Judgeship Interviews Set For Sept. 17

GA Expected To Add Judges To 26th District

Posted: September 3, 2014

HARRISONBURG — Interviews for new judges statewide are set for Sept. 17, a day before the General Assembly is expected to take action on filling the positions and address Medicaid expansion in Virginia.

Del. David Albo, R-Springfield, said the Senate and House of Delegates courts committees have 36 people to interview for 36 judgeships, including additions to the 26th Judicial District covering Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

Albo is chairman of the House panel, which, like the Senate committee, will interview candidates and submit recommendations for a vote by the full chamber.

The General Assembly elects judges selected from names offered by lawmakers.

“If you’re being interviewed on the 17th,” Albo said in a Friday phone interview, “unless we find that person unqualified, you’re going to get it. … I don’t really like interviewing people who aren’t going to get it.”

The 26th District, which also includes Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester, is expected to add two new circuit court judges, one general district judge and one juvenile and domestic relations judge.

At present, there are five circuit judges, four general district judges and five juvenile and domestic relations judges in the 26th.

Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, and four other Valley lawmakers interviewed about 20 judicial candidates for the district openings in April.

When reached Friday, Obenshain said he hadn’t received a definitive word that interviews were set for Sept. 17, though he acknowledged comments Albo made to Virginia Lawyers Weekly indicating the matter will come up.

It’s not known who locally will be interviewing in Richmond on Sept. 17. The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association nominated city lawyers James Clough and John Hart for the general district court position and Clough for juvenile court as well.

The bar also voted Rockingham County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Bailey “qualified” for the juvenile position, while not endorsing anyone for circuit court.

To be endorsed by the bar, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the votes by members attending the meeting. A candidate receiving votes from half the members but fewer than two-thirds is deemed “qualified.”

The bar’s input is one factor that plays into which candidates lawmakers nominate for their district.

“They are well suited to make recommendations,” Obenshain said.

Chief judges for judicial districts likely will assign which county or city the new judges will hear cases from.

According to the state budget, circuit court judges have an annual salary of more than $162,000, while general district judges receive more than $146,000.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com

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