Attorneys for Loudoun County Public Schools parent Scott Smith are seeking to have the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office disqualified for the case as they appeal his conviction for disorderly conduct.
Smith was convicted of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice after wrestling with Sheriff’s Office deputies at a School Board meeting. He is appealing the convictions in Circuit Court.
The Smith family’s story was quickly elevated to national headlines—he had gone to the meeting to confront the School Board about his daughter’s rape in a high school, and the perpetrator who was transferred to a different school where he assaulted another girl.
It has also been used by Republican organizations to campaign and fundraise, and was one of the reasons the School Board found itself a target of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign. And Smith’s attorney, Franklin County Del. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-20), argued during a May 2 court hearing that the politically-charged atmosphere means Loudoun prosecutors, headed by a Democrat, should be disqualified and a special prosecutor appointed.
Stanley said the event Smith has become “a political poster child … for the parental rights movement.”
“This case remains politically charged in a way I’ve never seen,” Stanley said, arguing Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj and her office should be disqualified to avoid an appearance of impartiality. He said he also plans to file a Title IX federal lawsuit against the county in which Biberaj will be called as a witness.
Circuit Court Judge Jim Plowman further argued the point, questioning Biberaj on her decisions to handle both the Smith case and a previous case against Del. Dave LaRock (R-33rd) herself. Biberaj said those decisions came down to the limited resources in her office.
Biberaj said disqualifying her office from the case could set a precedent that any defendant could seek to have their local prosecutors disqualified.
“Everyone could come in and say, ‘they have animus toward us or a bias toward us because they’re prosecuting,’” Biberaj said. And she said regardless of the court’s ultimate decision, there will be people who are happy and people who are unhappy with it.
Plowman said he would take the motion under advisement and issue a written opinion.
Stanley withdrew an earlier motion seeking a change of venue.
One of the charges Smith appealed has already been dropped over unclear writing in the District Court’s decision. Plowman dismissed with prejudice—meaning the charge cannot be tried again—the conviction for obstruction of justice. Biberaj had asked him to send the matter back to the District Court for clarification; Plowman said he lacked the power to do so, and that he had no choice but to dismiss that charge due to the unclear writing in the decision and sentencing of District Court Judge Thomas J. Kelley, Jr., a retired judge who ruled on the case.