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House rejects new term for Montgomery County judge

A circuit judge who sought to explain his low scores on performance surveys in December failed to overcome the misgivings of delegates at the General Assembly.

While the state Senate on Jan. 27 approved a second term on the circuit court bench for Judge Marcus H. Long Jr. of Christiansburg, the House left Long off its list of re-elected circuit judges.

The Assembly returned eight circuit judges, 19 general district judges and 19 juvenile and domestic relations judges to Virginia trial courts in voting that day. Legislators also approved a new term for state Supreme Court Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn.

Long told lawmakers he was “frankly embarrassed” at his survey scores when he interviewed with courts committee members Dec. 6 in Richmond. Long’s Judicial Performance Evaluations showed low marks for patience, respect, fairness and impartiality.

“I’m trying to watch my tone. My tone can be harsh at times,” Long said at his interview.

Resolutions prepared for incumbent judge re-elections for both the House and Senate omitted Long. Sen. William M. Stanley Jr., R- managed to get Long added back to the approved list in the Senate, but the House resisted.

The decision by the House “was not done lightly,” Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg told The Roanoke Times. He said many delegates told him they opposed another term because of Long’s performance reviews.

“The performance was too difficult for me to ignore,” Hurst was quoted as saying.

Long’s term ends June 30.

Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said an effort was underway to find a successor. The Assembly will fill vacant judgeships later in the session, which ends March 7.

Updated Jan. 29 to note the expiration of Long’s term.