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Plaintiffs move to dismiss 1 lawsuit over Lee statue removal

(AP) A court hearing in a lawsuit over Gov. Ralph Northam’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was canceled at the last minute July 16 after the plaintiffs moved to drop the case, Attorney Gen. Mark Herring’s office said.

The development came in a lawsuit filed by several property owners along Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue, where the Lee statue is situated on a parcel of state-owned land.

“The plaintiffs dropped their original suit a couple weeks ago when it was removed to federal court and now they have dropped it again,” Charlotte Gomer, Herring’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

The plaintiffs sought to have it dismissed “without prejudice” to their right to refile, according to a court filing from their attorney, Pat McSweeney, who declined further comment.

Northam’s administration is currently barred from removing the soaring statue by an injunction in a different, ongoing lawsuit.

In that case, the judge who issued the injunction recused himself July 16, citing the location of his home, which is near the statue.

“Upon further reflection on the issues in this case, I conclude that the location of my home in the vicinity of the Lee Monument area may create the appearance of a bias among some Virginians,” Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo wrote. “I was unaware at the outset of this case that I lived in the Monument Avenue Historic District.”

The case has been reassigned to another circuit judge, W. Reilly Marchant.

Northam ordered the Lee statue’s removal in early June, citing the pain felt across the country over the death of George Floyd. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has since had numerous other Confederate statues removed from city-owned land.

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