Court reinstates progressive prosecutor to case after dissatisfied judge orders ouster of entire office
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Virginia’s top court has reinstated a progressive prosecutor to a burglary case following the ouster of her entire office from the matter by a judge dissatisfied with a plea deal.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Judge James E. Plowman Jr. did not give Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj or her office adequate notice or an opportunity to be heard.
The plea deal had called for six months in jail and restitution to burglarized businesses by the burglary defendant, Kevin Enrique Valle. Plowman disqualified Biberaj’s office in the case because he thought that representations in the prosecution’s proffer of facts were misleading and inaccurate, according to his June 13 order.
Plowman said the assertion that the charges relate to burglaries that all happened over a matter of hours was true, but prosecutors failed to disclose that Valle is accused in a spree across four counties in 10 days that involved possibly 12 burglaries.
Plowman also said the assertion that Valle had no prior adult or felony convictions was technically true, but it “sanitized the facts” by failing to disclose numerous pending adult felony matters and juvenile convictions that would be a felony if committed by an adult.
Plowman was the commonwealth attorney before he became a judge in 2019.
Biberaj told the Washington Post that the decision “fully vindicates what we did in that case.” She said the Virginia State Bar had dismissed an ethics complaint against her stemming from the Valle matter.
A lawyer for Biberaj, Victor M. Glasberg, called the decision “an important success vindicating due process rights and a progressive prosecutor elected by Loudoun County voters,” according to the Washington Post.