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High court will study caseload comparisons

Virginia judicial leaders are getting ready to take a close look at how busy the state’s judges are.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser has appointed an 18-member advisory committee to assist the court in its General Assembly-mandated study of trial court caseloads. At the same time, the Judicial Council of Virginia will measure the caseloads of the state’s two appellate courts at the request of the Assembly.

The $240,000 study of Virginia’s trial court caseloads is being conducted by the Williamsburg-based National Center for State Courts. The need for a weighted caseload system to permit fair comparisons of court dockets came to light after lawmakers proposed to redraw judicial districts and circuits in 2011.

A separate, in-house study will evaluate the caseloads of both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals to recommend whether or not to expand the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The legislative request for that study apparently was based on a concern that the Supreme Court’s heavy caseload forces it to reject many worthy appeals.

The Court of Appeals considers only criminal, domestic relations, traffic and administrative appeals. Kinser told members of the Judicial Council Friday the court’s staff will prepare figures for the council to consider. “We’re going to look at the numbers in both courts,” she said.

The members of the trial court advisory committee are:

  • Franklin County Circuit Judge William N. Alexander II
  • Norfolk Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge Michele J. Atkins
  • Petersburg Circuit Judge Pamela S. Baskervill
  • Stafford County Circuit Judge J. Martin Bass
  • Lynchburg General District Judge R. Edwin Burnette Jr.
  • Pulaski County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge H. Lee Chitwood
  • Tazewell County General District Clerk Connie S. Comer
  • Lexington/Rockbridge County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge Anita D. Filson
  • Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas D. Horne
  • Winchester/ Frederick County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Clerk Ann B. Lloyd
  • Henrico General District Judge Mary B. Malveaux
  • Chesapeake Circuit Clerk Faye W. Mitchell
  • Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge Janine M. Saxe
  • Orange County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge Frank W. Somerville
  • Roanoke County General District Judge Jacqueline F. Ward Talevi
  • Smyth County General District Judge Joseph S. Tate
  • Hampton Circuit Judge Wilford Taylor Jr.
  • Halifax County General District Judge J. William Watson Jr.

By Peter Vieth

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