Judge who wasn't satisfied with plea deal kicks entire prosecutor's office off the case
Image from Shutterstock.
Two groups are asking the Virginia State Bar to consider filing ethics charges against the Loudoun County commonwealth attorney after a judge removed her entire office from a burglary case.
Virginians for Safe Communities and Fight for Schools sought the investigation of Buta Biberaj and her office after Judge James E. Plowman Jr. of Loudoun County, Virginia, reassigned the case to a new prosecution office because he wasn’t satisfied with a plea agreement, ABC7 WJLA reports.
Plowman’s June 9 order also removed him from the case against defendant Kevin Enrique Valle unless the parties agree otherwise.
Plowman became a judge in 2019 after he worked as the Loudoun County prosecutor. He did not have a hearing on his plans to kick the prosecution office off the case in which prosecutors could respond, the Washington Post reports.
Valle’s plea deal had called for six months in jail and restitution to burglarized businesses, according to the Washington Post. The Washington Post described the incident as “the latest pushback against a wave of progressive prosecutors who won elections nationwide in recent years promising to reduce incarceration, stop prosecuting low-level crimes and focus on violence.”
Biberaj, Plowman’s successor, is already facing a recall effort, as are other Northern Virginia prosecutors, according to the Washington Post.
Plowman raised several concerns about the prosecution’s December 2021 proffer of facts in the case that he thought were a “misleading representation and entirely inaccurate.”
It may be true that the two charged burglaries happened within hours of each other, but those crimes were part of a possible 12-burglary crime spree spanning four counties over 10 days, Plowman said.
And the assertion that Valle had no prior adult convictions was technically true, but it “sanitized the facts” by failing to disclose numerous pending adult felony matters and a guilty plea to three related felonies in an adjacent county, Plowman said.
Plowman also criticized a prosecution statement that said the alleged co-conspirator in the case is older and has a significant criminal history, leading the commonwealth to think that Valle was being negatively influenced. The alleged co-conspirator also has no adult criminal convictions, and he was only 13 months older than Valle, Plowman said.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Biberaj said Valle’s guilty plea in the neighboring county happened after his Loudoun County plea deal was signed.
Biberaj compared opposition to elected, progressive prosecutors to the U.S. Capitol rioters’ attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“This is not about Buta Biberaj,” Biberaj said. “It literally is about individuals who are inserting themselves into the electoral process.”
Biberaj has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reverse Plowman’s disqualification order.