The 2015 Virginia General Assembly will have three seats to fill on Virginia’s appellate courts.
Besides the opening on the Supreme Court of Virginia created by the Dec. 31 resignation date of current Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser, two members of the Court of Appeals of Virginia will be leaving empty seats this year.
The mandatory retirement age of 70 years will force both Chief Judge Walter S. Felton Jr. and Judge Robert P. Frank to step down at the end of the year.
The Assembly is asking for recommendations on candidates for the appellate seats from statewide bar groups, including the Virginia State Bar.
The chairmen of the Courts of Justice committees are expected to request the recommendations in a letter this week.
The VSB’s 13-member Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee provides individual investigation and personal interviews of applicants for judgeships and makes recommendations to the selection authorities, in this case the Assembly courts committees.
Other statewide voluntary bar groups also participate in the evaluation and recommendation process.
The General Assembly elects state judges. Gov. Terry McAuliffe would fill vacant appellate court seats only if the Assembly could not agree on a candidate.
Felton was first elected to the Court of Appeals of Virginia in 2002. In 2006, he was elected as chief judge by the members of the court. In 2010, he was elected to an additional eight-year term on the court and is currently serving his third four-year term as chief judge. Felton has served as a William & Mary law professor, senior counsel to the attorney general, counsel to then-Gov. James S. Gilmore and director of policy in the governor’s office.
Frank is a former Newport News circuit judge who was named to the Court of Appeals in 1999.
The Assembly has not yet released its list of candidates to be interviewed Sept. 17 for 36 trial court judgeships in line for new funding this year.