Appeals court grants hearing on Joe Morrissey felony charges

Published: Jun. 12, 2015 at 6:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Court of Appeals has granted prosecutors' request for a hearing on Virginia Senate candidate Joe Morrissey's dismissed felony charges.

In April, a Henrico judge dismissed all felony charges in the perjury and forgery case against the former delegate. However, the Commonwealth appealed the case and their request was granted on Thursday.

The Henrico judge ruled in April the charges must be thrown out, because they stem from Morrissey's plea agreement to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The plea agreement includes an immunity clause, which states no future charges would be filed in connection to the case. The Henrico judge felt the clause was so broad the perjury charges would raise double jeopardy concerns.

However, the judge also urged prosecutors to bring the matter to an appeals court, as he felt the public has a right to a hearing. They filed their appeal and now Morrissey could potentially face the felony charges once again, as the Virginia Court of Appeals decided on Thursday the case a second chance.

Morrissey called the appeals court's action "pretty typical stuff" and said his attorneys will respond with a brief. A date for the panel's hearing has not been set.

Morrissey pleaded guilty to the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge in December. Prosecutors said he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who worked as a part-time receptionist at his law office. Morrissey, then a delegate, entered an Alford Plea to the misdemeanor count, which means he does not admit guilt, but understands there's enough evidence for him to be found guilty at trial.

A judge sentenced Morrissey to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. He served three months at Henrico Jail East while on work release to practice law and serve in the General Assembly.

Morrissey and the girl, now a 19-years-old woman, later had a child together. The politician held a press conference in May saying he and Myrna Pride intend to get married and have more children.

However, prosecutors brought new perjury charges against Morrissey and the girl's mother, Deidre Warren, saying they falsified documents in the teen sex case. Investigators searched Morrissey's law office for child support documents which Morrissey's defense team claim were the reason a then 17-year-old part-time employee was at his home on the night of August 23, 2013. They say the teen went to discuss child support she was owed by her father, Coleman Pride. Prosecutors say the girl was there as part of a sexual relationship between the two.

Warren was found not guilty on the forgery charge and the perjury charge was dismissed earlier this month.

Pride denies ever signing the form and says he never owed child support to his daughter. Prosecutors say the entire second page of the document is a fabricated public record and Warren perjured herself when testifying it was authentic.

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