Today’s scheduled hearing for my FOIA related petition in the Norfolk Circuit Court was promptly met with the judge recusing himself. Judge Louis Sherman stated he knew almost everyone I mentioned in my filing, “but I don’t know you”, and thus recused himself.
When I reminded the judge that the law requires I have a hearing within seven days of filing the case, he looked up from the recusal motion he was filling out and said, “except when a judge recuses himself”.
Now, the petition will be circulated among the remaining Norfolk Circuit Court judges, to see if any will hear the case. If none will, the Virginia Supreme Court will need to appoint an out-of-town judge to hear it.
If every judge within a political subdivision, such as Norfolk, claimed such knowledge of the players in a case, where the political subdivision itself is the defendant/respondent, it could frequently prevent the spirit of the seven-day rule from being attained. With such a potential dynamic impacting a petitioner’s right to hearing within seven days, it may be prudent to propose legislation that automatically requires an out-of-town judge in these situations to ensure the spirit of the law is followed. I will add that to the list of reforms I have already started making for the Virginia Freedom Of Information Act.
Let’s see what the remaining Norfolk judges have to say.