Three judges up for re-election to new terms on the bench were left off the list of judges winning early-session General Assembly approval Jan. 24. Any of them could be approved for new terms later in the session.
Legislators removed Chesterfield County Circuit Judge Lynn Brice, Loudoun County Circuit Judge Jeanette Irby and Fairfax County General District Judge Mitchell Mutnick from the slates of judges being re-elected to new terms. All three faced questions from legislators about their scores on Judicial Performance Evaluation surveys and other matters.
Brice faced sharp questions Dec. 10 about her service on the bench in Colonial Heights, part of the 12th Circuit. Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, cited reports that Brice rarely sat in that city’s courthouse and created a “toxic” work environment there. A clerk told Morrissey that working with Brice was “untenable.” Brice responded by saying scheduling in Colonial Heights was inefficient and frustrating.
Mutnick acknowledged low scores on patience and respect. He described COVID-regimented court procedures in the Fairfax General District Court, hampered by the absence of prosecutors on most misdemeanor cases. “It was a rough year,” he told legislators at his December interview.
Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax County, said Jan. 21 that the Fairfax delegation determined that Mutnick should be removed from the House certification list, but he said the action would not preclude Mutnick from being reconsidered later in the session.
Irby was questioned in December about low scores for demeanor, patience, courtesy, knowledge of the law and faithfulness to the law. She said she took advice from a mentor judge and endeavored to improve.
Fairfax GDC Judge H. Michael Cantrell — also facing low performance scores — withdrew from consideration for re-election before the Assembly certification process.
Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Mary E. Langer, whose scores triggered opposition from Morrissey, survived to win another term. She had the support of Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, at a Jan. 19 committee meeting.
Two solo lawyers were named to the bench in the Jan. 24 judicial elections. Fairfax County attorney Christie A. Leary was elected to the court’s circuit court, effective March 1. Fairfax attorney Vanessa R. Jordan was selected for a general district term beginning April 1.
Three general district judges already serving pro tempore appointments were elected to full terms. Former Norfolk Del. Joe Lindsey was named to the bench by circuit judges in November 2021. Former Winchester Del. Chris Collins was appointed in June of 2020. Former Chincoteague attorney Patrick A. Robbins was selected for the bench in April of 2021.