The legal team for Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy is asking the court to throw out a removal petition against him.
Bellamy’s attorney, Pam Starsia, filed paperwork for a motion to demurrer in Charlottesville Circuit Court Tuesday, February 21. Starsia is asking a judge to dismiss the case, which seeks to have Bellamy removed from office.
Last Thursday, Unity and Security for America filed a petition calling for the vice mayor to be removed from his office. Unity and Security for America - a group that describes its mission as "dedicated to defending Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism" - claim Bellamy misused his office. They also claim Bellamy's posts to Twitter had an adverse effect on his elected office.
In November, blogger and Unity and Security for America member Jason Kessler posted a series of tweets Bellamy had made between 2009 and 2014. Many people have called the content of those tweets offensive and vulgar.
Kessler claims that his group collected at least 527 signatures, which he believes is enough to begin the recall process.
Starsia is arguing that the petition does not meet requirements under Virginia law to initiate a removal proceeding. Additionally, she believes the court can conclude Bellamy did not misuse his office since the tweets were posted before he was elected to Charlottesville City Council.
Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael R. Doucette has been appointed to serve after Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Warner Dave Chapman asked to be removed to avoid potential bias.
Doucette has filed a motion to continue the case to a later date. He says he received the paperwork in the case around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, thus not giving him sufficient time to prepare for a trial.
Doucette says he needs to interview Kessler, Charlottesville General Registrar Rosanna Bencoach, and potentially other witnesses. He will need to verify the number of signatures on Kessler petition, as well as confirm the total number of votes cast in the election.
Starsia is asking the court to dismiss the case without prejudice and award Bellamy attorney's fees and other court costs.
The first hearing in this case is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in Charlottesville Circuit Court.
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