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Judge dismisses defamation claims in former Portsmouth police chief’s lawsuit against Sen. Louise Lucas and others

·3 min read

A judge has dismissed defamation claims in a lawsuit by ex-Police Chief Angela Greene last year against Sen. Louise Lucas, Portsmouth City Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke and the Rev. Milton Blount.

Greene filed the lawsuit in April 2021, less than a year after her termination, alleging that she was wrongly fired after being illegally instructed to stop investigations into more than a dozen people involved in the aftermath of a protest and vandalism at the downtown Confederate monument in 2020.

Judge Pamela Baskervill, a retired judge appointed by the state supreme court to preside over the case, dismissed those claims in March, said Verbena Askew, a Hampton-based attorney representing Lucas.

But Baskervill allowed Greene’s team to file amended complaints of defamation, which were formally dismissed last week. Greene had alleged the three made false assertions about her conduct as police chief.

Greene’s attorney, Thomas Plofchan of Westlake Legal Group in Potomac Falls, said Greene will consider appealing the case because the judge didn’t elaborate on her reasons for dismissing the amended defamation claims or on the procedural issues cited in the their pleading.

“With all due respect to the judge, we just think she got it wrong,” he said.

Askew said Baskervill allowed both the plaintiff and defendants to request a hearing for the amended defamation claims, but no one did. Plofchan said Greene’s team didn’t refuse a hearing, but instead decided an additional hearing was not needed as their case had already been made.

Baskervill entered the order to dismiss the defamation claims in the Portsmouth Circuit Court.

Lucas could not be reached for comment. But Askew said she’s pleased with the results and that Baskervill was “very thoughtful” throughout the proceedings, allowing both sides ample time to make their cases.

“(Lucas is) pleased at the results so that she can move on and take care of business as being a senator and representing the people as she has been doing for 30 years,” Askew said.

Lucas-Burke told The Virginian-Pilot Tuesday she was “relieved” and that the suit’s dismissal “clears her good name.”

“I’m relieved and delighted with the outcome because (my comments were) never meant to be harmful or defaming,” she said.

Lucas-Burke was referring to comments she made at a rally in support of those who were charged with felonies stemming from the protest. At that time, Lucas-Burke said then-City Attorney Solomon Ashby told Greene in a closed-door meeting not to pursue charges as he wouldn’t be able to represent her in any subsequent litigation stemming from them.

Lucas-Burke said Tuesday her comments were “an expression of what I thought at the time.” She declined to elaborate further.

The city assigned attorney Shep Wainger of Kaleo Legal to represent Lucas-Burke in the case. Kaleo Legal has offices in Virginia Beach and Richmond.

S. W. Dawson, an attorney with Dawson P.L.C. in Norfolk and Irvington, represented Blount in the suit.

“Although Rev. Blount remains distressed that he was ever a subject of this suit, he is nevertheless relieved that this saga is finally over, and looks forward to continuing his work as an advocate for the wellbeing of the citizens of Portsmouth,” Dawson said in an emailed statement.

Natalie Anderson, 757-732-1133, natalie.anderson@virginiamedia.com