- Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 December 2009 16:54
- Published on Wednesday, 30 December 2009 16:54
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Last Wednesday’s hearings on the Ripol, Boyden and Hall complaints against Westmoreland County’s local government had to be postponed with substitute Judge Jay T. Swett.
Swett was unable to travel as a result of heavy snow accumulations in the Charlottesville area where he resides.
In a surprise move, the judge arranged a teleconference late last Tuesday afternoon that included all the attorneys associated with the set of claims against the county government. One day later, March 29 and 30 trial dates were established in the Westmoreland County Circuit Court.
Judge Swett and all the attorneys held an hour-long conference call on Dec. 22 and issues previously scheduled for hearing on Dec. 23 were discussed in the same manner as they would have been entertained had the parties met in Circuit Court to conduct the hearings on Dec. 23. On the issue of the Freedom of Information Act suit filed six months earlier, Judge Swett denied all of the county’s and Industrial Development Authority’s motions to dismiss the complaint(s).
The judge ordered that the issue go to trial. Prior to trial, a discovery phase will include sworn depositions from county officials named as defendants in the suit.
Attorneys representing the county government declined to proceed with a demurrer that would have asked the court to dismiss the claims against the local government. It had become understood that proceeding with a demurrer would stand as an admission that the petitioners’ claims were correct and true.
In the matter of a second petition in which O’Gara establishment neighbors and nearby property owners asked the Circuit Court to provide immediate injunctive relief, attorneys representing the local government argued that the citizen petitioners lack the standing to seek intervention from the court.
The judge made it known that he will take evidence before that matter goes to trial.
On Dec. 23 the Westmoreland Circuit Court established March 29 and 30 as the trial dates. A delay was needed in order to accommodate Richard Stuart’s General Assembly conflicts. Senator Stuart is the O’Gara establishment’s attorney and O’Gara Group has been named as a party of interest in the suits against the county government.