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Judges asked to keep logs of their time

ROANOKE—The Supreme Court of Virginia expects to have plenty of data to back up its proposal for realignment of judicial boundaries when it hands the plan to the General Assembly in November.

Legislators proposed a judicial realignment plan in the 2010 General Assembly, but deferred to the Supreme Court for review and advice about the suggested changes. In response, Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser launched what she called an “involved study process” to gather information on how the maps of circuits and districts should be redrawn.

Kinser appointed a 22-member committee that will design a new map of judicial circuits and districts is gathering detailed information on judges’ workloads to back up its recommendations.

Virginia judges are being asked to keep exacting records of their daily activities for a month.

Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas D. Horne chairs the panel studying judicial realignment. He urged fellow judges to fill out the logs, despite the inconvenience. “You may be unhappy with it … , but that log is extremely important,” he hold participants at the Virginia Judicial Conference last Tuesday.

Horne said the logs would be used to develop workload patterns so the work is more evenly distributed under a revised judicial map.

Horne assured the judges the logs would not fall into the hands of legislators “to be used as a weapon against you in the reappointment process.” The judicial workload data is considered confidential, he said, and is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

Horne said the log goes beyond a lawyer’s timesheet. “It’s more complicated than that,” he said. “It’s a breakdown of everything you could be doing during the day.”

“I can in all honesty say I have never done this before, and having done it I now know how chaotic my day can be,” Horne told fellow judges.

Horne said he tacked the log on the door of his restroom, to remind him to attend to the task before he goes on the bench, after he comes off the bench and before he goes home in the evening.

Judge designates also are expected to fill out the log sheets.

Horne announced a schedule of six hearings in July to receive comments on judicial realignment.

“I expect the hearings to be telling,” Horne said.

Tentative schedule of hearings:
July 7 – Abingdon
July 11 – J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Parham Road campus
July 13 – Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
July 14 – Hampton Roads
July 18 – Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave
July 21 – Danville Community College

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