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Assembly budget plans would fill more judgeships

General Assembly budget reports are out, and both bodies are more generous to the courts than the governor in terms of allocating money for judgeships.

Both the House and Senate money committees recommend filling more vacant judgeships than the 15 proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, but the House and Senate differ in some cases on where the judges are most needed.

The House budget report would have the state pay for unfreezing 32 judgeships that are vacant or will become vacant during 2013. The Senate plan would unfreeze 26 judgeships.

Fairfax County would get two circuit court vacancies unfrozen under the Senate plan, but no new circuit judges under the House plan. On the other hand, the House budget report includes money for two circuit judgeships in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth, positions that would be unfilled under the Senate proposal.

The House report also would pay for two circuit court judgeships in the Roanoke Valley and Lynchburg, where the Senate plan would not.

The House panel proposes to fund general district judgeships in the 25th District, where a Waynesboro judge retired, and for Lynchburg. The Senate plan did not include money for those vacancies.

The sprawling 15th Circuit would get two new circuit judges and two new general district judges under the House plan, but only one each under the Senate proposal. The 15th Circuit includes Fredericksburg, Hanover County and the Northern Neck.

Both the House and Senate proposals would fund one general district judgeship in Fairfax County, where the bench and bar have pointed to urgent needs not reflected in the current caseload statistics.

Neither body proposes hiring a new judge for Norfolk Circuit Court, where the reported caseload is said to be 21.8 percent above average after the departure of two judges last year.

One comment

  1. Lawyers, clerks and citizens experiencing unusual delays and scheduling problems need to tell the General Assembly members how important it is to fill these positions. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue…this is about funding the basics of government.

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