The Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the basement of the state Capitol.

Va. judge rules Portsmouth must repair condemned jail

PORTSMOUTH — A judge has ruled that Portsmouth can’t condemn its jail and must instead make the necessary repairs to keep it safe and operational.

Portsmouth officials condemned the jail and four other buildings in the downtown area without notice in July, citing reports that investigators found the complexes weren’t fit for human occupancy, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Sheriff Michael Moore challenged the move in court. On Thursday, Circuit Judge Johnny Morrison ruled the city must make the repairs, estimated to cost about $300,000, according to Moore’s lawyer, Jon Babineau.

The city and the sheriff remain at odds over whether to send inmates to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in the meantime, the paper said. Moore has refused to send inmates to the regional facility for the past year, citing a federal investigation that found unsafe conditions there.

Moore asked Morrison to block the city from trying to transfer inmates to that jail. Morrison ruled the parties should continue negotiating for 60 more days, at which point he will make a decision if they haven’t come to an agreement.

Portsmouth’s assistant city attorney did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

Family of teen fatally shot by officer awarded $3.65M

LEESBURG — A Northern Virginia jury has awarded a multimillion-dollar verdict to the family of a teenager fatally shot by a police officer in 2014.

The Washington Post reported that a civil trial concluded in Loudoun County with a $3.65 million judgment against officer Timothy Hood, who was with the Purcellville Police Department when he responded to a call about a suicidal teen armed with a knife in May 2014.

Hood was cleared of wrongdoing in a Virginia State Police investigation, but the family of Christian Sierra filed a civil lawsuit.

Witnesses testified Sierra was out on the sidewalk advancing at Hood as soon as the officer arrived, but differed on how close Sierra had approached and whether Hood gave sufficient warning to Sierra to drop his knife before firing.

A seven-person civil jury found Hood liable for battery. Hood, who now works for the police department in Haymarket, is appealing the verdict.

Panel discussion scheduled on discriminatory U.S. laws

NORFOLK — Descendants of judges and plaintiffs in two landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases will participate in a panel discussion in Virginia on how some U.S. laws have fostered discrimination.

“Dred Scott Presents: Sons and Daughters of Reconciliation” will be held Jan. 21 at Norfolk State University. The program is being held in honor of the National Day of Racial Healing.

Among the panelists scheduled to speak are Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom in 1857; and Charles Taney IV, the great-great-great-nephew of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, who wrote the decision denying Scott his freedom.

Also participating will be Keith Plessy, whose great-grandfather was a cousin of Homer Plessy, who challenged separate accommodations for black and white railroad passengers in 1892; and Phoebe Ferguson, the great-great-granddaughter of Louisiana Judge John Howard Ferguson, who ruled against Homer Plessy.

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— From wire reports

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