There’s an unusual dispute in Loudoun County, where a Virginia circuit court judge has disqualified County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj and her team from participating in a criminal case.
Biberaj said Tuesday that she is appealing the judge’s order to the state supreme court.
“I submit to you, and our appeal is going to be based on the fact that there is no authority for the judge to do so,” Biberaj said during an afternoon news conference on the lawn of the county courthouse in Leesburg.
In last week’s order, Judge James Plowman directed the neighboring commonwealth’s attorney’s office in Fauquier County to handle the case instead of Biberaj’s team.
The judge’s order came after the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office reached a plea deal with a 19-year-old, which provided a jail sentence one month less than the seven-month sentencing guideline.
The defendant making the plea, Kevin Enrique Valle, is charged in a spree of break-ins of Northern Virginia businesses in Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Fauquier counties.
“We don’t have to exact every ounce of punishment from him in our case because every other jurisdiction is going to add to it. Us giving him a lower sentence of 6 months versus 7 months, we’re talking 1 month,” Biberaj said.
She said that the value of the property stolen by Valle in Loudoun County was $2,900.
“Mr. Valle is a 19-year-old boy, a teenager. He could be your son. He could be your brother. He could be your child’s playmate. He is 19 years of age and guess what? He made some knucklehead decisions,” Biberaj said.
Biberaj also said that Valle’s sentence below the guideline was because he owned up to his misdeeds.
“There’s a lot to be said for somebody who accepts accountability and understands that what they did is wrong and moves forward to also assist law enforcement in to the prosecution of other matters,” Biberaj said.
Biberaj also vowed to file a motion to reconsider with the Loudoun County Circuit Court to lift the judge’s order.
Biberaj also criticized Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, who in a Monday letter to the Loudoun County Court, supported the judge’s decision to oust the Loudoun County team of prosecutors from the case.
“It is clear from the Order that the Court has rightfully lost confidence in Ms. Biberaj, her deputies and her office’s ability and willingness to effectively seek justice in this matter,” said Miyares in his letter to the court’s chief judge Douglas Fleming Jr. Miyares offered the services of his office to help prosecute the case.
Biberaj accused Miyares of overstepping his authority.
“This is a specific message to Attorney General Miyares, stay in your lane,” she said. “Your lane is Richmond.”
“For him to try to insert himself is not an appropriate use of his power. It’s a misuse of his power because what he is doing is dividing our community … since his election, he has been wanting to undermine the good work that we do as progressive prosecutors,” Biberaj said.
Biberaj said her office is lowering crime while lower the county’s incarceration rate.