Hearing continued for school board members’ recall

Published 4:00 pm Monday, July 8, 2013

ISLE OF WIGHT—Monday’s hearing on a petition to have Herb DeGroft removed from the Isle of Wight County School Board has been continued. Judge Carl Eason has set the new date for 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court.

The decision came after a joint motion from both Susan Walton, assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Suffolk, and Bill Nexsen, attorney for DeGroft. Walton said she’s still in the process of putting together a case, and did not feel confident to proceed. Further, the prosecution would have to share evidence with the other side.

Nexsen said he was only just retained last Wednesday, and has had no chance to interview anyone.

Eason asked if DeGroft wants a jury, but that was waived in favor of a bench trial.

The judge also asked if the number of signatures on the petition is an issue, but Nexsen said he couldn’t answer the question because there’s been no chance for him to investigate. Eason also reminded Walton that the burden falls on the Commonwealth to establish if the threshold of signatures has been met.

Since May 16, people in DeGroft’s Hardy District have been calling for his resignation when he was revealed to have privately circulated emails containing crude humor to other board members and county staff. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are the subjects of several of those emails.

Newport District Supervisor Byron “Buzz” Bailey has also been repeatedly called on to step down for his part in circulating the aforementioned emails. His hearing, which began last Friday, has been continued to 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court.

Both men have often apologized if anyone was offended by the emails. The two insist they’ve done nothing illegal and won’t resign. DeGroft, however, recently announced that he changed his mind about running for reelection. His term ends this year; Bailey’s term lasts through 2015.