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Seven seek seat on high court

Paul Fletcher//June 17, 2015

Seven seek seat on high court

Paul Fletcher//June 17, 2015//

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Empty-benchSeven people – four judges, two lawyers in private practice and a law professor – have been seeking bar endorsements for a pending seat on the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Justice LeRoy F. Millette Jr. will be retiring from the court July 31. Gov. Terry McAuliffe set a June 15 deadline for applications for his seat. The governor said he will consider recommendations from statewide bar associations.

The seven candidates who sought bar endorsements are, in alphabetical order:

W. Coleman Allen Jr. Allen, who practices with the Richmond office of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, is a past president of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.

Court of Appeals Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. Alston has been a member of the intermediate court since 2009 and was a circuit judge and J&DR judge in Prince William County before that.

Frank K. Friedman. Friedman was admitted to the bar in 1985 and specializes in appellate advocacy with the Roanoke firm of Woods Rogers.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Glen A. Huff. Huff was elected to the appeals court in 2011 after practicing with the firm then known as Huff, Poole & Mahoney in Virginia Beach.

Norfolk Circuit Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. Martin, admitted to practice in 1977, was elected a circuit judge for the 4th Circuit in 2003.

Fairfax Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush. Roush joined the circuit bench in Fairfax in 1993 after practicing law in Northern Virginia.

Prof. A. Benjamin Spencer. Spencer joined the law faculty at the University of Virginia law school last year, after a stint at the Washington & Lee law school. He was a special assistant U.S. attorney before entering academia.

Bar endorsements

Unlike the case with most appellate openings, there will be no recommendations from the Virginia State Bar. The bar’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee did not have time to interview candidates and make recommendations by the deadline set by the governor, according to VSB Executive Director Karen A. Gould.

Four statewide bars cranked up their endorsement machinery, and here are their endorsements:

VBA. The Virginia Bar Association, the largest voluntary bar in the state, endorsed five of the seven candidates: Alston, Friedman, Huff, Martin and Roush, according to Executive Director Yvonne McGhee.

VTLA. The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, a bar primarily for attorneys who handle plaintiffs’ claims, found five of the candidates – Allen, Alston, Friedman, Huff and Roush – to be “highly qualified,” according to Jack L. Harris, executive director. The VTLA found Spencer to be “qualified.”

VADA. The Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, a group comprised mostly of civil defense litigators, endorsed all seven of the candidates, said Jill Wells Nunnally, the VADA executive director.

ODBA. The Old  Dominion Bar Association, historically Virginia’s minority bar, provided a range of its endorsements.

According to ODBA President Helivi Holland, the ODBA Judicial Evaluation Committee found Alston to be “highly qualified and recommended.”

Huff, Martin, Roush and Spencer all were “highly qualified.”

And Allen and Friedman were “qualified,” according to the ODBA.

Carlos Hopkins, counsel to the governor, will be handling the applications for McAuliffe. He could not be reached for comment.

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