Monday, February 4, 2008

Time running on Supreme Court, CAV nominees

Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn and Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. of the Virginia Court of Appeals could be out of a job Saturday.

Nobody expects that to happen, but their appointments by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine expire Friday in the absence of action by the General Assembly.

Del. David B. Albo, R-Fairfax, chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, said Goodwyn and Millette are excellent appointments, but the House has, in effect, placed a hold on electing them and also on reelecting court of appeals Judges Jean Harrison Clements on Robert J. Humphreys, whose terms expire later in the year.

Albo and Del. Jerry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, another powerful member of the courts committee and chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, said the action is intended as a reminder to the Democratic governor and Senate they still have to deal with the House and Republicans on judicial appointments.

They suggested that House Republicans are looking toward having a substantial say in filling a vacancy on the State Corporation Commission created by the retirement of Theodore V. Morrison Jr. and an empty seat on the Workers’ Compensation Commission created by the departure of Lawrence D. Tarr.

The position of the Republicans may signal hardball in filling judicial vacancies in the lower courts as well. They were contentious enough when the Republicans controlled both houses and only figure to get worse with control split between the two houses.

The candidates historically have been chosen by a caucus of the party in control of each house of the legislature, with legislators from the area where the judge will serve typically having the final say.

Although it’s a little early for the horse-trading to start, Kilgore said, the governor and circuit judges may have more seats to fill than is usually the case. They pick lower court judges if the legislative session expires without a seat being filled.

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