Decision delay: Dumler awaits ruling on petition

At least 470 of his constituents want him gone, but embattled Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler hangs on– and he has at least one more week to serve the Scottsville District before Judge Cheryl Higgins rules on a petition to remove him from office.

"For the board to work, it requires trust, and they don't have it in Mr. Dumler's case," said special prosecutor Mike Doucette in his closing argument, wrapping up a four-hour trial on Monday, May 20 that brought at least three of Dumler's fellow supervisors to the stand along with several unsatisfied Dumler constituents.

"I was really appalled, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," testified supervisor Ken Boyd of his feelings about his fellow board member immediately following Dumler's October arrest on charges of forcible sodomy. Boyd noted that after Dumler pleaded guilty in January to a reduced charge of misdemeanor sexual battery, "I lost respect for him."

Supervisor Duane Snow described his inspiration for writing an open letter asking Dumler to step down after the conviction, explaining that staying silent while Dumler remained on the board seemed "the wrong message to send to our youth."

Back in early February, soon after Dumler accepted the plea that reduced the charge against him to sexual battery, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to censure him. Another motion urging Dumler to resign passed 3-2. (Dumler abstained from both votes.) While both motions passed, they carried no legal significance, as Virginia allows the ouster of elected officials only for felony convictions, hate crimes, drug trafficking, or– as Dumler's detractors assert– for "neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence."

At the time of the trial, prosecutor Doucette told the court, a petition circulated by constituent Earl Smith garnered 470 certified signatures of Scottsville district residents– nearly 100 more than the 372 required to bring the case to court. The recall petition– with few precedents in Virginia– alleges several ways in which the now 28-year-old Dumler has neglected or become unable to perform his duties, including his March resignation from all committees, commissions, and boards. (Dumler testified he'd taken those steps only after other board members informed him that he was heading for  removal by their official votes.)

Also explored by the prosecution: Dumler's decision to abstain from a vote on a police firing range that might impact residents of his district. While Doucette sought to paint the abstention as evidence of Dumler's inability to serve, Dumler said he merely sought to avoid "any appearance of impropriety" by avoiding a vote pertaining to law enforcement during the pendancy of his legal battle.

Doucette brought several of Dumler's constituents to the stand to further paint a portrait of a poorly performing supervisor.

"I contacted him on the only phone number I had," said Jackie Aikins, a three-decade Scottsville district resident who said she'd left several messages for Dumler prior to his arrest hoping to discuss concerns about various issues including trash can placement in the Scottsville area, and that she'd left near daily messages for him after his arrest.

"He has never returned one of my phone calls," Aikins testified.

Dumler's attorney, Jessica Phillips, pointed out that the telephone number Aikins attested to calling was different by one digit from the number printed on Dumler's mailings. She also suggested the content of some of Aikins' post-arrest messages might have played a role in the supervisor's reluctance to place return calls.

"Did you say his soul was damned?" asked the defense.

"I don't think so,"Aikins replied, "because I don't think anyone's soul is damned if they repent."

"Did you call him a violent sexual predator?"

"Probably," answered Aikins, "because I think that's what he is."

Another disgruntled constituent testified that he too had left an unreturned message.

"I have lost all faith in him as my supervisor," said Scottsville resident Rob W. Pippin Sr.

Ella Jordan, clerk of the Board of Supervisors, later testified that callers to her office– which is where Pippin allegedly left his message– routinely get instructed to contact supervisors at email addresses and numbers listed on the county website. "We tell them they don't maintain office hours here," said Jordan.

Among the evidence amassed for the defense were four thick binders containing email correspondence Dumler sent his constituents over the past year, as well as an annual report he began distributing in March. The embattled supervisor testified about a mass email system that allows him to communicate with thousands of recipients and said he responded to all messages pertaining to county business.

"I do not believe that my resignation or failure to resign is an issue of county business," Dumler testified.

Supervisor Dennis Rooker, an independent who often votes in accord with the Democratic Dumler, was called by the defense. Rooker said he'd experienced no problems communicating with Dumler, and that if he were up for reelection, he would consider using the email system Dumler embraced. Like Dumler, Rooker is an attorney, and he acknowledged abstaining from several votes in situations where a client was involved in a county matter.

"Have you ever abstained or recused yourself because you were accused of a crime or convicted of a crime?" Doucette asked.

"No," replied Rooker.

Summarizing testimony from the three supervisors who testified, Defense attorney Phillips asked Judge Higgins to reject the attempted ouster, claiming all accusations against Dumler for neglect, including his inability to immediately respond to constituents during the 29 days he served in jail, as well as his abstention from some votes– are things "that can be attributed to the other supervisors who are here today. Are they all neglectful?"

