Court Clerk's Office Flooded with Calls, Messages Over Lee Statue Lawsuit
Thousands of messages are pouring into Charlottesville Circuit Court about the lawsuit to block the city from taking down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Thousands of messages are pouring into Charlottesville Circuit Court about the lawsuit to block the city from taking down the statue of a Confederate general.
The messages are coming in from around the country, asking Judge Richard Moore to side with the city's case. However, the judge may never see them.
“The rules of evidence say the only thing the judge will hear during the court hearing is whatever the parties bring forward as evidence,” Charlottesville Circuit Court Clerk Llezelle Dugger explained.
Attorneys in the coming weeks are expected to argue over the city's request to throw out a lawsuit over Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove the Lee statue.
Two groups - the Monument Fund, Inc. and the Virginia Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. – and 11 individuals - Frederick W. Payne, John Bosley Yellott Jr., Edward D. Tayloe II, Betty Jane Franklin Phillips, Edward Bergen Fry, Virginia C. Amiss, Stefanie Marshall, Charles L. Weber Jr., Lloyd Thomas Smith Jr., Anthony M. Griffin, and Britton Franklin Earnest Sr. – filed their lawsuit on Monday, March 20. The lawsuit sought a temporary injunction, asking the court to stop the city from removing the statue from Emancipation Park.
The lawsuit claims that the city cannot remove the statue because it violates a state law that prohibits removing monuments or memorials to war veterans.
Judge Moore sided with the plaintiffs in May, granting a six month injunction.
Dugger’s email inbox currently has more than 1,200 messages, and her office has so far received about 900 voicemail messages. The court clerk said nearly all of them follow a template posted on the website Daily Kos in the days after the Unite the Right rally and deadly car attack in the area of 4th Street.
The website listed calling Judge Moore as one way to support Charlottesville in the lawsuit.
The judge can only consider the law and what he hears in the courtroom, but that's not stopping people from all around the country from having their say on this case.
Dugger is keeping a file full of letters and postcards mailed to the courthouse: “Whoever sends stuff to us, we will collect those letters. So, if they feel that strongly about this, please do. But understand it's going to be collected in my office in our court house, it'll be made available to the attorneys. But, I would never want to discourage the civil engagement,” she said.
Dugger said she's informed the city attorney, attorneys representing the individuals, and groups who support keeping the statue about all these messages.
The clerk said they can review the messages at any time: “It's going to be the attorneys' call whether or what they use in the hearing on September 1st or any subsequent hearings that come for this case.”
With all the attention focused on this case, the court moved the date in order to hold the hearing in the larger courtroom. Charlottesville Circuit Court is now scheduled to hear the attorneys’ arguments on September 1.