Oct. 5 Hearing Set for Barts Recall; Judge Denies Recusal Motion

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.  

7 thoughts on “Oct. 5 Hearing Set for Barts Recall; Judge Denies Recusal Motion

  • 2021-09-15 at 3:30 pm

    In my 15 years of haranguing LCPS, the one thing I learned is that the only people they actually care about are lawyers and judges. I really hope Barts is removed. If for nothing else, LCPS needs a good dose of natural consequences for their bad decisions. Their holier-than-thou attitude needs to get smacked back down to reality, and the removal of School Board member(s) would do the trick. They need to be harshly reminded that they are all public SERVANTS.

  • 2021-09-15 at 4:22 pm

    I personally attended this hearing and can state without hesitation that the editor captured the event with perfect accuracy. I hope the counsel for removal takes the suggestion by the judge regarding evidence able to be submitted for the October 5th hearing to heart. I can’t imagine ANY prior school board member who would not testify that prior to EVERY term the general counsel of LCPS instructed them NOT to meet – be in the room – comment on school board issues if there was any possibility of more than one other school member present. In law this is referred to as scienter which basically means school board members KNOW what they are not supposed to be doing and can’t hide behind some social media excuse or some other nobody told me BS! EVERY term this was emphasized and made clear. Even during school board meetings private conferences (out of the public eye) were enforced to be topic restricted (personnel or real estate). Excuses don’t pass the smell test because the public ha a right to hear first hand the view of their representative rather than be given some pre-prepared position set up from an activist board perspective. 🙂

    • 2021-09-16 at 6:54 pm

      Bob, these judges will not enforce the rules. I took a case to Loudoun court in 2015 where 2 SB members on a 3-person committee (a majority) were discussing school board issues openly after the recess of a meeting. The judge said “no violation” and wouldn’t explain her reasoning.

      The chances of Loudoun judges issuing a fair ruling involving any Loudoun official is nil to none. That said, Barts would not be removed even if there were unbiased judges. The recall statute doesn’t trigger removal absent practically criminal content. That didn’t happen.

  • 2021-09-15 at 5:57 pm

    This matter is moving at a snail’s pace. I’m looking forward to hearing what Buta Biberaj has to say about recusing herself. Numerous people are calling for that to happen. As a woman of color, she has a unique vantage point. Sooner or later she has to let the public know where she stands on that issue. Regardless of the outcome, I pray that Loudoun emerges as a stronger & more compassionate community. For the sake of the children & future generations.

  • 2021-09-16 at 5:01 am

    Baloney, parents busted the school system when they were forced to stay home because of Covid.
    Buta is not non partisan and she was part of the group that the sheriff said committed misdemeanors against those who were willing to speak out.
    It is a red flag when prayer, stronger, compassionate, children, and future generations are mentioned. Stay focused on the present and dismiss the hyperbole heartstring nonsense that muddies and deflects from the school board’s behavior!

  • 2021-09-20 at 8:53 pm

    Ah, the LCPS Clown Train chugging through Loudoun County again.

    We deserve better.

    Pathetic and embarrassing.

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