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Bar groups review state appeals court candidates

The judicial nominations committee of the Virginia State Bar has found five candidates highly qualified to fill the vacancy created by the retirement Court of Appeals Judge James W. Benton Jr.

They are:

? Chesterfield County Circuit Judge Michael C. Allen
? Frank K. Friedman, a partner in the Roanoke firm of Woods Rogers PLC
? Chesapeake Circuit Judge S. Bernard Goodwyn
? Prince William County Circuit Judge William D. Hamblen
? Prince William County Circuit Judge Leroy F. Millette Jr.
? Chief Deputy Attorney General William C. Mims

The committee earlier had found all but Friedman to be highly qualified to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Elizabeth B. Lacy. Friedman did not offer himself as a candidate for the Supreme Court spot. The committee found L. Thomas Booker Jr., a military judge based in Norfolk, and Mary Jane Hall, a partner at Kaufman & Canoles PC in Norfolk, to be qualified.

The Virginia Women Attorneys Association highly recommended Friedman and Goodwyn and recommended Allen and Millette for the court of appeals seat. It found Booker, Hall, Hamblen, Mims and Sharon M.B. Pigeon, an assistant attorney general to be qualified.

The association had highly recommended Goodwyn and Richmond Circuit Judge Margaret P. Spencer for Lacy’s seat and recommended Allen and Court of Appeals Judges Walter S. Felton Jr. and Robert P. Frank.

The Old Dominion Bar Association found Felton, Goodwin, Kelsey and Spencer to be highly qualified for Lacy’s seat and urged Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to appoint Spencer to fill it. It found Allen, Booker, Frank, Hamblen, Millette, Mims and Arelia S. Langhorne, a sole practitioner from Lynchburg, to be qualified.

For the court of appeals vacancy, the ODBA found Goodwyn and Friedman to be highly qualified and Allen, Booker, Hamblen and Millette to be qualified.

Kaine will fill both seats, but he is expected to confer with legislative leaders before doing so because the General Assembly will have the final say on the appointments.

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