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Delegation agrees on Chesterfield candidate

Harold W. Burgess Jr., a juvenile  and domestic relations district court judge in Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights, appears to have the inside track on the circuit court vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Cleo E. Powell to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

The General Assembly elected McGuireWoods partner John V. Cogbill III to the seat, but he has said he will not accept it. Cogbill has two military officer sons who have had seven tours between them in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he says family considerations are too much of a distraction for him to assume judicial responsibilities.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Republican members of the local delegation came up with a list of three candidates – Burgess; another McGuireWoods partner, Steven C. McCallum; and deputy county commonwealth’s attorney James J. O’Connell III.

Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, ran those names past his Democratic colleague, Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, R-Richmond, who responded that Burgess was acceptable. Large chunks of Chesterfield are in the districts of Watkins and Marsh.

But legislators lost the opportunity to elect a candidate directly when Cogbill withdrew, and it’s up to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to make a pro tempore appointment.

Kaine has asked bar groups for recommendations and will take them into consideration before selecting a candidate, the sources say.

But with the delegation apparently behind Burgess, who has earned an excellent reputation as a J&DR judge, Kaine is likely to go along with his appointment.

By Alan Cooper

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