Thursday, September 21, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Virginia Lawmaker Says He’s Not Guilty of Felony

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A Virginia lawmaker jailed for having an inappropriate relationship with a teenager pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges he fabricated a document presented as evidence in the case.

In December, Virginia Delegate Joseph Morrissey was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after prosecutors accused him of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old employee in his law office.

The four-count indictment accuses Morrissey of forging a document that he vouched for in court, and of persuading the teen's mother to also attests to its validity.

Morrissey introduced the document to support his claim that the night police found the teenager, Myrna Pride, at his home, she had gone there - with her mother's knowledge -- to get legal advice about payments her father, Coleman Pride, had allegedly failed to make into her college fund.

It was the girl's father who alerted police to the possible inappropriate relationship between Morrissey and Pride.

Pride's mother, Deidre Warren, was also indicted on perjury charges, and she also entered a not guilty pleas.

If convicted, Morrissey could face up to 40 years imprisonment, while Warren faces up to 30 years.

Morrissey is currently serving a six-month sentence as part of plea agreement with prosecutors. Despite the scandal, he was reelected to office from jail on Jan. 12.

On Feb. 6, 2015, Morrissey filed a motion for the release of exculpatory evidence that he believes might lead to a reduction of his sentence, including "the terms of any plea negotiation, and [an alleged] promise or threat (direct or implied) made to potential prosecution witness by or on behalf of the Commonwealth or any agency or officer thereof."

The motion also seeks permission to inspect evidence and reports related to the felony charges, "specifically, the defendant requests the Court to Order the Commonwealth to divulge all reports (written or oral) made to, given or provided to Henrico County detectives regarding the questioned handwritten signature of Coleman Pride which is central to this matter."

Morrissey also submitted a motion for the return of property seized by law enforcement in what he calls "a show of force," just one day before the special election for the 74th House District seat.

Along with computers and hard drives containing proprietary information, Morrissey says his defense file from the plea trial was also seized.

Without these items, Morrissey says, his law office cannot conduct business.

"Since the seizure of all five computers and the printer's hard drive on Monday, January 12, 2015, Mr. Morrissey's law firm has been effectively shut down," Morrissey alleges in his motion. "All client data associated with approximately 42 active cases, are contained on the computer's hard drive, which also includes confidential information on those clients."

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.