The effort to remove Dumler, Phillips said, "is evidence of people who don't like Mr. Dumler and want him to resign. That doesn't go to neglect and material adverse effect," said Phillips, insisting there is only one legal way to remove him.

"The people of Scottsville can vote Mr. Dumler out of office," she said.

Dumler has already indicated that he won't stand for reelection when his term ends in 2015. Higgins will rule on the petition on May 31.

Read more on: Chris Dumler


Dumler was convicted of sexual BATTERY which constitutes a violent crime. I don't want a jailbird who has been convicted of violence to be sitting in a leadership position in government.
Dumler was right to recuse himself from voting on the firing range since he has had an "incident" with the police. But he will have to recuse himself from EVERY agenda item related to law enforcement, the courts, the jail that comes before the BOS since he likely is carrying negative biases against them. That means that the Scottsville residents do not have representation on the BOS for every one of these issues. That my friend, constitutes a failure to perform his duties, and is reason enough to get rid of him.

What's more, Twinmom, he's an absolute embarrassment. Him being removed by Judge Higgins would be an act of governmental self-cleaning. Technically, he has some statutory authority over Judge Higgins' courtroom. This is truly an untenable situation. Her decision to remove him would not be overturned on appeal.

No telling how many people besides Cynthia Neff 'Ol "Dirtroad" Dumler is putting the Bu Fu too. Some people like it.

Percykution, your comment disgusts me, Why do you not post using your real name?

Lots of self-righteous people here. Person was convicted of a misdemeanor. Lot of hysteria about this misdemeanor. That's what the prosecutor asked for, and apparently that was all he felt he could prove. None of us was there in the bedroom. None of us understand why the plaintiff was even there,mor how things were going ten minutes prior to this misdemeanor. We're all using our imaginations.

Mr. Silk, you're comment does not reflect the truth. The plaintiff asked for this plea deal. It was not the idea of the prosecutor at all, as he wanted to prosecute.

What you are repeating is the party line talking points. We do know what happened, and a man of this caliber has no place in public office.

Judge Higgins hopefully will makes the right decision and remove Mr. Dumler from office.

smoking with the ex smoker who claim oh yea write a blog and its all over so i dont do that . I mean if you on here i think your privacy is already shot thank you yo are alot of help

"Mr. Silk, you're comment does not reflect the truth. The plaintiff asked for this plea deal. It was not the idea of the prosecutor at all, as he wanted to prosecute."

If the prosecutor could have nailed this guy they would have for the bragging rights if nothing else. They didn't have anything beyond her accusation which fortunately is not enough to take away a persons freedom for 20 to life. This guy may be 100% guilty, nobody knows, but until there is credible evidence we need to judge him with the same rules that everyone else is judged by. I doubt anyone reading this would think it fair for a disgruntled ex or even a neighbor who's mad at you for a barking dog to have you locked up for 20 years on their say so by accusing rape.

I guess we will all find out soon.

As far as him recusing himself from the police vote all of Board members have to fear that retribution..... those that voted against it are hoping they don't get pulled over. Dumlers recusing himself was the correct thing to do and is done every week across the state by others. In fact we should probably have more of it instead of back room deals.

Mr Silk, you are correct when you wrote, "None of us was there in the bedroom." BUT, Mr Dumler and the victim WERE both there. She said he is guilty, and Dumler himself agreed and admitted under oath, in a court of law, that he was guilty of this violent sexual offense. So why do you have so much trouble believing the only two people that were there and witnessed the crime? His plea was not an Alford plea where he agrees to plead guilty but maintains his innocence. He plead guilty to a violent sexual offense, PERIOD. If you have firsthand knowledge of what occurred that night and that Dumler lied in court when he plead guilty, you have a duty to report that information to the authorities. Otherwise, we should be at the end of that discussion.

The current court case is not about whether he is guilty of sexual battery, assault, rape, etc. That issue has already been resolved. He is forever more guilty of sexual battery, no chance for appeal. The current case before Judge Higgins is whether he should be removed from office because he is unfit to serve. I maintain that he should be removed because he is unable to represent Scottsville residents everytime there is an issue related to law enforcement, the courts and the jail, and he is unable to fulfill any committee duties related to those aspects of county government because of a potential bias. I think that Scottsville residents deserve representation on those important aspects of county government. And I don't want a jailbird as a government official. Hopefully, Judge Higgins will see the issue clearly, and not respond to political pressure.


He and his assailant agreed to non violent sexual asault... a misdemeanor. . He did not plead guilty to a "violent sexual offense"

My question to you is ...if this had all happened three years ago and he was elected despite his conviction then how would that make him unfit for public office? If the voters were to reelect him despite his record then the courts could not remove him, so how can they justify removing him now? He does not need to recuse himself from Police issues any longer and any Board member who had a legal issue with the Police would responsbly recuse themselves. Recusal is not a bad thing it is the ethical thing to do so that developers don't have the power to buy votes. It is not used enough.

