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Wythe judge resigns

If House Bill 1753 was aimed at M. Keith Blankenship, the juvenile and domestic relations district judge in Wythe County who was twice convicted of traffic offenses last year, it won’t be necessary.

Blankenship took an indefinite leave of absence after being charged with drunken driving in Smyth County on March 1 and with hit and run in Powhatan County on May 3.The Division of Legislative Services confirmed today that Blankenship submitted his resignation to the Supreme Court of Virginia, effective Dec. 31.

Under HB 1753, sponsored by Del. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Galax, the term of any district judge convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor or a felony would end 30 days after the start of the next session of the General Assembly.

Part of  Wythe County is in  Carrico’s legislative district, and, although Blankenship sat primarily in Wythe, he is a judge of the 27th Judicial District that includes seven other counties. He was appointed to the bench in 2005.

A former Wythe commonwealth’s attorney, Blankenship pleaded guilty in May to reckless driving and refusing to submit to a breath test in the Smyth County incident and to misdemeanor hit and run in the Powhatan case. In that incident, he ran off the side of a road, hit a telephone line box, crossed the road, hit an embankment and uprooted a tree before leaving the scene.

The reckless driving and hit-and-run charges are Class 1 misdemeanors.

By Alan Cooper

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