State Supreme Court sides with ‘Gloucester 40’

by Quinton Sheppard and Kim Robins - Posted on Mar 09, 2011 - 05:12 PM

Photo: Ware District voter Linda Meredith showed up at the Gloucester Post Office on a Monday afternoon in August 2008 to sign recall petitions. Also shown, from left, are Brenda Johnson, Patricia Cowan, Carl Cowan and Jack Chirch. Photo by Quinton Sheppard.

Ware District voter Linda Meredith showed up at the Gloucester Post Office on a Monday afternoon in August 2008 to sign recall petitions. Also shown, from left, are Brenda Johnson, Patricia Cowan, Carl Cowan and Jack Chirch. Photo by Quinton Sheppard.

In a decision Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court sided with the 40 Gloucester residents who were sanctioned $80,000 for organizing petitions to oust four Gloucester County supervisors from office in 2008.

Members of the "Gloucester 40" had appealed to Virginia’s high court regarding the sanctions levied against them by visiting Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker.

The decision voids Parker’s order that the 40 petitioners pay $2,000 each toward defendants’ costs in the unsuccessful petition drive.

In the case of Garr N. Johnson, et al, vs. Gregory Woodard, et al, Justice Leroy F. Millette Jr. declared in his opinion that the 40 residents who collected the necessary signatures to move the recall effort forward were not parties to the removal action and therefore Parker erred in imposing sanctions.

"The petitioners assert that the only parties to the removal action are the Commonwealth, as the moving party, and the supervisors, as responding parties," Millette wrote in his opinion. "Therefore, the petitioners conclude that the circuit court erred in imposing sanctions against them. We agree with the petitioners on this issue."