Like you said.. the Judge needs to determine whether or not he is fit to perform his duties. If the voters had elected him after the crime then she would have no say in the matter and that is the criteria she needs to judge him against, not other members who are basically afraid for thier own jobs and could not support him even if they wanted to because their own necks would be on the chopping block.

If I were his defense attorney I would have asked each Board memeber when they were on the stand whether they think they would lose votes if they came out in support of him. They would all have to say yes and that makes their testmony prejudicial.

Hopefuly the Judge will take this into consideration.

Bill Marshall - this is the applicable definition
"§ 18.2-67.4. Sexual battery.

A. An accused is guilty of sexual battery if he sexually abuses, as defined in § 18.2-67.10, (i) the complaining witness against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat, intimidation, or ruse

and a standard definition of a violent crime is
"an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another"
A violent crime can be a misdemeanor, it doesn't have to be a felony. Please show me where you found the information that the victim and assailant "agreed to non violent sexual assault" (exact wording).

Your hypothetical question about this crime occurring before he was elected is just that, completely hypothetical to the point that it isn't relevant. We could compose other hypotheticals such that the victim was a minor child (automatic removal from office), or that Dumler was found guilty of felony sexual assault by a jury, etc, etc, but what does that prove? The judge shouldn't rule based on hypotheticals and what might have been; she should rule based on facts.
Recusal isn't a bad thing, on that we can agree, and Dumler was correct for recusing himself on police issues. But he will have to continue recusing himself on law enforcement and judicial issues and that means that for Scottsville residents are left without representation for a big chunk of BOS business. If one of the supes recuses because of friendship with a potential vendor, that is one tiny issue. But Dumler will need to continue recusing himself on a lot of different issues, to the extent that the Scottsville residents will begin to feel that they have no voice.
The other supes are responding to basic standards of decency when they shun working with someone who has demonstrated his lack of respect for a woman's right to say no. If one of my co-workers had admitted to sexual battery, rest assured that most, if not all, of my colleagues, male and female, would have trouble working with him. Two of the supes were a little slow in coming to that realization and needed the public outrage to develop moral underpinnings, but we'll let the voters decide how to handle their political motivations.

If I were Dumler's defense attorney, I would suggest he resign from the BOS and I would spend more time preparing to defend him against the likely tort case that will be filed against him.

1) this crime is not included under "violent crimes" under the state published statistics.

2) hypotheticals are EXACTLY what an intelligent person would use to make a reasonable determination of his abilities. Just like Hillary Clintons "hypothetical" question of what Barack Obama might do if he got a call from Benghazi at three in the morning.

3) The question is not his reputation or past but his abilities going forward So if he were to be elected with this conviction the same Board members would presumably have the same feelings about him but they would be legally irrelevant. I am sure Nancy Pelosi hates Michelle Bachman but that is simply the nature of the beast. Their refusal to cooperate with him is malpractice on their part and they are doing so at their own peril since there will come a time when they might need his vote. The only question the Judge should have allowed is whether they can understand the words he speaks and do they believe he is of a sound enough mind to vote. Their opinions of him are just that and not relevant to the matter at hand.

4) If one of your coworkers were convicted of sexual battery and your employer kept him on (as is required by law or union rules in many places) and you "shunned" them then that would be a reason to legally fire YOU. You would be the one guilty of deriliction of duty just as the currect supervisors are guilty now. He is ready willing and able to work with them.

5) The fact that two supervisors only became outraged after public outcry PROVES that their testimony is based on thier personal survival and was therefore tainted and should be ignored.

6) and once more back to the hypothetical as it is very relevant. Two scenarios. The current one where he supposedly incapable of performing his duties due to his conviction and must be removed because the district cannot be represented effectivley and another where he is removed, runs in the special election and wins... Would the judge remove him again? Would he still be "inneffctive" at that point or would the supervisors hold their precious little sanctimonious noses and let him speak?

7) The Judge may toss him out tomorrow and if she does that is her decision to make. I think there is a decent chance that the law is in his favor and I hope he survives this so that people will understand more about how the process of elected representation works. If he had been a gay man in a domestic dispute with his lover or a black man who was in a knife fight rolled back to a misdemeanor nobody would have had the stones to get up there and badmouth them for fear of being called out as a rapist or homophobe. But if someone had testified in SUPPORT of his abilities they would have been vililified just as anyone on these forums has been since day one.

re:"1) this crime is not included under "violent crimes" under the state published statistics."

Those statistics are not the operative definition of what is and what is not "violent". I'm sorry Bill, but you are wrong again.

Twinmom quoted the written law so I referenced in context.

He was NOT convicted of a violent crime.

You can think what you want but just like twinmom says the legal facts are there forever.

Looks like the system worked as designed....