WaPo DUMPS Buta And Descano! John Legend Sing Them a Tune!
Oh, what a delightful turn of events we have here! In the great electoral battleground of Fairfax and Loudoun, who would have thought that the esteemed John Legend, the progressive lunatic and musician, would carry more weight than the almighty Washington Post? I mean, come on, it’s only the hometown liberal paper! But no, according to Fairfax CA, John Legend’s tweets reign supreme, folks! The Twitterverse must be quaking in its boots.
And here’s a real shocker for you: the Washington Post, the beacon of liberal ideals, decided to cancel their support for the magnificent Steve Descano. Can you believe it? The WaPo turned its back on their very own hometown hero. Oh, the humanity! Who needs the endorsement of a paper that actually has some standards, right? Clearly, Descano couldn’t live up to their lofty expectations. How tragic.
But wait, there’s more! The WaPo also decided to unleash their canceling powers on Buta Biberaj. No endorsement for the hobbler! Can you imagine? According to the WaPo, Buta has been hobbling her way through public office, making enemies left and right, and struggling to collaborate. Well, well, well, looks like we’ve got ourselves a real hobbler here. Isn’t it fascinating that even the esteemed Washington Post has standards that neither Descano nor the Hobbler could live up to? Truly stunning!
Oh, the drama and intrigue of the Fairfax and Loudoun elections! Who needs logical reasoning and coherent arguments when we have the legendary Washington Post canceling left radical CA’s? It’s a spectacle for the ages, my friends. Buckle up and enjoy the show!
Four years ago, reform-minded progressives replaced more traditional prosecutors as commonwealth attorney in three Northern Virginia counties. Changing the system from the inside proved harder than each expected. Their offices experienced high turnover and generated mixed results. All three seek a second term in Democratic primaries on June 20. Early voting started Friday.
While the incumbents say they need more time to overcome entrenched opposition and complete promised transformations, their Democratic challengers have positioned themselves as the more effective change agents. That’s a testament to how the conversation has evolved. Safety and fairness aren’t incompatible, but finding the proper balance requires prosecutors to exercise judgment based on the facts of individual cases. Our endorsements are a close call in all three races, but we’re supporting the candidates we believe will act most effectively on that imperative.
In Arlington and Falls Church, we believe incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti should be reelected. She has brought fewer cases than her predecessor but claims she achieved a higher conviction rate by not stacking charges. A behavioral health docket successfully diverts many nonviolent offenders out of the system. While judges have rejected a historically large number of plea agreements negotiated by her office, she hasn’t given up on trying to secure buy-in for a more holistic approach to justice. Nevertheless, Ms. Dehghani-Tafti has pursued mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl dealers because the drug is so prevalent, dangerous and cheap.
She has also shown a willingness to make — and own — difficult choices. In a case that’s become a flash point in this race, she resisted intense community pressure to try a 17-year-old as an adult in a vehicular manslaughter case. “You can’t be guided by emotion, even when it’s genuine and horrifying,” she told us in an interview.
Challenger Josh Katcher spent a decade in this office before resigning last year. He’s rightly proud of his work diverting drug users and nonviolent offenders from the system. Mr. Katcher calls himself a second-generation reformer with more practical prosecutorial experience who can fill vacancies in the office and improve data transparency. But what Ms. Dehghani-Tafti has started is bearing fruit, and there’s no need to go back to the drawing board.
In Fairfax, we favor defense attorney Ed Nuttall over incumbent Steve Descano. Mr. Descano, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a former federal prosecutor, deserves credit for beefing up diversion programs that keep people convicted of certain crimes out of prison, especially drug courts, and ending cash bail. He created a red-flag law team that has taken guns away from hundreds of unstable people. And he’s taking gun crime seriously: A D.C. rapper who opened fire in the Tysons Corner Center mall last summer faces up to 33 years in prison.
