August 07, 2020
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has teamed up with residents of Prince William County, Virginia, and their Virginia law firm, McSweeney, Cynkar & Kachouroff, PLLC to file a lawsuit against members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors regarding a violation of Virginia’s open meetings law. The lawsuit was filed in Prince William County Circuit Court (Gloss, et al. v. Wheeler, et al. (No. 20-7521)).
On Saturday night May 30, various protests and rioting occurred in Prince William County, resulting in numerous injuries to police officers and extensive property damage. Police officers reportedly used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The next day, a meeting of the police department’s Citizen Advisory Board was held. All five Democrat supervisors attended the meeting, but the board’s three Republican members were not notified of the meeting and did not attend. The individual who chairs the Citizen’s Advisory Board is the husband of one of the Democrat supervisors.
As explained in the lawsuit, the Democrat supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act/open meeting law by holding a meeting in secret, without notice any Republican supervisor nor advance notice to the public as required by law. Virginia law prohibits any gathering of two or more members of the same public body if public business is transacted or discussed. While no votes were cast during the meeting, the Democrat members posed questions and provided directives to the police leadership to curtail the use of crowd control measures in future disturbances. As set forth in the lawsuit, this constituted a discussion of public business in violation of Virginia Code section 2.2.-3707(A).
“Now, more than ever, citizens need transparency in their government. Secret meetings on police policy undermines public confidence and violates the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.