Virginia’s two U.S. senators have recommended both U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck and Richmond Circuit Judge Clarence N. Jenkins Jr. for the new federal district bench seat to be opened in March.
In a joint letter to President Obama, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said both Lauck and Jenkins are sitting judges with exemplary records as attorneys and judges in the Richmond community. The senators said both candidates were rated “highly qualified” by the Virginia State Bar’s screening panel.
“Not only do these two individuals have outstanding experience and ability, we also believe they both possess the integrity and character necessary for the job,” Warner and Kaine wrote.
University of Richmond law Prof. Carl Tobias said the Warner-Kaine endorsement today means there could be a judge nominated and confirmed by March. Obama cannot nominate a candidate until Sept. 8, when Congress returns, but late September is more realistic, Tobias said. The Senate takes an average of seven months from nomination to confirmation, he said.
The judgeship will be created by the announced decision of U.S. District Judge James Spencer to take senior status.
Twelve candidates expressed interest in the judgeship. The VSB’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee rated five contenders as highly qualified. Other bar groups also rated candidates.