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Judge makes early ruling in 'Taxpayer' Henry appeal

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- "Taxpayer Henry" won his day in court, but didn't show up to claim victory.

Dwight Henry, who refers to himself as "Taxpayer Henry," continues to fight the Town of Strasburg over utility bills he claims the locality unjustly charged. As Nathan H. Miller, the attorney representing Strasburg explained outside Shenandoah County Circuit Court Wednesday, Henry tried to argue the town could not legally charge him for trash collection if he did not use the service.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp concurred with Miller during a Wednesday hearing on motions filed by Henry, including one asking the court to dismiss the town's case, and ruled in favor of Strasburg. The defendant did not show for the hearing and Hupp expressed apprehension at taking action on any matters beyond Henry's motions without him present.

"Mr. Henry called me on numerous occasions and advised me he did not wish to move forward with the three motions and said 'I don't want want to cost the town any more legal fees' and I said that's fine," Miller told Hupp, referring to a message left on an office voicemail.

The judge acknowledged that while Henry may have expressed to Miller a desire to not move forward with the motions as filed, the defendant did not make those intentions known to the court.

Hupp denied Henry's motion to dismiss the town's case. The judge also discounted Henry's challenge of the constitutionality in its charging of the fees for utility services. Hupp ruled in favor of the town, saying he found the town had proper authority to collect the levies.

But the judge noted some evidenciary issues remain in the case.

Hupp set Henry's case for a jury trial Sept. 9 as the defendant had requested.

But Hupp also denied Miller's motion to issue sanctions against Henry that would limit his use of the courts.

"It's not designed to be a grandstand for the public," Miller argued.

Henry fought Strasburg over charges for utilities he felt unjust. The town took legal action and Judge Dale W. Houff in Shenandoah County General District Court in September ruled in favor of Strasburg. Houff ordered Henry to pay the town $798. Henry appealed the decision to the Circuit Court the following month -- at a price of $900 in civil bonds and $129 in other related costs.

Strasburg has since turned off Henry's water and sewer service and halted refuse collection, according to Miller.

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