PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A judge dismissed two charges against Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke that would have forced her to forfeit her title as vice mayor if she was convicted. I
In a brief hearing Judge Robert Carter, who is a retired Chesapeake judge, agreed with defense attorney Michael Massie who argued Lucas-Burke is offered protection from the case under a section of the state code that restricts who can file criminal charges against an elected official. The state code essentially states only the Governor, the Attorney General or a grand jury can initiate a criminal investigation against an elected official.
Lucas-Burke, the daughter of State Sen. Louise Lucas, faced two class 3 misdemeanor charges in the case. She was served summons for the charges back in August when she called for Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene’s resignation, after her mother and several other Black leaders were charged in connection to the city’s Confederate monument controversy.
A Portsmouth resident who filed the criminal complaint that led to charges against Lucas-Burke said he believed she violated city code by calling for Greene’s firing.
Judge Carter dismissed the charges but not before offering the Vice Mayor some advice. ” Don’t let anger set your tongue on fire because it will ultimately burn you.” said Judge Carter.
Lucas-Burke was flanked by supporters including her mother, Sen. Louis Lucas, as she left the courthouse. When reporters asked about the judge’s advice, Lucas-Burke reflected on the case as an opportunity to hit the reset button in Portsmouth civic affairs. ” I believe there is- as the judge mentioned- this is a learning lesson and I have learned a lot- so I’m going to take it and be better for all the citizens of Portsmouth,” said Lucas-Burke.
Louise Lucas, the mother and not the politician, offered a predictable response. ” I’m just happy because I don’t want my daughter to have a criminal record; she has gone all these years as an upstanding citizen and this is just a very good day for us,” said Lucas.
Thomas Dubois, the citizen who filed charges against Lucas-Burke was disappointed after the case. Dubois stood before the judge without an attorney and later said it appears a decision to dismiss the charges had been made even before arguments were heard.
Dubois told Ten on Your Side he is weighing his options but in the meantime, a simple apology from Lucas- Burke would go a long way toward improving relations.
“I think she needs to apologize to the city because she stood right here[courthouse steps] and demanded the firing of the police chief; so stand right here and apologize,” said Dubois
Sen. Lucas and the others charged in the monument case will have their preliminary hearings coming up in November. A judge recently ruled that Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales was not a witness in the June incident, giving her control of the prosecution. The decision was seen as a major win for the defendants.