Motions Hearing in Statue Lawsuit Enters 2nd Day in Charlottesville Court
Charlottesville Circuit Court continues to hear new motions in a lawsuit over the city's statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A judge in Charlottesville Circuit Court continues to hear motions in a lawsuit over the city's statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
Judge Richard E. Moore and attorneys on both sides were back at it around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 15. They began this latest round of legal motions Monday, January 14, which had been the scheduled start time for the trial. Moore said he has never seen a case with this many motions.
Lawyers are battling over whether a jury can take up the case - defendants want a jury to hear the case, while the plaintiffs are attempting to have a bench trial - and if attorneys can submit a redacted list of their fees. Also argued Tuesday, the words “monument” and “statute,” and why they were erected in the early 1900’s.
"The reason is not unimportant" said Judge Moore, but added he needs to concentrate on what matters legally.
The plaintiffs' lawsuit stems from decisions made by Charlottesville City Council in 2017 to try and remove both statues of Lee and Jackson from Market Street and Court parks, respectively.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are Charlottesville, City Council, Mike Signer, Kathy Galvin, Wes Bellamy, Kristin Szakos, and Bob Fenwick.
The judge said he would reverse an earlier decision that had provided the members of City Council immunity from liability. As such, councilors listed in the lawsuit could personally pay "damages" or other fees related to the statues. This will not affect council's newest members: Mayor Nikuyah Walker and Vice Mayor Heather Hill.
Judge Moore indicated he would not make any decisions Tuesday, because he's still trying to get a legal letter out over immunity issues. The hearings are set to continue Wednesday, January 16.
A lot of the reason this is taking so long is so that each step of this case can be preserved, because any decision will undoubtedly be appealed.