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Huguely argues civil deposition could hurt chances of retrial
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Huguely argues civil deposition could hurt chances of retrial

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George Huguely V is arguing he has the right not to talk during a deposition for a lawsuit filed by the family of Yeardley Love because it could hurt his federal court attempts to be retried.

Huguely, then a University of Virginia lacrosse player, was found guilty in Charlottesville Circuit Court in 2012 of second-degree murder in the slaying of Love, who also played lacrosse at UVa and was Huguely’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. She was found dead in her apartment in May 2010, weeks before she and Huguely were set to graduate.

In the years since the trial, Huguely has attempted to appeal the case on several instances, and in 2015, he appealed the case up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused his petition for certiorari on his claim that the circuit court denied his right to counsel by forcing him to proceed in the absence of his retained counsel of choice.

With direct methods of appeal exhausted, counsel for Huguely in April filed a writ of habeas corpus — a court order demanding that the director of the Virginia Department of Corrections deliver a prisoner to the court and show a valid reason for the person’s detention. The writ, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges a swath of Sixth Amendment violations.

The filing argues that Huguely is entitled to a new criminal trial and comes after a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the Charlottesville Circuit Court in 2018.

Huguely also is named as a defendant in a 2018 wrongful death lawsuit filed by Love’s mother and sister. The suit seeks compensation for assault and battery, as well as punitive damages stemming from Love’s death. The lawsuit is set for an April jury trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court, according to online court records.

Per motions filings in the Charlottesville lawsuit, Huguely is arguing that if he is deposed, he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and not answer certain questions regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Love. Specifically, he is claiming the portion of the Fifth Amendment that protects against self-incrimination.

A June filing from counsel for Love’s family argues that Huguely is not permitted to assert the Fifth Amendment because he has been convicted by a jury in the criminal case and has exhausted his direct appeals.

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“Because defendant’s conviction is final — he was convicted by a jury, sentenced, and all of his direct appeals (and even his state habeas appeal) were exhausted — the Fifth Amendment privilege does not apply,” the plaintiffs’ motion reads.

In an August response, counsel for Huguely argued that the scope of the Fifth Amendment is more broad than Love’s counsel argues and applies to individuals in any situation with the possibility of self-incrimination.

“This right clearly exists despite the fact that he has already been convicted once of two crimes and appealed those convictions,” the response reads. “Because he is currently a party in his first federal case seeking to vacate his conviction via habeas relief, there exists a plausible possibility that any civil testimony could be used against him in a subsequent criminal trial.”

In September, a Charlottesville Circuit Court judge heard arguments from both parties but has yet to issue a written order.

Huguely’s petition for writ of habeas corpus is still pending, but counsel for Harold W. Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, filed a motion in July to dismiss the petition without an evidentiary hearing.

The lengthy motion breaks down arguments Huguely’s petition presents, arguing that the federal court should stand by earlier decisions made by the state circuit court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Huguely’s response argues that the motion to dismiss his petition “largely just block-quotes each of the relevant state court decisions while ignoring [Huguely’s] arguments about why those decisions were unreasonable.”

“At a minimum, Mr. Huguely has offered plausible allegations that the jury’s deliberations were tainted by external influences and that his defense was severely prejudiced by trial counsel’s deficient performance,” the response reads. “The state habeas court acknowledged the seriousness of these allegations when it initially scheduled an evidentiary hearing before inexplicably cancelling the hearing and dismissing the petition.”

In September, Huguely’s petition was assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen. No hearings are currently scheduled.

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