Home / News Stories / Judicial freeze prompts greater use of ‘hired judges’ (access required)

Judicial freeze prompts greater use of ‘hired judges’ (access required)

With the shortage of judges in some areas of the state created by the freeze on filling judicial vacancies, attorneys are looking to a Virginia law that allows them to hire their own judge to handle a particular case. Virginia Code § 17.1-110 allows parties to a case to select a judge pro tempore to hear ...

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  1. Read the stories about Virginia law and politics over time and from some distance, and a clear pattern emerges. The institution of the judiciary in this Commonwealth is for all practical purposes under attack. No need to suggest a conspiracy or some directed efforts — but our system of government is steadily working in ways to undermine the effectiveness and independence of our courts and judges. The Supreme Court rules that deferring judgments is a power inherent in the process of adjudication: a Delegate-slash-Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney beats a hasty path to the Assembly to overturn the decision. The judiciary, bound to abstain from politics and maintain neutrality, has to silently await the outcome of this assault on the institution.

    Likewise, state revenues are tight, and are likely to stay that way. Every other interest group gets to push its way to the trough, and grab its share of tax expenditures, regulatory exemptions, or outright subsidy. The judiciary, again, is bound to stay basically silent as the Assembly repeatedly shorts the courts. Tricks like raiding the State Bar funds will only get us so far. The lawmakers in Richmond need to take some time and do some deep rethinking of the basic structure of government in this Commonwealth. They have grave responsibilities that no flashy lobbyist is pressing them to attend.

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