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Judge lets AG defend Va. Tech in lawsuits

Judge lets AG defend Va. Tech in lawsuits
Virginia Tech students, faculty, staff and community members participate in a candle light vigil in memory of the 32 students and staff who died two shooting incidents on campus on April 17, 2007. A judge recently said that the Virginia Attorney General can defend Virginia Tech against two wrongful-death lawsuits relating to the shootings. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo

ROCKY MOUNT, Va., June 6 (UPI) -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli can defend Virginia Tech against two wrongful-death lawsuits connected to a 2007 massacre at the school, a judge says.

Bob Hall, who is representing the families of slain students Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde in $10 million lawsuits, sought to disqualify Cuccinelli and 200 assistants after the attorney general called his claims "baseless" and "outrageous."

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Special Justice William Alexander, sitting in Rocky Mount, said Friday there is "no rule or case law that would allow me to do this," The Roanoke Times reported.

Alexander did question Cuccinelli's posting of just one of hundreds of discovery documents favoring the defense to his Web site in April.

He also told Assistant Attorney General Mike Melis that Cuccinelli "did insinuate a conspiracy" when he assailed a federal Education Department fine against the university while denouncing the plaintiffs in the same news conference.

"I see troubling signs of bad faith on the part of Virginia Tech's detractors," Cuccinelli had said.

GALLERY: Remembering the Virginia Tech Tragedy

Melis said his boss was not accusing the plaintiffs of collusion.

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A civil jury trial is set to start Sept. 29 for Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and former Executive Vice President James Hyatt, accused of mishandling the April 16, 2007, rampage by Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and wounded others before committing suicide.

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