ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) - A motion to dismiss the petition against Herbert De Groft without prejudice was filed in Isle of Wight Circuit Court Thursday.
Click here to read the petition removal request.
WAVY.com was first to report that De Groft, a school board member, has been under fire in his position after he forwarded inappropriate emails. One of the recipients was Byron Bailey, a supervisor for Isle of Wight County, who faces an August 12 hearing for removal from office for forwarding the same emails.
The Commonwealth's Attorney says the office is still investigating the case against Bailey. More than 300 people signed a petition calling for Bailey's removal.
A petition was also filed to remove DeGroft, but the motion to dismiss the Show Cause Order states there were not enough required signatures. A source told WAVY.com there were 201 signatures, and the State Code requires 10 percent of the votes cast in the last election for that seat, and that number is 206.
"When we get back the petition with the signatures, we will then take the petition around again and get more signatures. We will then re-file our petition to remove Mr. De Groft from office, and begin the process again," said IOW NAACP leader Dottie Harris. "This is only a temporary set back, and we will move forward because you cannot send around these type emails when you are an elected public official."
DeGroft recently announced he will not seek re-election in November. Harris has said that does not matter and De Groft needs to leave office immediately.
Another potential hiccup in the case against De Groft and Bailey is if what they have done rises to the level of removal from office.
State Code 24.2-233 states you can be removed from office "for neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties." The Suffolk Commonwealth's Attorney office, headed by C. Phillips Ferguson, must determine if the emails rise to the level for removal from office, based on that code.
If the Commonwealth determines the case against Bailey cannot move forward due to lack of evidence, or if the Judge decides the case lacks merit, then the case could be dismissed. If Bailey's case was dropped, it would reason any future case against De Groft would be settled the same way.
"We will just have to see what the Judge says," De Groft told WAVY.com. "I have no further comment."
De Groft told WAVY.com he found out about the "Motion to Dismiss the Show Cause Order" yesterday when he was contacted by his attorney.
Stay with WAVY News 10 on air and on WAVY.com for continued updates.
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