An Easy button on his bench. A bobble-head doll in his office with a photo of Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk Judy Worthington attached to its head. A campaign sign for a board of supervisors candidate on his property.
None of those were good ideas, Chesterfield Circuit Judge Timothy J. Hauler acknowledged to a subcommittee of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee last night.
But neither those issues nor more substantive contentions by Sen. Stephen H. Martin, R-Chesterfield, that Hauler is slow in processing cases and reversed on appeal more frequently than other judges – allegations disputed by Hauler – appeared to have much impact on the subcommittee.
They seemed to be more influenced by more than 80 attorneys who turned out to support Hauler and by the vigorous defense of Hauler by Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond.
Part of Marsh’s district is in Chesterfield, and he is chairman of the courts committee, although he is not a member of the subcommittee that conducted the special hearing for Hauler requested by Martin.
“I have never seen nor heard anything [negative] about Judge Hauler,” Marsh said.
Hauler’s supporters stood and applauded when Marsh said he thought Hauler had been treated unfairly by the scheduling of a second hearing after a lengthy one had already been held in December.
Legislators “have a duty to protect people from this kind of stuff,” Marsh said.
At the end of the hearing, the subcommittee unanimously recommended that the full courts committee certify Hauler to the full Senate for reappointment.
Hauler is likely to be reappointed to a third eight-year term the next time the legislature considers the appointment of judges, probably on Feb. 5.
He acknowledged that his relationship with Worthington is still “prickly.” He sued her for defamation after she attempted to block his reappointment eight years ago.
The lawsuit cost taxpayers almost $400,000 – a $90,000 payment to Hauler to settle the case and nearly $300,000 in attorneys’ fees for Worthington.
By Alan Cooper