But Mr. Descano’s office has struggled with miscommunication and has blown an unacceptable number of winnable cases. In October, a drunk school bus driver (his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for driving) swerved off the road with 44 kindergartners aboard, injuring nine. The case fell apart because Mr. Descano’s staff missed deadlines for supplying evidentiary material to the driver’s lawyer. Instead of convicting the driver for the nine serious felonies he initially faced, Mr. Descano’s staff allowed the defendant to plead no contest to three misdemeanors. He spent just 8½ months in jail.
The office has also botched multiple sexual assault cases. An 11-year-old said he was sodomized, and a suspect admitted to the boy’s mother in a call recorded by police that he did it. But a judge ruled the confession inadmissible because the evidence wasn’t properly handled. The defendant, Ronnie Reel, was offered a plea deal for misdemeanor assault and battery and freed on time served. He was then rearrested on a probation violation in another county. A Fairfax judge told the victim at a sentencing hearing for another sex-assault case: “Your government has failed you.”
Mr. Nuttall has handled more than 1,000 cases, but he’s best known for representing officers in more than 20 police shooting cases in Virginia. He won an acquittal for Fairfax County police officer Tyler Timberlake after Mr. Descano charged him with using excessive force against a Black man. Mr. Descano called that “one of the hardest days” he has had in the job. Mr. Nuttall says Mr. Descano rushed to judgment, announcing charges a day after the incident, and never had a good case.
Mr. Descano called his relationship with law enforcement “healthier than it’s ever been” and warned that Mr. Nuttall will be beholden to the police union: “The enemy of reform is police unions. That’s his circle.”
Mr. Nuttall noted that every client is entitled to a robust defense and pledged, if elected, to hold officers accountable for misconduct. “When a cop commits a crime, off duty or on duty, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “Criminal justice reform is here to stay, but we have to do it the right way. For reform to work, all the stakeholders need to be committed.”
Members of the bar and bench respect Mr. Nuttall, a first-time candidate who promises to take all political staff out of the commonwealth’s attorney office. He says he’d use the savings to hire a training coordinator to improve prosecutors’ handling of evidentiary issues.
In Loudoun, defense attorney Elizabeth Lancaster gets our endorsement over incumbent Buta Biberaj. Ms. Biberaj followed through on promises to reduce excessive criminalization and incarceration. She has reduced the average daily jail population from about 425 to less than 250, which has saved taxpayers money, and added dockets for mental health and veterans to address the root causes of crime and put nonviolent offenders into diversionary programs.
But she has found herself under a microscope as Loudoun became ground zero in national culture wars. Ms. Biberaj pursued charges against the father of a girl who had been sexually assaulted in a high school bathroom after he got into an altercation at a school board meeting. Ms. Lancaster served as a lawyer for the dad and a victim advocate for the girl — as well as another teen who was sexually assaulted a few months later after the perpetrator transferred to a different Loudoun high school. There have been other tragic cases on Ms. Biberaj’s watch, including a man who murdered his wife after being released on bond for charges of beating her.
Ms. Biberaj has repeatedly clashed with the Republican sheriff and the Democratic-controlled Board of Supervisors. Most recently, she has been feuding with the board over her decision not to send prosecutors into court for certain kinds of nonviolent misdemeanors that don’t carry jail time. Instead, claiming insufficient resources, she’s letting officers and judges handle them. Bur defense attorneys complain that the lack of a prosecutor can lead to inconsistent outcomes.
Ms. Biberaj is a fighter. Her spirit was a strength in private practice and helped her clients. But it has hobbled her in public office, where she has made enemies and struggled to collaborate. Ms. Biberaj says Democratic supervisors on the board clash with her because they succumbed to fear and scaremongering. “I thought the politics was in getting elected, not doing the job,” she said.
Ms. Lancaster was a public defender for 15 years, primarily representing juveniles, before going into private practice. She touts her relationships with all the stakeholders with whom the incumbent has struggled to work. “You’ve got to get into the sandbox with the people who are needed to actually make change,” Ms. Lancaster said. In Loudoun, a fresh start would help.