly before his release from a seven-year prison sentence for consensual adolescent sexual conduct. That initial petition went to trial in 2012 and a jury voted unanimously in his favor. Baughman describes that trial in a 2015 TED Talk. In 2017, less than 24 hours before his release from a 20-month sentence for an alleged first-time technical violation, the attorney general’s office petitioned a second time to have Baughman indefinitely detained past his release date. The Supreme Court’s ruling last week dismissed that 2017 petition because it was based on the testimony of an expert who was prohibited from testifying under “the plain language of the statute.”