Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman recused Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from prosecuting a criminal case against Scott Smith, a parent who faces a disorderly conduct charge after being arrested at a June 2021 Loudoun County School Board meeting.
While Plowman disagreed with Smith’s defense’s argument that there was a conflict of interest mandating removal of Biberaj, he granted the motion to recuse her and wrote in an order, “The concerns about the public confidence in the integrity of the prosecution as well as the Defendant’s concerns regarding the impartiality of the Commonwealth’s Attorney are sufficiently grounded.”
In May 2021, one of Smith’s children was allegedly assaulted on school property; the school board’s handling of that situation has generated frustration among Republicans and a grand jury investigation. A month later, Smith was arrested at a rowdy school board meeting where officials seemed to deny the existence of assaults in district bathrooms and locker rooms. He faced an obstruction of justice charge and a disorderly conduct charge.
In May 2022, Smith and his attorney State Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) announced that a court had dropped the obstruction charge. In May, Stanley also argued that Biberaj should be recused; Plowman’s September 2 order grants the recusal and appoints Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen to take over the criminal case.
Biberaj is disliked by Republicans for her progressive prosecutorial stance and her recusal is a win for those concerned more broadly about Democratic policy in Loudoun County. Olsen is a Republican with over a decade in the role; in 2019 he said the top issues in his district were gun violence, an increasingly complex criminal justice system, and a need to protect victims’ rights, according to Potomac Local News. This is the second time Plowman has recused Biberaj from a case, according to Loudoun Now.
In a Monday press release, Stanley said, “[A]ll that Scott Smith has ever wanted was to be treated fairly under the law by Loudoun’s Commonwealth’s Attorney in dealing with the unjust charges placed against him; and she has not. Instead, Ms. Biberaj chose politics over truth, impartiality, and justice. The Court’s Order today has corrected, in some measure, the injustice created by Ms. Biberaj’s bias against Mr. Smith, and the Court has restored his hope for a fair trial on the remaining charge against him in his quest to protect his beloved daughter. We are very grateful for the Court’s ruling.”
Smith said, “From the beginning, Ms. Biberaj has sought to make an example of me for simply standing up to defend my daughter at the now infamous Loudoun County School Board meeting. Buta Biberaj has demonstrated a bias against me throughout the court proceedings, and she has continued to fan the flames of those who would label parents like me who stand in protection of their kids against dangerous school policies as being ‘domestic terrorists.’ Nothing could be further from the truth, for I am just like every other parent who loves their children and who will always protect them from harm, no matter where that harm comes from.”
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