Judicial Watch and Legal Insurrection Blog Team to Investigate Virginia State Bar’s Controversial Cancellation of Israel Trip, Demand Documents from Taxpayer-Funded Agency Under Virginia Freedom of Information Act
APRIL 01, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that it has sent a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all records of the Virginia State Bar (VSB) about the sudden cancellation of the VSB’s long-planned Mid-Year Legal Seminar scheduled for November 15 in Israel. Filing the request on behalf of William A. Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection blog, Judicial Watch seeks all records created by or in the possession of VSB’s President Kevin Martingayle and President-Elect Edward L. Weiner about the controversial decision to cancel the official trip to Israel.
In first announcing the cancellation of the trip to Israel, VSB President Kevin Martingayle cited the alleged concerns of unnamed Bar members expressing “unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers to the nation.” Reporting by Legal Insurrection suggests, contrary to statements by Virginia State Bar officials, the decision to cancel the trip was the result of pressure from a leftist “boycott Israel” movement.
The records requested include:
- Communications with the Mid-Year Legal Seminar Committee.
- Plans and schedules, including contracts and agreements with airlines, hotels and other services.
- Communications regarding the cancellation of those services include penalties and fees.
- Communications with state agencies, elected officials, the public, the media, VSB members, State Department or other U.S. government persons, the Embassy of Israel or other Israeli government persons regarding the trip.
- Complaints regarding the Israel Trip.
Virginia law requires the records be made available within five business days.
The mission of the Virginia State Bar, as an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, is to regulate the legal profession of Virginia; to advance the availability and quality of legal services provided to the people of Virginia; and to assist in improving the legal profession and the judicial system. The VSB employs 89 people, and its taxpayer-funded budget for 2015 is nearly $26,000,000.
“The Virginia State Bar is a government agency that is trying to cover its tracks over an ideological decision to attack and participate in a boycott of Israel,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “The agency charged with regulating the ethics of lawyers in Virginia seems to be in cover up mode.”