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Senators recommend 2 for Lee judgeship

Virginia’s U.S. senators have recommended two choices for the federal judgeship of retired Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. The candidates are federal prosecutor Patricia T. Giles and Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr.

Giles and Alston were recommended by an independent panel of attorneys selected by Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to interview candidates, according to a joint statement from the senators. A Virginia State Bar evaluation panel listed Giles as highly qualified and Alston as qualified.

President Trump will now nominate one candidate to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Eastern District judgeship. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Lee, 65, retired in September.

In a letter to Trump, the senators said they believed both Giles and Alston would continue the legacy of Lee, who mentored young people and “fostered the careers of generations of lawyers from the minority Bar.”

Both Alston and Giles are African American.

Giles, who once served as a clerk for Lee, serves on the major crimes unit of the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District, the senators said. Among the serious cases she has worked on is the prosecution of MS-13 gang members for the capital murder of a federal witness, the letter said.

The VSB evaluation panel described Giles as “always well prepared with a high intellect, an exceptional lawyer, battle tested through many trials and a heavy motions practice, a beautiful writer and a critical thinker.”

Alston was named to the Prince William County juvenile and domestic relations bench in 1998 and was elected to the circuit court in 2001. He was named to the Court of Appeals in 2009. He has been active in the Old Dominion Bar Association, teaches at the George Mason University law school and referees high school football.

Alston told interviewers with the VSB panel that he wanted to return to trial work. The committee described him as a “hard worker” who “asks practical questions that go to the heart of the case and are not esoteric.”

In 2016, Alston was advanced by Republican legislators as a candidate for a Virginia Supreme Court vacancy after they objected to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recess appointment of Justice Jane Marum Roush. Alston had to step aside when a Republican legislator refused to vote to replace Roush.

“Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would serve in the judiciary with great distinction and we are honored to recommend them to you,” the senators wrote to Trump.

The senators’ evaluation committee also interviewed attorney George Doumar, assistant U.S. attorney Jay Prabhu and U. S. magistrate judges Lawrence Leonard and David Novack.

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