A circuit court judge in Virginia ordered the release August 23 of Brandon J. Raub, a Chesterfield man held involuntarily as a psychiatric patient at the Salem Veterans Affairs hospital in Virginia over anti-government postings on his Facebook page. Raub, a Marine combat veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was visited by FBI and Secret Service agents at his North Chesterfield home on August 16, then taken by police under an emergency custody order to John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. He was transferred to the veterans hospital on August 20. A medical assessment of his condition at John Randolph described him as paranoid and delusional, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. But after an hour-long hearing in Hopewell Circuit Court August 23, Judge W. Allan Sharrett dismissed an involuntary commitment petition as invalid.
"The petition is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy," said the release order signed by Sharrett, vacating the order of Special Justice Walter Douglas Stokes to detain Raub for 30 days. Stokes, who presides over commitment hearings, also ordered Raub's transfer to the VA hospital in Salem, about 180 miles from his home. Judge Sharrett said he was shocked to find the commitment order contained no grounds for holding Raub.
"This is phenomenal," Raub's mother, Cathleen Thomas said, hailing the news of the release. "This has never been about anything but freedom of speech," she said as she prepared to go to Salem to pick up her son. "We're going to continue to post on Facebook."
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