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Gloucester attorney fee award leads to Assembly legislation

The judge who slammed Gloucester County citizens with an $80,000 legal fee award has come in for vehement criticism, while three legislators are offering bills to eliminate any penalty for seeking recall of elected officials.

Substitute Circuit Judge Westbrook J. Parker said the citizens who asked the court to remove four Gloucester supervisors abused the judicial system for “purely political ends.”

A newspaper columnist took the judge to task, saying he “screwed everybody” with his fee award by making citizens afraid to exercise their rights.  Lawyer Tony Troy, counsel for one of the targeted supervisors, responded here, saying bad behavior by elected officials is no reason to hale them into court.  “The last thing that citizens should want is the judicial branch of government overlooking the wisdom of the citizens’ electoral choice,” he wrote.

Now, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, three separate bills have been introduced to bar awards of legal fees for those who petition to recall elected officials.

By Peter Vieth

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