Judge Named To Case

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, April 25, 2013

CUMBERLAND – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia Cynthia D. Kinser has designated a judge to preside in the case of the citizens of the 5th District of Cumberland County versus Cumberland Board of Supervisor Parker Wheeler, District Five.

The Honorable Daniel T. Balfour, retired judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit, was designated by Kinser on April 11.

A new judge had to be appointed over the case after Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court Leslie M. Osborn submitted an order of judicial disqualification, recusing the judges of the Tenth Circuit Court, of which Cumberland is a part, from the case.

Email newsletter signup

The Supreme Court's designation of Judge Balfour is the next step in response to a petition filed in the circuit court, requesting the removal of Wheeler from his office as supervisor.

The complaint filed against Wheeler included a total of 73 qualifying signatures from Fifth District citizens, which were verified by General Registrar Marlene Watson. The minimum number of signatures needed was 43, according to calculations completed by Watson based on the Virginia Code requirement.

Three reasons for requesting the removal of Wheeler were included on the petition signed by District Five citizens: “neglect of duty,” “incompetence of the performance of duties has material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office” and “violation of the Code of Conduct for a Cumberland County Board of Supervisor.”

A portion of the complaint is in connection to allegations of unpaid federal taxes brought against Wheeler by Cumberland citizens from within and without his district.

The board's Standards of Conduct states that all board members shall, “pay all taxes due to the County, State, or National Government.”

In a statement made during the March 12 board of supervisor meeting, Wheeler attributed the unpaid taxes, and subsequent lien, to an accountant's oversight.

Wheeler explained that after switching to a new accountant, all taxes were up to date by the spring of 2012. He has worked with the government to plan his payment of the remaining back-taxes, Wheeler stated.

Unless the judge dismisses the case for procedural reasons, it is likely his next step will be to set a date for a hearing.

Once a petition is submitted, the code lists specific reasons for the removal of an elected official by the court. While “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence” are listed as reasons, such actions must have had a “material adverse effect” upon the conduct of the office.

Virginia Code also outlines that if the case is dismissed in favor of Wheeler, the court may require Cumberland County to pay court costs or reasonable attorney fees, or both, for Wheeler.

Those who circulated or signed the petition will not be liable to pay any costs in relation to the case, according to Virginia Code.