5218 Patrick Road (Pam Starsia Brief on Lee Statue.pdf)
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Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces
Charlottesville City Council
Pamela Starsia, Esq.
November 27, 2016
Legal Issues, Litigation, and Legislative Risks Related to the Lee & Jackson Statues
Summary and Proposed Revised Language for Commission Report
I have reviewed the Commission’s draft report to City Council (dated Nov. 10, 2016), and the legal memo prepared
by the City Attorney’s office on the legal issues under state law related to the Lee & Jackson statues. As an attorney
with over ten years’ experience specializing in statutory drafting and interpretation, and litigation related to statutory
interpretation and analysis, I would like to recommend the following revision to the draft report language on “legal
issues” in the sections of the report related to the Lee and Jackson statues.
The draft language for both statues states: “Legal Issues: likely none if the statue remains in the park.” This implies
that the Commission understands the litigation risks to be substantially lower if the statues are retained/transformed
as opposed to relocated and transformed. However, the legal risks for either option are identical. Based on the
Commission’s stated intention to dramatically transform the statues, even if they remain in their current location, the
City should expect the possibility of litigation.
As described below, my opinion is that for either option, under the current law the City would likely win any such
litigation quickly and without significant expense. However, as described below, there have been recent state
legislative attempts to amend the law in order to retroactively prohibit any alteration, removal, or relocation of
Confederate monuments, and in 2016 this amendment came dangerously close to being enacted into law. Only the
Governor’s veto prevented this retroactivity provision from taking effect. Thus, there is a real risk that, when a new
Governor takes office in January 2018, amendments to state law could prevent any future alteration or relocation of
the Lee and Jackson statues after that date. As such, time is of the essence in implementing any plan to transform
and/or relocate the statues.
As such, I propose the substance of the following revised language be included in the Commission’s report:
Legal Issues: the Commission anticipates that any attempt to significantly transform, alter,
remove, and/or relocate the statues will likely result in a lawsuit. However, there appears to be
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