Confederate monuments trial enters 2nd day in Charlottesville

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) — UPDATE (Sept. 12):

A trial in a lawsuit over Charlottesville's decision to remove two Confederate monuments from downtown area parks has entered its second day.

On Wednesday, it covered possible damages to be paid to the plaintiffs who sued the city to keep the statues where they are.

On Thursday, testimony is focusing on attorneys' fees.

The plaintiffs have asked for more than $600,000 in attorneys fees, with one, Jock Yellott, testifying about the hours billed by the attorneys and their hourly rates.

Yellott is the executive director of the Monument Fund, which has been paying for the plaintiffs' attorneys, and he said the lead attorneys have put in more than 350 hours each at around $300 an hour.

The judge has asked the city to provide the number of hours its attorneys have put in, and he said that would help determine if the hours reported by the plaintiffs are reasonable.

Testimony will continue into Thursday afternoon with the trial expected to wrap up on Friday.

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Sept. 11

A three-day trial has begun in a long-pending case involving a Charlottesville city decision to remove Confederate monuments from two city parks.

A Charlottesville judge heard arguments Wednesday morning concerning the 2017 city decision to remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Earlier this year, the same judge ruled the monuments are war memorials and cannot be removed under existing state law.

On Wednesday, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on the Equal Protection Clause, saying the intent of the current state law is not to discriminate because it includes all wars in American history.

Attorney Buddy Webber is calling the ruling a victory.

"Frankly, the rule of law has been vindicated here, which is what this case has been about for the last two years," he said. "I've spent two years appearing before you people trying to explain exactly what this case is about. Every time I've come here, I've said it's about the rule of law. The judge just vindicated the rule of law. So we're proud of our efforts here."

The judge still has two other issues to consider.

First, he must determine if there was any damage done to the statues when the city placed massive black tarps over them for several months.

He must then also make a ruling on attorneys fees. The plaintiffs have asked the court to award them $500,000.