WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County taxpayers might have to pay for Mayor Richard Orndorff Jr.’s attorney fees after a judge granted a motion to stop the petition case to have him removed from office on Friday.
Amanda Wiseley, the commonwealth’s attorney for Shenandoah County, submitted the motion to non-suit, or stop the petition, on Friday, bringing the potential removal of Orndorff from office to a halt.
Phil Griffin II, Orndorff’s attorney, supported Wiseley’s motion, noting several missteps along the way of the petitioners that warranted the case being dismissed.
Both Griffin and Wiseley acknowledged issues with the language preceding the petitioners’ signatures, with Griffin arguing the petition was not signed under oath of perjury as the state statute requires.
Because the petitioners did not present the petition to the commonwealth’s attorney or deliver it to Orndorff, Griffin argued the timeline laid out in the statute of holding a hearing within five to 10 days was also violated.
Griffin also argued the number of signatures on the petition, roughly 102 according to a letter he sent to Wiseley, was not at least 10% of the number of votes cast in the 2016 election when Orndorff won his office.
Orndorff had to hire an attorney to confront this petition before he knew what the timeline was going to be, Griffin argued.
Griffin agreed the case should be non-suited but argued Orndorff’s legal fees should be reimbursed. Griffin used two cases similar to this petition case to support his argument that local elected officials should not have to pay out of their own pocket to defend themselves in a lawsuit against someone they represent.
Wiseley disagreed with Griffin’s motion, arguing Orndorff hired legal counsel “proactively.”
Judge Alexander Iden said the court was inclined to grant Griffin’s claim and set a deadline of Nov. 15 for Griffin to submit an affidavit of legal costs. Wiseley and the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office will have a chance to dispute the costs before the court ultimately decides on the figure.
After the session, Griffin said his client was “relieved this petition is dead and dismissed.”
Orndorff said he was “extremely grateful,” to his attorneys and said it was nice to be congratulated by Judge Iden on the case being resolved.