The second of two bills that would have limited the appointment power of Virginia circuit judges has met defeat at the General Assembly.
Seen as a reaction to the appointment of former prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland as a Richmond general district judge, the bills would have prevented interim appointment of judge candidates who were rejected by the Assembly. Thorne-Begland was appointed by Richmond circuit judges after he failed to win sufficient votes in the House of Delegates last year.
The Senate Courts Committee voted eight-to-five with one abstention Wednesday to kill Senate Bill 693, offered by Sen. Richard H. Black, R-Leesburg. A House version was set aside earlier this month. A constitutional amendment to similarly restrict the governor on interim judicial appointments also met defeat.
Republican leaders in the House last year denounced Thorne-Begland’s post-session interim appointment as an affront to the Assembly’s judicial election authority, but the Assembly nevertheless elected Thorne-Begland to a full term in this year’s session.
Thorne-Begland, who makes no secret of his same-sex domestic relationship, made headlines as Virginia’s first openly gay judge.