Del. Richard Morris – a military lawyer – concluded gay judicial candidate Tracy Thorne-Begland is not guilty of any military misconduct, an accusation that was a key factor in opposition to his candidacy. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, Morris, R-Carrollton, shared his conclusion with other Republicans last month in a five-page analysis.
The circulation of Morris’ May 28 letter – and recent public support from five major law firm leaders – could signal a shift in the House opposition to Thorne-Begland, the Richmond prosecutor who was denied a general district judgeship by the General Assembly last month.
Some opponents who disclaimed any bias against homosexuals had focused on Thorne-Begland’s alleged violation of military rules barring political activity while in uniform. Morris’ letter seems designed to undercut or reverse that opposition.
Thorne-Begland – while serving in the Navy – had spoken out publicly against the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers. He appeared on television in civilian clothes, but wore his uniform when summoned to a Congressional hearing. Morris concluded his actions were proper under military law. We were unable to contact Morris for further comment.
If Richmond circuit judges were to appoint Thorne-Begland to the open seat on the general district bench, he would need majority support in the General Assembly to keep the seat past February.
Other attorneys reportedly have expressed an interest in appointment to the general district vacancy. Circuit court Chief Judge Richard D. Taylor Jr. did not return a call for information on the appointment process.