Shenandoah County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Black will recuse himself from hearing a petition to remove Strasburg Mayor Richard Orndorff Jr. from office.
Black made the decision after looking over just the first page of signatures on the petition.
“On the first page I see former clients, two petitioners, just looking at one page, who are former clients,” Black said during a hearing in Circuit Court on Thursday.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Amanda Drumheller Strecky replied some of those signatures may be called into question.
Orndorff’s attorney Phillip Griffin II agreed it may be an issue.
Black said he would file the motion for recusal. That would result in the 26th Judicial District Chief Judge Bruce Albertson appointing another judge to the case.
The appointed judge would probably then have to address arguments raised by Griffin and Orndorff that the petition is not valid and should be dismissed. One argument Griffin expects to raise is did not follow a number of required procedures, such as a lack of certification. If enough signature are invalidated, the number may fall short of what the law requires before the mayor can be removed from office.
After the hearing, Orndorff said the petition and efforts to remove him have been disheartening.
“I am still serving. I am still doing my job as mayor representing the people of Strasburg,” Orndorff said
He said the proceedings take his time from his regular duties.
“For them to want something as serious as removal from office, it would be important for them to follow proper procedures, time frame and for them to be here,” Orndorff said.
There were no petitioners at the hearing.
Griffin also spoke after the hearing
“Both the mayor and I appreciate the judge’s order,” Griffin said.