Senator Reeves Battles Orange County Circuit Court Judge over Monument Outside Courthouse

State Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) joined protesters outside the Orange County Courthouse on Monday after Judge David Franzén expressed an intention to call a grand jury to call on the Orange Board of Supervisors to remove the Confederate statue on courthouse property. Reeves is calling for an ethics investigation, saying Franzén’s actions violate ethics codes blocking judges from engaging in political activity.

In 2020, Orange County supervisors were considering what to do with the statue, according to WVIR. But the issue was never voted on or placed on the agenda for consideration, Supervisor Mark Johnson told The Virginia Star.

“In response to a request by David B. Franzen the Board did meet in closed session on two or three occasions over the past several months for the purpose of receiving legal advice,” Johnson said. “The issue of moving any monument has not been placed on the Board’s upcoming agendas and I am unaware of any plans to do so.”

In a Friday email Franzén sent to multiple officials, he explained his original plan to make a declaration from the bench on Monday, but said he postponed the plan due to threats of possible violence on Monday morning.

“As you know, I had intended to make a Declaration from the bench on Monday morning, March 28, prior to the calling of the Grand Jury. The purpose of that declaration was to call upon the Board of Supervisors to exercise its legislative power to remove the Confederate statute from the courthouse lawn as an obstruction to the proper administration of justice in Orange County. It was not my intention to Order any action, but rather to defer to the legislative power of the Board,” Franzén wrote.

“It had been my hope that the issue could be discussed and debated in the public forum of the Board of Supervisors and I was prepared to call upon the Board to do so.  [It] now appears that such an appeal would have been misunderstood and perhaps manipulated in a manner unintended by me,” Franzén wrote. “My postponement should not be construed in anyway as a deferral of the issue.  Matters of this kind require urgent, open and honest discussion and debate.”

In a Monday press release, Reeves said he would file an ethics complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission.

“Judge Franzen has sowed seeds of discontent in the community where none existed. There is a legal process in place that allows citizens to petition their representatives to remove monuments.  This process should not be taken up by a judge’s personal bias and prejudice. If a judge wants to become a legislator they certainly can resign and run for political office,” Reeves said. “I am asking for a thorough review of Judge Franzen’s actions from the bench with regards to violations of ethical conduct with regard to the Canons of Judicial Conduct for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Reeves is running for the GOP nomination for Virginia’s seventh congressional district, and has criticized alleged violations of the law related to monument removal in other localities.

Additionally on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a separate legal battle over the now-removed Richmond Lee Monument.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “State Senator Bryce Reeves” by Bryce Reeves.


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