The Chief Judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit appointed retired Judge Humes J. Franklin Jr. on May 6 to preside over the cases against Greene County Commissioner of the Revenue Larry Snow and his son, Bryant Snow. The appointment comes less than a month after Judge Dale Durrer recused himself and stated in a letter that incoming Greene County Circuit Court Judge Claude Worrell instead would preside.
Larry Snow, 70, is accused of using a computer to gather identifying information that exceeded his authority as a constitutional officer. He allegedly distributed that information to his son, Bryant Snow, 30, who was in Central Virginia Regional jail at the time. Both men are facing three felonies in Orange County. The elder Snow, who has been Greene County’s Commissioner of the Revenue since 1987, also faces nine additional felonies in Greene County.
Judge Durrer recused himself from the cases on April 11 on a recommendation from the judicial inquiry and review committee over matters involving a request from the special prosecutor, Orange County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Fitzgerald, and a subsequent motion from the defense.
Prior to Judge Durrer’s recusal, Fitzgerald requested copies of information in the general district court proceedings of the case. Judge Durrer moved to grant that motion without hearing arguments on the matter. Bryant Snow’s attorney, John Maus, filed a motion to vacate the order shortly thereafter. On the committee’s recommendation, Judge Durrer vacated the previous order that would have granted the information release and recused himself from the case.
Six days later, Judge Durrer wrote a letter to Chief Judge Timothy Sanner stating that since the Snow’s July trial dates come after Judge Worrell would begin presiding in Greene, Judge Worrell would hear the cases. At this time, Judge Worrell is schedule to take over as Greene County Circuit Court presiding judge on July 1, before the Snow’s mid-July trial.
On the same day Judge Durrer wrote his letter to Chief Judge Sanner, Larry Snow’s attorney, Janice Redinger, wrote a letter to Donald Lemons, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Redinger requested the appointment of a new judge, as well as a new special prosecutor.
“The first request is for the court to designate a new judge for these matters, as well as the companion cases of Bryant Snow,” Redinger wrote. She continues by stating, “I ask this court to appoint a new special prosecutor and because of the egregious impropriety of the ex parte contact by the current special prosecutor, to order that he and his office not participate in this process at all.”
Clerk of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Douglas Robelen, responded to Redinger’s requests on April 25.
“You have not identified any authority that would permit the Chief Justice to intervene as you have requested,” Robelen states. “Absent a basis for the Chief Justice to intervene pursuant to your letter, it appears your requests would need to be directed to the circuit court.”