A Circuit Court judge has granted a motion on behalf of Scott Smith to remove Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from prosecuting him on the charge of disorderly conduct at a 2021 School Board meeting.
Judge James E. Plowman issued the order on Sept. 2, months after Biberaj and the Smiths’ attorney argued the recusal on May 2 and almost a year after the motion was first filed Oct. 22, 2021.
Smith is the father of a student who was sexually assaulted at her high school. He was subsequently arrested at a Loudoun County School Board meeting and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without force after tussling with deputies. He was there to speak out against the School Board for what he believed was a failure to protect his daughter and engaging in a cover-up of the incident.
Smith was found guilty in District Court and is appealing the conviction.
Bill Stanley, attorney for the Smith family, argued during the May hearing that chief Loudoun prosecutor Biberaj was inherently biased against Smith, which interfered with Smith’s right to a fair trial.
In his order, Plowman wrote that there was insufficient information “to determine whether or not a direct conflict exists that would mandate removal.”
However, he wrote, “the position as articulated by counsel for the Defendant during oral argument is persuasive. The concerns about the public confidence in the integrity of the prosecution as well as the Defendant’s concerns regarding the impartiality of the Commonwealth’s Attorney are sufficiently grounded. As a result, the integrity of the Defendant’s due process rights is in jeopardy and must be protected.”
Plowman appointed Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen to replace Biberaj.
It is the second time Plowman has removed Biberaj from a case. In June, he disqualified the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s attorney’s office from prosecuting charges against a burglary suspect after ruling that misrepresentations in a plea agreement that had been made in the case. Biberaj criticized that action as judicial overreach and appealed it to the state Supreme Court.
Biberaj did not immediately respond to a request for comment left with her office’s media relations spokesperson.
“All that Scott Smith and his family have ever asked for is that the Loudoun County school system protect their daughter and treat them fairly; it has not. All that Scott Smith ever wanted to do at the school board meeting that night was to have its members be honest about what had happened to his daughter, and to have them protect all of their students from misguided policies that unfairly put his daughter in danger; they did not. And, all that Scott Smith has ever wanted was to be treated fairly under the law by Loudoun’s Commonwealth’s Attorney in dealing with the unjust charges placed against him; and she has not,” Stanley wrote in a press release. He accused Biberaj of choosing “politics over truth, impartiality, and justice.”
“A fair system of criminal justice that is void of both bias and political agendas is the cornerstone of a free society. From the beginning, Ms. Biberaj has sought to make an example of me for simply standing up to defend my daughter at the now infamous Loudoun County School Board meeting,” Smith said in the press release. He said Biberaj “has continued to fan the flames of those who would label parents like me who stand in protection of their kids against dangerous school policies as being ‘domestic terrorists.’”
During the May 2 hearing, the Circuit Court dismissed the obstruction of justice charge, one of the two charges against Smith. The remaining charge of disorderly conduct has not yet been set for trial.