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Judges, including Thorne-Begland, certified by courts committee

In a block vote, the Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee today certified candidates interviewed in December and today for judicial posts they currently occupy. That includes Richmond General District Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, an openly gay former prosecutor appointed to the bench by Richmond Circuit Court judges last summer.

A vote by the courts committees allows the names of the two groups of sitting judges to advance for consideration by the full General Assembly. Sen. Thomas Norment, R-Williamsburg, chair of the Senate Courts committee, appeared at today’s joint meeting of the Senate Courts Committee and the House Judicial Panel and told Thorne-Begland “you will be certified and elected on the Senate side.”

Thorne-Begland and committee members agreed that his judicial candidacy, crushed in the early morning hours of the closing days of last year’s legislative session, had fallen prey to a lot of “misinformation” circulating about whether he had violated his military oath while protesting the earlier policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Members of the local Richmond delegation assured legislators that Thorne-Begland continued to enjoy their unanimous support. Del. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, referred legislators to a packet of materials supporting Thorne-Begland, including endorsements by the Richmond Criminal Bar Association and a legal memorandum by law professors, including military law expert and former Naval officer John Paul Jones, concluding that Thorne-Begland had not violated military law during his service.

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–Deborah Elkins

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