Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cooper v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

December 23, 1997

D. J. COOPER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BEDFORD COUNTY. William W. Sweeney, Judge.

Evans B. Jessee for appellant.

Linwood T. Wells, Jr., Assistant Attorney General (Richard Cullen, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges Coleman, Elder and Senior Judge Cole.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

LARRY G. ELDER, JUDGE

D. J. Cooper (appellant) appeals his conviction of exceeding water quality for contaminants in a public water supply in violation of Code § 32.1-27(A) and VR 355-18-004.06 (now 12 VAC 5-590-390). He contends (1) that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss the charge against him, (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and (3) that the trial court erred when it admitted evidence that he violated the waterworks regulations after the time period for which he was charged. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I.

MOTION TO DISMISS

Appellant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss. He argues that Code § 32.1-28 required the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct the prosecution against him and that the trial court erroneously ruled that the prosecution by the Commonwealth's attorney did not render the criminal proceeding against him illegal and invalid. We disagree.

" In construing statutes, courts are charged with ascertaining and giving effect to the intent of the legislature." Crown Cent. Petroleum Corp. v. Hill, 254 Va. 88, 91, 488 S.E.2d 345, 346 (1997) (citing City of Winchester v. American Woodmark Corp., 250 Va. 451, 457, 464 S.E.2d 148, 152 (1995)). " That intention is initially found in the words of the statute itself, and if those words are clear and unambiguous, we do not rely on rules of statutory construction or parol evidence, unless a literal application would produce a meaningless or absurd result." Id. (citations omitted).

We hold that the trial court did not err when it denied appellant's motion to dismiss. The trial court correctly applied Code § 32.1-28 when it reasoned that this code section did not prohibit the Commonwealth's attorney from conducting the prosecution of appellant under Code § 32.1-27(A).

The clear and unambiguous language of Code § 32.1-28 indicates that the General Assembly did not intend the Attorney General to prosecute violations of Code § 32.1-27(A). [1] The relevant part of Code § 32.1-28 states:

The Attorney General shall represent the [State Board of Health] or the [State Health Commissioner] in all actions and proceedings for the enforcement of regulations or orders of the Board or Commissioner or the provisions of this title . . . .

(Emphasis added). The statutory provisions regarding the " actions and proceedings" that may be brought by the State Board of Health (board) and the State Health Commissioner (commissioner) indicate that instituting criminal proceedings to prosecute violations of Code § 32.1-27(A) is not among them. First, the statutes establishing the powers of the board and commissioner do not expressly reference the authority of either to institute criminal proceedings. See Code § § 32.1-12, -13, -27, -169, -170, -172 to -174, -175 (stating the relevant powers of the board), and Code § § 32.1-19, -20, -27 (stating the relevant powers of the commissioner). In addition, the language in Code § 32.1-27, which sets forth the criminal penalties and civil remedies for violations of health-related statutes, regulations and orders, clearly indicates that the General Assembly did not intend either the board or the commissioner to handle prosecutions under Code § 32.1-27(A). In all of the legal remedies established in Code § 32.1-27 except for the criminal penalty, the General Assembly used language empowering the board or commissioner to act. See Code § 32.1-27(B) and (C) (stating that a court may issue an injunction, mandamus, or civil penalty " in a proceeding instituted . . . by the Board or Commissioner to obey [health-related statutes, regulations, or orders]" (emphasis added)); Code § 32.1-27(D) (stating that " the Board may provide, in an order issued by the Board " for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.