Judge denied motion for sanctions against Bragg and counter-motion for sanctions against county
Rappahannock County resident Marian Bragg and her attorney David Konick appeared in Rappahannock Circuit Court on Tuesday (May 30) to argue that a motion for sanctions filed against Bragg by the county should be denied.
Current County Attorney Art Goff and former County Attorney Peter Luke argued that Bragg’s counter-motion for sanctions also be denied.
Judge Alfred D. Swersky, a substitute judge in Rappahannock’s 20th Judicial Circuit, appeared to satisfy all by denying both motions from both parties, calling the proceeding akin to a “domestic relations suit.”
This was the latest salvo in a petition filed last September declaring that certain actions taken by the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act during the closed portion of several supervisor meetings last summer and fall. Swersky dismissed the petition on March 15 and denied the motion to reconsider the petition in an opinion letter issued April 11.
Subsequently, the county renewed their motion for sanctions to request payment of fees for 30-plus hours of time spent on the case by Goff and Luke, accusing Bragg of not seeking an expedited hearing in September.
Bragg filed a contingent counter-motion for sanctions claiming the county’s motion was improper.
In his ruling, Swersky found that the county had not satisfied two of the three required findings for imposition of sanctions under Virginia Code §8.01-271.1: (1) the County had not shown that the scheduling of the original hearing last October 6th was not based on a reasonable interpretation of the statute, or one that was not warranted by a reasonable argument under existing law or for the extension or modification of existing law; and (2) that there was no showing of any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.