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VSB to evaluate 18 for Supreme Court vacancy

Jason Boleman//October 11, 2021

VSB to evaluate 18 for Supreme Court vacancy

Jason Boleman//October 11, 2021

The Virginia State Bar is set to evaluate 18 candidates for an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The individual selected will replace Judge William C. Mims, who announced his retirement from the bench on July 28. Mims, who has served on the court since 2010, will retire when his term ends on March 31, 2022.

“As I approach my 65th birthday in June 2022, the time has come to discern other opportunities to serve,” Mims wrote in a letter announcing his decision to retire.

The VSB was one of nine bar groups asked to evaluate candidates for an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court of Virginia by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, and Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria.

The candidates are from diverse backgrounds and represent current judges, attorneys and law professors.

The 18 candidates, along with their current positions and locations, are:

  • Fairfax Circuit Judge David Bernhard
  • Washington D.C. attorney Tillman J. Breckenridge
  • Richmond attorney and former VSB president Brian L. Buniva
  • Roanoke Circuit Judge David B. Carson
  • Salem Circuit Judge J. Christopher Clemens
  • Charlottesville attorney Gregory S. Duncan
  • Loudoun County Circuit Judge Douglas L. Fleming Jr.
  • College of William & Mary law professor Jennifer R. Franklin
  • Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Frank K. Friedman
  • Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Glen A. Huff
  • Norfolk Circuit Judge David W. Lannetti
  • Richmond attorney Robert W. Loftin
  • Supreme Court Chief Staff Attorney K. Lorraine Lord
  • Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Mary B. Malveaux
  • Fairfax County Circuit Judge Thomas P. Mann
  • Williamsburg attorney Patricia A. Rene
  • Stafford County Circuit Judge Victoria A.B. Willis
  • Virginia Indigent Defense Commission counsel Catherine French Zagurskie

Eight of the candidates were previously evaluated by the bar for vacancies filled on the Virginia Court of Appeals earlier this year. Bernhard, Clemens, Fleming, Friedman, Lannetti and Lord were recommended as “highly qualified” by the VSB panel, while Franklin and Willis were recommended as “qualified.”

The General Assembly named seven new judges to the Court of Appeals during a special session in August due to the expansion of the court to 17 judges. One of the new judges, Frank K. Friedman, is a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy.

The candidates are scheduled to be interviewed Nov. 10. The VSB has yet to determine if interviews will be conducted virtually or in person. The letter from Edwards and Herring recommends that the bar groups finish recommendations by Dec. 1 and states that the judge elected would begin serving the court on April 1, 2022, one day after Mims’ retirement.

Mims’ seat will be filled by the 2022 General Assembly when the body convenes this winter, meaning the new judge will be selected after the results of November’s elections. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election. Democrats presently hold a 55-45 seat advantage in the chamber.

The state senate is not up for reelection, meaning Democrats will hold the party’s 21-19 seat advantage in the 2022 General Assembly session.

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