Inventory of the Papers of H. Lane Kneedler: Legislative History of Virginia's Criminal Assault Law, 1977-1981
A Collection in
The Arthur J. Morris Law Library, Special Collections
Collection Number MSS 81-1
University of Virginia, Arthur J. Morris Law LibrarySpecial Collections
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Inventory of the Papers of H. Lane Kneedler: Legislative History of Virginia's Criminal Assault Law, 1977-1981, MSS 81-1, Box Number, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library.
In 1976 the General Assembly appointed the State Crime Commission which in turn established the Advisory Task Force to Study Criminal Sexual Assault. The Task Force met for the first time October 18, 1976, and five committees were charged with studying the crime, its impact, prevention and punishment. Lane Kneedler was appointed to the Court Process Committee which later merged with the Legislation Committee as the drafting of the bill began; the other committees were Treatment, Rehabilitation and Punishment; Law Enforcement; and Public Education. All the committees carried on research and held public hearings before making recommendations.
The Virginia Committee on Sexual Assault Reform (COSAR), a citizen's interest group, had formed at approximately the same time the Crime Commission was getting started, so its leaders were appointed to most of these committees. In May 1977, COSAR presented a proposed criminal sexual assault reform bill to the Legislation Committee. By the late fall of that year, Kneedler and his research assistants made recommendations to the merged committees on the proposed bill which in January of 1978 became S. B. 291. Introduced by Senator Stanley Walker, it passed the Senate by a vote of 32-6. S. B. 291 then went before the House Courts of Justice Committee where it was amended; in the 1979 session the bill passed the House by a vote of 77-21, but the Senate rejected a conference committee report on it. Consequently, S. B. 291, in 1979 sponsored by Senator Joseph Gartlan, died with the close of the session
Task Force members and additional legislators revised the bill in the summer and fall of 1979. The resulting S. B. 258, sponsored by Senator Frederick Boucher, was diligently studied by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee in early 1980. On February 18, the bill carried the committee, 11-4, and passes the Senate the same day by a vote 31-9. The House Courts of Justice Committee, however, voted to carry the bill over to the 1981 session.
A special committee to study S. B. 258 was appointed in June of 1980, but this committee, in fact, did not work on the bill. Task Force members and representatives of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, the principal opponents of the bill, constructed a compromise version of it. The Task Force members were Senators Boucher and Gartlan, Ann Warshauer of COSAR, and Lane Kneedler; the VACA was represented by William Person and Daniel Chichester, President and Past-President, respectively, and by Robert Horan, Chairman of the Legislation Committee
The compromise version of S. B. 258 passed the House Courts of Justice Committee with an amendment to the evidence section by Delegate Robrecht. Before the House that amendment was defeated and replaced by a more specific one sponsored by Delegate Theodore Morrison; the deletion of the section on spousal rape was the only other change to the compromise bill. S. B. 258 passed the House by a vote of 98-1 on January 28. At this point the VACA withdrew its support of the bill because of the Morrison amendment, but the group did not fight its passage in the Senate. S. B. 258 was signed into law by Governor John Dalton in March of 1981 and went into effect on the first of July.
This collection includes Kneedler's correspondence, notes and memoranda; minutes, agenda and memoranda written by the Task Force members; audio cassette tapes of initial drafting sessions for the bill; correspondence from COSAR leaders; research papers written by Kneedler's assistants, and secondary material such as photocopies of case material; drafts of S. B. 291 and 258, as well as several alternatives; and newsclippings about the topic of rape and about the progress of the legislation through four sessions in the General Assembly.