Charlottesville Judge Rules City Councilors Immune from Confederate Statue Lawsuit
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville city councilors who had voted to remove a pair of Confederate statues from two downtown parks are now individually immune from an ongoing lawsuit over the future of those statues.
Both parties involved in the lawsuit were notified by Judge Richard Moore on Monday, July 8, about his decision.
He ruled that the 2017 city councilors did not commit gross negligence, nor did they make any unauthorized appropriations with respect to the statues.
Judge Moore says the standard for gross negligence is someone not showing minimum care or virtually any care at all.
Still, Judge Moore believes councilors didn't show much care in their decision to remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson but he adds that it didn't reach the level of gross negligence.
That means under state code, councilors are granted statutory immunity in their official government roles.
“The city of Charlottesville felt like the members of City Council in 2017 were making a vote in good conscience about what they thought was appropriate,” Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville’s communications director, said.
Although Judge Moore dismissed the 2017 councilors from the lawsuit, he added "the better part of wisdom would have been for them to wait," due to legal advice they had at the time.
The city will head back to court on Wednesday, July 10, to get an update on the case from the judge's perspective.
A trial in September will handle remaining issues about legal fees and other outstanding business.