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Armstrong, Dillon recommended for WD judgeship

Virginia’s two U.S. senators have recommended former Martinsville Del. Ward L. Armstrong and Salem lawyer Elizabeth K. Dillon for a soon-to-be vacated seat on the federal bench in the Western District.

President Barack Obama will make the nomination for the judgeship, subject to approval by the U.S. Senate.

The seat is being vacated by the retirement of U.S. District Judge Samuel G. Wilson in August.

“Both these individuals have been screened by the Virginia State Bar and rated highly qualified,” the senators wrote in a June 6 recommendation letter to Obama.

“Since opening his own practice at age of 23, Mr. Armstrong has appeared in both federal and state courts at all levels, handling both civil and criminal matters,” the senators wrote.

“Ms. Dillon defends local governments, constitutional officers, school boards and other public entities and their employees in federal and state trial and appellate courts, as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” the letter said.

“I am deeply honored by the recommendation and am grateful for the confidence the Senators have shown in me,” Dillon said.

Both are well qualified candidates, said University of Richmond law Prof. Carl Tobias, who studies judicial selection.

“Others whom the VSB strongly recommended are similarly qualified,” Tobias said, referring to U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou, U.S. District Court Clerk Julia C. Dudley and University of Virginia law Prof. Rachel A. Harmon.

The White House has taken around three months to nominate judicial candidates, Tobias said. A committee hearing and confirmation by the Senate have taken about six months recently, he said. “My guess would be confirmation in spring of next year,” Tobias said.

The process is near an end for U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck, nominated for the seat of Senior U.S. District Judge James Spencer. The full Senate is set to vote on her nomination this week.

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