FAMILY/CRIMINAL ISSUES – ABATEMENT OF PROSECUTION – DEATH OF DEFENDANT – SPECIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL FELT NEEDS. In a truly remarkable precedent-smashing case, the Supreme Court decided that there are now criminal cases that can continue beyond the defendant’s death. Bevel v. Commonwealth, ___ Va. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 26 VLW 668 (11/4/11), had been a prosecution for recently-revealed incest, and after the defendant died while his conviction was on appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court decided that because the two victims argued that the prosecution had to continue to a final determination of guilt because that would make them feel better, the Supreme Court agreed that this must be done in order to give them “a sense of closure and validation.” The Court of Appeals had even denied the motion of defendant’s counsel to withdraw when the man died. The Supreme Court says that in fact the statutes don’t really exactly say that the prosecution must abate in such a case, and “We are of opinion that the prior cases with orders in which abatement was applied have no precedential value.” The Court examined various similar cases from the federal and state appellate courts, and found differing opinions on somewhat similar issues. Has the U.S. Supreme Court spoken of this? Well yes, but as for Durham v. U.S., 401 U.S. 481, 483, which said, “death pending direct review of a criminal conviction abates not only the appeal but also all proceedings had in the prosecution from its inception”, that was a per curiam opinion. The waste of scarce judicial resources on pursuing dead people beyond the grave for someone’s sense of “closure” was apparently not discussed.