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Outside the Courthouse

Bystanders react to the McDonnell verdict.



A bartender, a construction worker and an unspecified bureaucrat came to watch the McDonnell corruption trial reach its climax today with verdicts of their own.

None thought the former governor and first lady, accused of pushing Jonnie Williams’ diet supplement business in exchange for gifts, vacations and loans, had done anything differently than other politicians.

“I’m sorry he’s got to go through this, but that’s life,” says Earl Samuels, who left a downtown construction site to see the verdict announced outside the federal courthouse. “A lot of [politicians] abuse authority -- he just got caught.”

Jimmie Lee Jarvis, a bartender at Chili’s on Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus, says he walked to the courthouse from his apartment after hearing the verdict was nigh.

“I’m pretty surprised,” Jarvis says. “The laws are so gray and abstract. But no matter what, some of it must have felt sleazy.”

Bob McDonnell entered a car immediately upon exiting the courthouse. Jarvis says he watched supporters surround the vehicle shouting, “We still love you!” when McDonnell got in.

“I’m not sure why,” Jarvis says. “I guess that hair is still pretty inspiring.”

Julie, who works across the street from the courthouse, says she followed the trial “like a soap opera.” She declined to provide her last name or employer because she hadn’t taken off work to watch it unfold live.

Asked if she thought the verdict was fair, Julie says she isn’t sure. “It’s sad,” she says. “They’re good people who got caught up in the lifestyle.”

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