Temporary injunction granted - Lee removal blocked
Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Moore issued a six month temporary injunction against removing the Lee monument finding ”the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits.” He differed with and declined to follow the Danville case, which had held the law was not retroactive to monuments erected before a 1997 amendment.
The judge allowed the city to go forward with a contest on renaming parks and planning to reconfigure them, because “that can all be undone.”
The judge had carefully read voluminous pleadings and briefs beforehand, and then presided over a six hour hearing in which seven witnesses testified. The judge retired to his chambers, reflected on the evidence and arguments, and returned to rule from the bench. His decision was precise, thoughtful, and enjoined only what needed to be stopped immediately. One experienced and prominent lawyer called the judge's carefully tailored ruling "unassailable."
Councilor Szakos persists in her view that the city should remove Lee, and asserted in the newspaper that City Council need only wait six more months until the injunction expires. She errs: the judge ruled at least initially removing Lee is illegal; he might later change his mind but it seems unlikely.
The lawyers meet in June to set a hearing on the Defendants’ demurrer (their attempt to get the case dismissed). The judge’s decision and his comments on their demurrer however, indicate that for the most part the demurrer will fail. The Defendants might successfully challenge some ancillary aspects of the Plaintiff's case but a dismissal is unlikely. On the main issue, we are winning.
This is only the beginning of a lengthy judicial process. But it has been a very good beginning.