A judge is expected to decide on Tuesday whether the counsel for those seeking to undo the Shenandoah County School Board's decision to rename Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School should pay for the board's legal fees in the case.
Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. said last week during a hearing on the motion held over Zoom that he will make a decision within seven days, after school board attorney Lindsay Brubaker argued for and plaintiff attorney Robert Vaughn argued against having the defendants’ legal fees covered by the plaintiff’s counsel.
The decision to impose the fees on the plaintiff’s counsel would also apply to attorney Brad Pollack, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. Pollack filed the petition and is a member of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors.
Brubaker is also seeking to have costs in the amount of $41,350 as of March 1 paid back to her firm by Vaughn and Pollack for time and effort her firm put toward litigating the case.
In dismissing the petition in March, Wetsel stated, in part, the petitioners didn’t qualify as “aggrieved” without a personal right, injury or burden directly violated by the School Board’s decision.
Brubaker argued during the hearing last week that Pollack’s intention in filing the petition was to delay the School Board’s renaming process in the belief that the renaming could not proceed while it was being handled in the court. Pollack never intended to actually pursue the petition, and the School Board’s attorneys spent time and resources arguing against it, Brubaker argued.
Vaughn, who argued for the plaintiff’s side with Pollack observing, stated the motion for sanctions was an attempt to bludgeon his side after already having the petition dismissed. It supported his argument made before the petition was dismissed that the School Board was asserting that nobody can be critical of its decision, and anyone who is will be punished, Vaughn said.
The petition statutorily had to be filed within 30 days, Vaughn also argued.
Two motions from Vaughn were dismissed by Wetsel during the hearing Tuesday: a cross-motion for sanctions that seeks to deny the first motion for sanctions and grant an opposing one; and a motion seeking a pause in the proceedings until the state Supreme Court settles Vaughn’s appeal of the petition dismissal.