On November 15, 2021, the Honorable Chief Judge Douglas L. Fleming, Jr., issued a Rule to Show Cause in the matter of “In Re: The Citizens of the Sterling District Petition this Honorable Court to Remove School Board Member and Chair Brenda Sheridan, who presently represents These same citizens in the Sterling District / Respondent: Brenda Sheridan.” The Fight for Schools Petition for Removal of Loudoun County School Board Member Brenda Sheridan is attached hereto and sets forth the allegations that are the bases of the civil action.
On November 23, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj appeared in person on behalf of the Citizens of the Sterling District, and Julia Judkins and Dawn Boyce, of Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, PC, appeared virtually as counsel for the Respondent, Brenda Sheridan (who also appeared virtually). Judge Douglas Fleming, Chief Judge of the Loudoun County Circuit Court, presided over the hearing. The matter was continued for further review to December 6, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the legal process to remove a public official is determined entirely by statute. Virginia Code Section 24.2-233 sets forth the rule of law that must be complied with for the matter to come before the court: the criteria for removal, the evidence required to meet the standard of proof, and the options available to the court. Biberaj stated that “As the petition was initiated and filed without consultation with our office, we need to ensure that there is strict compliance with the law. It is our duty, as the Commonwealth’s Attorney, to protect the participants and the process. We will review the entire process from the collection of signatures to the specific assertions, to the determination of whether the allegations of “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties” and the requirement that the impact have “a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office” have been met. Our first action will be to ask the court to direct the Loudoun County Office of Elections to certify, as required by Virginia Code Section 24.2-233, that the signatures affixed on the petitions are those of registered voters residing in the Sterling District of Loudoun County and make up at least 10% of the votes tallied from the 2019 elections. When and if so certified, then the matter of the petitions can proceed to an evaluation of the allegations and the facts that establish the same.”
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