STANARDSVILLE — Greene County Commissioner of the Revenue Larry Snow and his son, Bryant, recently were back in Greene County Circuit Court on new motions from the defense involving a court reporter bill, unsealing documents and removing the current special prosecutor in the case.
Retired Judge Humes Franklin Jr., who was appointed to preside in the case on May 6 after Judge Dale Durrer recused himself, prefaced the Aug. 21 motions hearing by saying he would not undo previous rulings.
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 30-year-old son, who was in the Central Virginia Regional Jail at the time. Both men are facing three felonies in Orange County. The elder Snow, who has been Greene’s commissioner of the revenue since 1987, also faces nine felonies in Greene County.
“I’m not going back and undoing what [Durrer] ruled on. I’m going to live with what he’s done, unless there’s an objection to that,” Franklin said.
Janice Redinger and Bruce Williamson, attorneys for Larry Snow, and John Maus, attorney for Bryant Snow, filed motions to vacate an order entered by the commonwealth to pay a $450 court reporter bill.
“It’s a mundane housekeeping order by appearance, but counsel objects,” Williamson said. He then stated that it was unnecessary to expedite the service, that the commonwealth wasn’t permitted to dip into a defense fund and that the signature lines of defense counsel were omitted in the order.
Orange County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case, said the service was expedited to meet the motions deadline and that the fund was not solely for the defense, but rather a general fund.
“The commonwealth complied to the court-ordered motions deadline,” he said. “There is a bill, it’s submitted to the court. There is nothing unusual except the hostility that has followed with every motion in this case. This was a completely neutral housekeeping motion to get the court reporter paid.”
Williamson responded by saying that the main issue was the missing signature lines from the defense, “whether intentional or not.”
“All we’re trying to do is give our clients a reasonable chance. It’s not out of hostility to the court or the commonwealth,” Maus added.
Franklin denied the defense’s motion to vacate the order requiring that they pay the court reporter.
The defense also filed a motion to unseal documents in the case. However, Redinger allegedly admitted previously to breaking the seal on the documents and providing Maus with a copy. Before hearing arguments, Franklin called the incident “a horrific ethical breach” on Redinger’s part.
“To Ms. Redinger’s credit, she admitted she got it and made a copy. Mr. Maus, to his credit, admitted he’s got a copy of it. What’s there to unseal?” Franklin asked.
The defense said “defense counsel had every reason to believe the commonwealth would submit the items.”
“We’re asking the court order be unsealed, direct the clerk to transmit copies to defense, grant defense time to respond and order the commonwealth’s attorney to submit items under seal,” Williamson said.
Fitzgerald argued that the defense’s breaking of the seal is behavior that shouldn’t be rewarded.
“If there’s an Academy Award for the most brassy motion, this certainly is this year’s winner,” Fitzgerald said. “Counsel broke in and stole the document from the court. What are we doing having counsel second-guess Judge Durrer? Under all of this there is no dispute at all that the product of the process was sealed.”
Fitzgerald added that the motion to unseal was being brought before the court almost a year later, “after all the harm had been done.”
Maus argued that the defense needs to be able to have the items in question. Franklin ultimately granted the items be produced “in camera” and unsealed for the defense, but not to the public. In camera means the judge will look over the items and decide whether prosecutors need to share with defense via discovery.
Lastly, the defense reintroduced a motion to disqualify Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor in the case. The defense previously asked that Fitzgerald be removed on June 25. Franklin denied that motion on July 3.
“You can save your breath. I’m not disqualifying him. I find no reason to disqualify,” Franklin said.
The commonwealth filed a motion to reconsider the venue of the trial. Durrer previously ruled that both Larry and Bryant Snow be tried together in Greene County, noting at that time that he had “confidence in the oath jurors take” and believed that an unbiased jury could be empaneled in Greene. A hearing to reconsider the venue is scheduled for Oct. 24.