Teefey will hear suits

Published 8:51 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

Supreme Court of Virginia Chief Justice Donald W. Lemmons recently designated a new judge to preside over four civil suits filed against the Crossroad Community Services by four former employees of the Farmville-based agency. Lemmons appointed Circuit Court Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr., of the 11th Circuit, to hear the cases.

Teefey replaces retired Circuit Court Judge Pamela S. Baskervill, who was designated to hear the suits in June.

“The court speaks through its orders and typically does not provide an explanation for their issuance,” Kristi S. Wright, director of legislative and public relations with the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court, said.

As for the reason why the sitting judges in a court will not hear a case, she referred to the Code of Virginia and Canons of Judicial Conduct, which are intended to establish standards for ethical conduct of judges.

In May, Leslie M. Osborn, chief judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit, said it would be “improper” for judges in the 10th circuit to preside over any of the four civil suits.

The chairman of the Crossroads Community Services Board, the agency itself and Crossroads’ executive director are denying all claims filed against them by the former employees and asking the claims be dismissed.

New court documents — recently filed by attorneys representing Crossroad Community Services Board Chairman Sidney Smyth, Crossroads Executive Director Dr. Susan Baker and the board itself — serve as responses to claims made more than two months ago by Crossroads Coordinator of Nursing Services Cynthia Morris, Office Manager Laura Baldwin, Substance Abuse Coordinator and Substance Abuse Director Jonathan Crawford and Director of Long-Term Care Marina Sinyard.

The former employees’ lawsuits, filed in Prince Edward Circuit Court, claim they were terminated by Baker on Jan. 20 as part of what she called a “reduction in force” in retaliation for complaints lodged against the agency.