Judge rules in favor of Dumler, throws out petition

Scottsville district representative Chris Dumler will remain on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Photo: Elli Williams Scottsville district representative Chris Dumler will remain on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Photo: Elli Williams

Chris Dumler will remain on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, he announced Friday, after Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins threw out a petition that would have removed the embattled Scottsville representative from office.

“It’s a matter of the law,” Dumler said outside the courthouse. “We don’t rely on activist judges to remove people from office just because we dislike someone or disagree with them politically.”

Dumler said it’s important for him to continue doing his job, because Albemarle County is going through a critical time, and noted the Comprehensive Plan, budgets, and upcoming state and federal mandates.

“The judge got it right,” said defense attorney Jessica Phillips once the crowd of protesters outside the courtroom had dispersed. “It was a legal question, not a political one.”

Dumler pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery in January 2013, following an October arrest on the charge of forcible sodomy, a felony. Scottsville resident Earl Smith circulated a petition to have Dumler removed from office, and after the County Voter Registration and Elections office confirmed the signatures of 470 registered voters, the petition was put in front of Higgins.

Smith said he was surprised by the ruling, but feels that getting the petition in front of the judge was a victory in itself.

“The almost 600 people that came out and signed the petition, they stood up for something they believed in,” Smith said. “I support Judge Higgins. If she felt there wasn’t enough evidence, obviously that’s the way she interpreted it.”

Others didn’t agree. Jamie Morgan, a Charlottesville resident who has actively protested Dumler’s position on the Board since his plea bargain in January, followed the supervisor and his attorney through the street after the hearing, yelling “Rapist! Rapist!”

“I feel like we’ve completely lost,” Morgan said. “And even if Dumler had resigned, that’s not a stopping point. We just need to fix the system that allowed this to happen in the first place. He should not have been given a plea deal.”

Morgan said she plans to continue attending Board of Supervisor meetings and speaking against Dumler’s refusal to resign.

“People need to be told that what they’re doing is wrong,” she said. “He needs to learn to hear the word ‘no.’”

Dumler said he’s more than willing to work with his fellow Board members, and said he’s disappointed in the hypocrisy of his opponents.

“[T]he conservative and tea party elements behind this petition were allowed to waste such a significant amount of taxpayer money and valuable court resources on such an obviously frivolous lawsuit,” he said. “For a group of individuals who purport to hold in such high regard the principle of ‘efficient use of taxpayer dollars’ and in such disregard the notion of “activist judges,” they sure wasted a lot of taxpayer money pursuing a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to circumvent the electoral process.”

 

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