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SW Virginia judge removed from bench

The Supreme Court of Virginia has removed J&DR Judge James Michael Shull of the 30th District from office. He is only the second judge to lose his job this way since the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission was started in 1971.

The Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission had asked that Shull be censured or removed from the bench for several violations of the Canons of Judicial Conduct: he decided visitation cases by flipping a coin, he had asked a woman to drop her pants in court so he could observe a stab wound and he had made an ex parte call to a hospital in that case.

Justice Barbara Milano Keenan, writing for the unanimous court in Judicial Inquiry and Review Comm’n v. Shull, noted that Shull admitted many of the facts that JIRC alleged and he acknowledged that he had broken the Canons.

She said he “failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary” and that his violations were “grave and substantial.”

Shull argued that the only other judge to be removed has misappropriated confiscated alcohol and firearms, therefore any offense he committed did not warrant removal. But the high court was concerned that Shull demeaned and negatively affected litigants in his court. He was counseled by JIRC on this very point in 2004, but failed to heed their advice, Keenan concluded.

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