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New leadership for JIRC

The Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission has elected a new chairman and vice chairman.

Effective Sept. 15, Fauquier lawyer James P. Fisher will succeed Norfolk lawyer Martin A. Thomas as chair of the commonwealth’s judicial oversight agency. Fisher, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Loudoun County, is the current vice chairman. The commission elected Olivia A. Welsh as its new vice chair. Welsh is the owner of Livia Properties in Staunton and a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

JIRC stays busy trying to help judges avoid trouble. The agency invests a lot of time responding to telephone and written inquiries, from a lot of different players in the legal system. But sometimes things get serious.

Figures reported to the General Assembly for 2009 show that the commission opened 20 files, with complaints coming from multiple categories: Five each from attorneys and judges, four each from litigants and the commission, and one each from court staff and from an inmate.

The agency reported 33 dispositions for 2009, including 16 matters dismissed and two instances in which JIRC issued formal charges. The full report is here.
By Deborah Elkins

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