Jason Boleman//July 26, 2021
Jason Boleman//July 26, 2021//
A Virginia State Bar committee has reported recommendations to the General Assembly for 45 candidates for seven vacancies on the Virginia Court of Appeals.
The VSB’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee, or JCEC, rated candidates as “qualified” or “highly qualified” for the court.
The candidates were recommended based on votes taken across several interview dates, including three interviews since July 1. Other candidates were recommended based on votes taken in prior years, stretching as far back as 2007.
The evaluation results mark a resolution to a lengthy review process during a transitional period for the Court of Appeals. Legislation passed during the most recent General Assembly session expanded the jurisdiction of the court by providing an appeal of right in every civil case. As a result, the legislature expanded the Court of Appeals from 11 to 17 judges to handle a projected increased workload. The expanded jurisdiction goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022. Prior to this legislation, Virginia was the only state without a guaranteed right to appellate review.
The move to expand the court was endorsed by the Virginia Bar Association and the Judicial Council of Virginia. The vote on the measure was split across party lines, with Republicans unanimously opposing the bill over concerns that a new influx of judges would drastically change the makeup of the court.
In addition, the seat of now-U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. remains vacant. Alston was elevated to the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2019. Eleven candidates evaluated for Alston’s seat in February of 2020 by the VSB committee are listed among the candidates for the appeals court seats.
The General Assembly originally aimed to select new judges by July 1, but that did not come to fruition. Gov. Ralph Northam called for a special session to begin on Aug. 2 to fill judicial vacancies and allocate federal relief funding. Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Springfield, wrote in the Falls Church News Press on July 1 that the General Assembly will fill the Court of Appeals vacancies during the special session.
The 29 candidates recommended as “highly qualified” by the VSB panel, along with vote count and the date the JCEC provided the ranking, are:
The 16 candidates recommended as “qualified” by the VSB panel, along with vote count and the date the JCEC provided the ranking, are: