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Court realignment dead for the year

There will be no legislation this year to realign the state’s judicial circuits and districts.

But Bill Janis, R-Henrico, the patron of HB 1990, said he believes that he and Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, “got the ball rolling” to revamp circuits and districts that have not been changed since 1972.

Janis made that comment this morning after the Senate Courts of Justice Committee effectively killed his bill. Instead, the chairmen of the House and Senate courts committees will send a letter to the Supreme Court of Virginia and its Office of the Executive Secretary asking them to study the issue and report back to a joint subcommittee of the two committees by the fall.

Janis said he had intended for this proposal to be “the starting point, not the ending point of the conversation.” He had pressed in the House to have his legislative enacted as a way of making sure the conversation occurred, and it passed by a 52-46 vote.

Edwards decided early on not to pursue his version of the proposal, SB 1240, and recommended to the Senate Courts Committee that it have the committee chairman ask the court to review the proposal instead.

The judicial circuits and districts have not been realigned since 1972, and Janis said he has received little criticism about the appropriateness of a realignment to reflect the changing population patterns in the state.

Instead, the concerns have been about the alignment of a particular district or about the lack of input by those that would be affected by the realignment.

Janis said he hopes that the study of the issue will include meetings around the state to get that input.
By Alan Cooper

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