Letter: Bill Drennan, South Riding

Editor: The initiative to recall Loudoun County School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg) has progressed from concerned citizens gathering signatures on petitions to judicial proceedings in Loudoun County Circuit Court. Ms. Barts was ordered to appear in court last Monday to “show cause” why she should not be removed. The hearing was largely procedural, and was continued until Wednesday, Sept. 15. The only substantive step was that the presiding judge, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Stephen E. Sincavage, recused himself. His reason? He has kids in Loudoun County Public Schools.

In recusing himself, the judge removed the possibility of even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Judge Sincavage has done the right—the honorable—thing. And in so doing, he has set an example that the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Buta Biberajmust follow if the citizens of Loudoun County are to be afforded equal justice under the law. Ms. Biberaj’s continuing to prosecute the case entails more than the appearance of a conflict of interest—it reeks of an actual, documented, conflict of interest.

Consider:

– Like Ms. Barts, she was (is she still?) a member of the Facebook group that campaigned behind what its members thought was a wall of internet anonymity to disparage, target, cancel and “dox” parents who dared voice disapproval of Ms. Barts’ conduct and policy proposals as a member of the School Board.

– Ms. Biberaj’s participation in actions that led, in part, to the Barts recall has generated a parallel effort to recall her from the Commonwealth Attorney position.

– Her conflict of interest is substantive and obvious. She can either prosecute the Barts case vigorously, but in so doing, damage her prospects in her own recall case. Or she can move to dismiss the Barts case, thereby hoping to establish a precedent against the recall effort seeking her own removal.

She is inescapably conflicted. It’s as if the driver of the get-away car is in charge of prosecuting the bank robbers.

Ms. Biberaj should do the honorable thing and recuse. If she won’t, she must be removed and replaced withan independent, non-partisan prosecutor who will follow the evidence, prosecute the case with all appropriate vigor, and in so doing, demonstrate to the public that—whatever the result—justice was administered fairly and free of conflict.

Bill Drennan, South Riding

7 thoughts on “Letter: Bill Drennan, South Riding

  • 2021-09-15 at 1:00 pm
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    This doesn’t make any sense. This isn’t a criminal case. There’s no “prosecutor” involved.

    Agree the judge should recuse. The false equivalency to Biberaj is just a red herring.

    • 2021-09-15 at 6:45 pm
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      You do not understand some basics…

      By being a member of that Facebook group Ms. Biberaj had access to various posts. Use of that knowledge could cause a mistrial, should any criminal elements be added to the case. The fact that people in the group openly called for harassment, doxxing, and DDoS attacks among its members puts the possibility of criminal charges, as does Ms. Barts’s active participation.

      What criminal elements? The violation of civil rights.

      The author is correct. Ms. Biberaj absolutely must recuse herself to avoid violating 4th and 5th Amendment protections, or even just the appearance thereof.

  • 2021-09-15 at 3:09 pm
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    The writer makes some good points. But we also must beware of the heckler’s veto. We can’t have folks simply organize a petition drive against an official, then have other folks use it as an excuse to remove the official from a case. I’m not saying that’s what happening here. But the potential for abuse is very real. I look forward to hearing what Ms. Biberaj has to say about her possible disqualification before rendering an informed opinion.

  • 2021-09-15 at 4:27 pm
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    The judge ruled today there is no justification for further recusal and the case will move forward with an October 5th hearing. (approximately 4 hours reserved for motions and responses). As a former two term school board member the expectations of how school board members are to function are pretty straight forward and normally well understood by board members assuming the current general counsel did similar instructions as we received. 🙂

  • 2021-09-15 at 5:50 pm
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    Mr. Drennan is the best political reporter and writer in Loudoun County wonder why nether Loudoun Now or the Loudoun Times Mirror have not asked him to at least do a weekly column.

  • 2021-09-16 at 8:44 pm
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    Hey Bob O, have you ever served on the School Board? I think I may have read that some place?

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