Circuit Court Judge Jeanette A. Irby today set an Oct. 5 hearing date for attorneys to present their arguments in the recall petition filed against School Board member Beth Barts (Leesburg).
A removal petition was filed against Barts on Aug. 25, signed by 1,860 registered Leesburg voters,alleging she violated the guidelines for elected officials in Loudoun.
During a brief hearing Wednesday afternoon, Irby denied a motion by Bart’s attorney Charlie King seeking to have the local judges recused themselves from the case and to have state Supreme Court appoint one from another jurisdiction.
During the first court hearing on Monday,Judge Stephen E. Sincavage announced he would recuse himself from the case, citing having children in the school system as his reason.
Irby said she would not recuse herself from the case. She said that she does not know any School Board members and that she does not have any children who have attended Loudoun County schools. She said that granting such a motion might encourage judge shopping in the future. In his argument, King referenced previous instances of local judges stepping aside, including the unsuccessful removal case against then-county supervisor Eugene Delgaudio when the entire panel of Circuit Court judges recused themselves.
“My concern isn’t about the quality of the verdict, it’s about the perception of the public,” King said. “I think it is generally a better practice, when the witnesses are going to involve elected local officials or candidates for office, involving election issues, that the matter be considered by a court outside of the community. That way, the public will not have reason to have a question about the verdict.”
King said witnesses in the case would likely be other School Board members, members of the Board of Supervisors, and the superintendent of schools.
David Warrington, the attorney representing the petitioners, will argue a motion for Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj to recuse herself from the case. Fight for Schools, the group that spearheaded the removal effort against six School Board members, claims Biberaj has a conflict of interest in the case, because she was involved in the private Facebook group where Barts’ allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior.
King also submitted motion to void the pleadings filed on behalf of the Citizens of Leesburg by Michael D. Biron, because he is not an attorney.
All motions to be considered for the hearing must be filed by both parties no later than Sept. 27.