Virginia Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. was hospitalized recently with an infection and will not participate in the court’s argument session next week.
Katya N. Herndon, the spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, confirmed the illness and added, “I’m pleased to report that he is feeling much better.”
Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which has no mechanism for handling the absence of a justice in a case, the Supreme Court of Virginia has seven active or senior justices sit on all the state high court’s arguments except in very rare instances.
The senior justices who could fill in for Hassell are Harry L. Carrico, Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr., Charles S. Russell and Elizabeth B. Lacy.
Hassell’s illness also forced postponement of a retreat scheduled for last month at which court members were to discuss long pending policy matters.
Those issues included the recommendations by the Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century, a proposed Code of Evidence and a substantial reworking of appellate rules by a committee led by Justice Donald W. Lemons.
By Alan Cooper