House Bill 2526, which would transfer administration of the judicial performance evaluation program from the Supreme Court of Virginia to the General Assembly, barely cleared the House yesterday on a 49-48 vote. The vote came on crossover day, the last day for legislators to vote on bills that began in their respective houses.
The close vote suggests that the measure will have a tough time in the Senate, which has no corresponding bill and – Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach and a few others notwithstanding – doesn’t seem to be as willing to engage in separation of powers battles with the Supreme Court.
HB 1946 and its companion, SB 1442, which would allow individual circuit court clerks to create their own case and financial management systems, passed both houses handily, 67-32 in the House and 28-11 in the Senate. The Supreme Court vigorously opposed those bills, arguing that a fragmented, duplicative and expensive series of systems will result.
All but three circuit courts are on the Supreme Court’s system, and the legislation requires clerks who opt out of it to create interfaces with the Supreme Court system at their expense.
A proposal by Del. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, HB 1804, to have the General Assembly approve retired judges who can be recalled to sit as substitute judges, died in the House on a 54-43 vote. That’s now an administrative matter supervised by Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr.
HB 2527, an effort to limit the tenure of the chief justice to two four-year terms, died in the House Courts of Justice Committee on a 12-10 vote.
SB1390, a bill that would have allowed chief circuit and district judges to ask informally for judges in nearby districts to help them out, died 8-7 in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
By Alan Cooper