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VBA, VTLA make federal court endorsements

The Virginia Bar Association and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association have both recommended Sen. John S. Edwards and Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan for a vacancy on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck for a judgeship in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Although the lists share that common ground, they differ substantially on other candidates.

The VBA simply listed candidates in alphabetical order, with no ranking. Also on the 4th Circuit list are Patricia A. Millett, a federal appellate specialist with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington; James E. Ryan, a professor and academic associate dean at the University of  Virginia  law school; and John Charles Thomas, a senior partner at Hunton & Williams in Richmond and a former Virginia Supreme Court Justice.

Other candidates endorsed for the district court seat are Fairfax Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows and Michael R. Shebelskie, also a partner in Hunton & Williams’Richmond office.

The VTLA found Edwards, Keenan and Abingdon trial lawyer Mary Lynn Tate to be highly qualified for the 4th Circuit seat and Thomas and Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Larry G. Elder to be qualified.

It found Lauck, Richmond Circuit Judge Richard D. Taylor and Edward H. Starr Jr., a partner in the Richmond office of Troutman Sanders to be highly qualified for the district court seat and John A. Gibney, a partner at ThompsonMcMullan in Richmond, to be qualified.

The organizations made the recommendations at the request of U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner. Several other bar groups interviewed as many as 30 candidates and are expected to make their recommendations by Monday, the deadline set by the senators.

The senators are expected to recommend candidates to President Barack Obama, who will appoint the judges, subject to Senate approval.

By Alan Cooper

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