On October 16th, a three-judge panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals upheld a Faquier County trial judge’s determination that mandatory minimum sentences in child pornography cases could be run concurrently. In this case, the defendant took six photographs in a period of two minutes, and was charged with six counts of production of child pornography. A first offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six years. The prosecutor asked the judge to impose the six six-year sentences back-to-back for a total of thirty-six years. The defendant requested that six sentences be served concurrently, or at the same time. The trial judge determined that the six photographs were essentially part of the same act, and imposed the sentences concurrently as the defendant requested. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing that the court had no authority to run mandatory minimum sentences concurrently. The three-judge panel disagreed with the prosecutor and unanimously upheld the trial judge. The Court held that many mandatory minimum statutes contain language prohibiting trial judges from running mandatory minimum sentences concurrently, and that since this statute lacked such language, rules of statutory construction required the Court to conclude that concurrent sentences were permitted by the child pornography statute. In doing so, the Court distinguished Bullock v. Commonwealth, 48 Va. App. 359 (2006), in which the Court of Appeals held that mandatory minimum convictions for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony could not be run concurrently even though that statute lacked the language prohibiting concurrent sentences. The Court wrote supportively of the holding in Bullock, but it is logically difficult to see how the statute at issue in Bullock compelled the result in Bullock while the statute in this case compelled a different conclusion. There is nothing in the firearm statute to prohibit a trial court from running two firearm convictions concurrently, but the Court of Appeals reached that conclusion in Bullock nonetheless. The Court of Appeals concluded that the stare decisis principle did not apply from Bullock to this new case because they were factually dissimilar, but it does not seem that the Court of Appeals gave full play to the aspect of stare decisis that requires appellate courts not only to respect prior holdings in factually similar cases, but to also apply the ratio decendi (reasoning of the decision) to subsequent cases as well. This case creates some tension in the law and it would seem that this case is a good candidate for review by the Virginia Supreme Court to clarify the issue.