Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Burke F. McCahill, by requesting a recusal from the Eugene Delgaudio case Tuesday, has essentially put on hold the legal attempt to remove Mr. Delgaudio from office as Sterling's representative to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
It's now up to the Supreme Court of Virginia to assign a substitute judge to the case. Any action on the matter is at a standstill until the state's high court does so.
Mr. McCahill's decision comes a week after a group of Sterling residents, many of whom are part of the anti-Delgaudio group “Sterling Deserves Better,” filed a recall petition in the local circuit court to remove Mr. Delgaudio from the seat he's held for 15 years. The residents and their legal representative, attorney John Flannery, listed as reasons for Mr. Delgaudio's dismissal alleged “misuse of office” and “incompetence." The petitioners say Mr. Delgaudio's actions have negatively impacted the function of county government.
Tuesday, Mr. McCahill informed those present in a Loudoun County courthouse room -- including Mr. Delgaudio and his attorney Charles King; Nicole Wittmann, an assistant to the Loudoun County commonwealth's attorney; and Mr. Flannery -- that he has been in contact with officials at the state Supreme Court to let them know he'll be seeking a recusal for all Loudoun County Circuit Court judge.
After the 15-minute hearing, Mr. Flannery opined the state Supreme Court may act quickly, as soon as this week, in appointing a new judge.
The judge's action Tuesday leaves undetermined whether Loudoun Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman will be granted his own recusal in the case. It's expected, however, that Mr. Plowman, an elected official of the same political party as Mr. Delgaudio, will not be forced to serve as prosecutor in the case.
Mr. McCahill's primary objective at Tuesday's hearing, it appeared, was to get an estimate of how long a trial on the case may take; Mr. King suggested up to 10 days, while the other parties said roughly a week.
Through his attorney, Mr. Delgaudio expressed that he'd prefer a non-jury trial.
Mr. King clarified his comment after the hearing, however, saying, “When Judge McCahill asked if I was requesting a jury trial, I told him not at this time ... When asked again about a jury trial, I said a decision about a jury trial has not been made.”
“This case was only filed last week and the decision about whether to request trial by jury is one of the important decisions a litigant can make,” Mr. King said.
This story has been updated from an earlier version.