Bragg vs. supervisors vs. docket

After 25 minutes of argument regarding Bragg vs. the Board of Supervisors in circuit court last Thursday (Oct. 6), the case was postponed until the Monday after Thanksgiving.

“At that point, one side or the other will certainly be thankful,” said David Konick, the attorney representing Marian Bragg, the Sperryville llama farmer whose suit claims the supervisors violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act in its closed-door deliberations this summer and fall to hire a replacement for County Attorney Peter Luke.

Konick had spoken for more than 10 minutes (about last-minute changes to the petition and required notifications therefore not met by him) before retired 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alfred D. Swersky, in a relatively rare appearance in Rappahannock County as a substitute judge, interrupted.

“I want to know what you’re asking me to do,” Swersky said.

What Konick was asking, he said, and had requested two days earlier, was that the court simply remove the case from the day’s docket, in part because his client could not make the 10 a.m. hearing that day (“She works at a security agency of the United States government and she . . . has been called to a meeting” that “involves some national security issue,” Konick told the judge.)

Since he had made the request, and (as he told the judge) had immediately headed to the Delaware coast to retrieve his boat, threatened as it was by the approaching Hurricane Matthew, neither he nor his client had been aware that the defendant — the supervisors, represented in court Thursday by Luke and Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, hired by the county last month as Luke’s deputy — had objected to the change in docket.

Luke, at Swersky’s request, had gotten four minutes into his explanation when Swersky held up a hand and said, “Again, I don’t mean to interrupt, but what are you asking me to do?”

Dismiss the injunctive portion of the suit, Luke suggested, and possibly hear other arguments in the case today.

Judge Swersky heard another five minutes of argument before he decided to give both sides at least 21 days to have everything and everyone ready. The case was postponed to 9 a.m. Nov. 28.

Other court actions: DNA, DWI, assault

A Winchester man charged with breaking and entering and petty larceny was arraigned in Rappahannock County District Court last Tuesday (Oct. 4). According to the criminal complaint filed by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Romero, Derek Briggs Murray, 28, broke into the Hope Hill Baptist Church in Castleton on Sept. 16, 2015.

“Entry was gained through locked doors, and food items from within the church were consumed,” reads the complaint. “Remnants of those food items were left behind by the suspect(s) and subsequently tested for DNA.”

Comparison of the found sample of DNA to others at the Virginia DNA Data Bank “yielded a profile consistent with the accused.”

During the arraignment, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff told the court that he had agreed to drop the petit larceny charge, but was certifying the breaking and entering charge to the grand jury, which meets on Nov. 14.

Early on the morning of Oct. 1, RCSO Deputy R. M. McCormack was called to a motor vehicle accident at Lee Highway and Sperryville Pike in Sperryville. There, according to his written complaint, “I found James Wayland to be operating one of the vehicles involved in the crash.”

Wayland, 57, lives in Sperryville and was charged with a first offense of DWI. Though the complaint was made available by the district court, the sheriff’s office declined to provide the accident report or to identify either the other vehicle or its driver.

After McCormack detected the smell of alcohol, Wayland admitted that he had had four or five beers, but declined to take the standard sobriety test, stating “he was drunk and couldn’t pass them,” according to the complaint. A breath test indicated Wayland’s blood alcohol level to be .23 percent. The case was continued to Nov. 8.

Patricia Lynn Billing, 57, of Castleton was arraigned on one charge of assault and battery after allegedly kneeing a man in the groin. According to the criminal complaint filed by Gary L. Carter, on Sept. 8, Billing visited Larry’s Garage in Castleton, where “after a brief conversation, she became agitated and left the shop.”

The complaint further states that Carter “followed her and opened the door to see if she was driving because she appeared to have been drinking.” While Carter held the door open, Billing (according to Carter’s complaint) turned around and kneed him. The case was continued to Nov. 8.

— Patty Hardee

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