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Mims goes on high court


(AP Photo/Richmond Times Dispatch, Bob Brown)

William C. Mims was formally invested today as the 100th person to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

“Just as they have all the other times I’ve appeared before the court, my hands continue to shake,” Mims told a packed courtroom just after his wife and three daughters had helped him don his robe and he was escorted to the bench.

Mims served in the House of Delegates and the Senate as a Republican and as chief deputy attorney general under then-AG and now-governor Robert F. McDonnell, but some of the highest praise for him came from Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw recalled his dismay when Mims called him to tell him that he was leaving the Senate to join the AG’s office. “How do you replace that kind of intellectual firepower?” was his first thought, Saslaw said.

He noted the number of positions Mims has held — four different jobs in the last 14 months, as an example — and said people didn’t want him to leave whatever position he was in.

Mark Rubin, senior counsel to McDonnell’s predecessor, Timothy M. Kaine, worked closely with Mims in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre and praised his “honesty, intelligence, compassion and good humor” in reaching beyond the strict limits of the law to find a meaningful response to families of the victims.

McDonnell, who entered the legislature with Mims in 1991, said Mims administered the AG’s office “with extraordinary character and discipline.” Mims has “a servant’s heart,” McDonnell said.

The governor and Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. engaged in a bit of banter after Hassell invited McDonnell to the lectern. “It’s nice to be able to tell the governor, ‘You may proceed,’” the chief justice said.

“Are you going to turn on the light?” McDonnell said, a reference to the yellow and red lights that come on to tell advocates that their time for argument is ending.

“The light doesn’t work because of the budget cuts,” Hassell responded.

By Alan Cooper

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