Judge may decide on petition dismissal

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ISLE OF WIGHT–Two questions come before Isle of Wight County Circuit Court today, July 17. First, will a motion be granted to dismiss, without prejudice, a recall petition against Herb DeGroft. He’s the county school board member representing the Hardy District. Second, will the petitioners be allowed to re-file with a qualifying number of signatures.

Judge Carl Eason is scheduled to hear the matter at 11 a.m.

State code requires that such documents must be signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters for the targeted officer in his district and in the most recent election, where DeGroft was put into office.

IOW NAACP President Dottie Harris said 206 names were needed, but only 201 signatures were valid.

This lack of certified names is evidently the reason the Commonwealth Attorney of Suffolk has filed to drop the matter. The Suffolk CA took the case because IOW CA Wayne Farmer had to recuse himself from the issue.

The basis for the CA being involved at all is found in this excerpt from Virginia State Code 24.2-337:

“The attorney for the Commonwealth shall represent the Commonwealth in any trial under this article. If the proceeding is against the attorney for the Commonwealth, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the Commonwealth. Any officer proceeded against shall have the right to demand a trial by jury.”

The petitioners are part of the Commonwealth, so an attorney will represent them.

Both Harris and Rosa Holmes-Turner, the team captain for the DeGroft petition, have said they intend to file the petition again with the necessary signatures.

DeGroft and Newport District Supervisor Byron “Buzz” Bailey are the targets of recall because they were revealed to have privately circulated emails containing crude humor. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were the subjects of several of the pages.

Fellow board members and county staff were recipients.

Harris was given a copy of the emails by IOW school board member Denise Tynes, who reportedly received them anonymously. The revelation of the emails and calls for both men to resign were made during a May 16 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Both DeGroft and Bailey, who is also facing a recall petition hearing on Monday, Aug. 12, have repeatedly apologized in word and print, but each has declined to resign. DeGroft, however, chose not to run for reelection this year. Bailey’s term doesn’t expire until 2015.