LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - After a Loudoun judge removed the county commonwealth’s attorney’s office from a burglary case, FOX 5 has learned a different judge removed the office from a sex assault case six months prior.
The case involves a man, Richard Piland, who is accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a house party in Waterford.
At a court hearing in December, Piland’s attorney said the prosecutor spoke to his expert witness and looked at a chart she created about DNA evidence.
Audio from the court hearing shows Piland’s attorney asked for the case to be dismissed, filing a motion accusing prosecutorial misconduct.
"We believe the appropriate remedy would be dismissal for denial of due process and if not dismissal, then the court should order recusal of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office," said attorney Thomas Plofchan.
The judge on the case agreed to remove the office, stating: "It’s just a lawyer obligation. You don’t look at the other guy’s material."
The judge also mentioned that what happened gave the Loudoun prosecutor information that he otherwise would not have had saying, "I think doing so prejudiced the case."
Loudoun County Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Sweet was taken off the case, and an Arlington County commonwealth’s attorney was assigned to it.
Legal experts say what happened is significant, but not as rare as what happened last week when a judge initiated the removal of Biberaj and her office after he accused a different Loudoun prosecutor of intentionally misleading the court about a burglary case.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj has appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court arguing the judge has no authority to remove her office from the case.
The appeal states that Biberaj found out from FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts about the judge’s order disqualifying and removing her from the case.
The order, a public document, is dated June 9th. Watts contacted Biberaj’s office for comment the next day.
On Thursday, Biberaj tweeted to Watts: "the date of the order does not always match the date of distribution. How and when did you get the order? That is a story that should be investigated and reported. @JasonMiyaresVA please come to Loudoun and inv the integrity of our court and the leaks."
Biberaj has criticized Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares after he offered to help prosecute the burglary case, which the judge ordered Fauquier County to take over.
Biberaj provided no comment on the sex assault case that her office was removed from, despite multiple requests.