Friday, March 14, 2008

Legislature can’t agree on judges

Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Robert J. Humphreys apparently will be off the bench – at least temporarily – because of an impasse in the General Assembly over the appointment of judges.

The legislature had an opportunity to fill more than two dozen vacancies when it met last night to complete work on the 2008-10 state budget. Instead, after completing most of the work on the budget, it voted to hold a special session for consideration of a bond issue and the appointment of the judges. Under the Virginia Constitution and legislative rules, that can’t happen until April 23. Humphreys’ term expires April 15

Senate Republicans on Monday tried to get their Democratic colleagues to agree to the reappointment of Humphreys and another CAV judge, Jean Harrison Clements, but the Democrats rejected the proposal. Clements’ term expires June 30.

Some legislators, such as Del. Bill Janis, R-Henrico, and Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, have pressed to have the legislature fill the vacancies for which there is no controversy, but others have insisted that the action occur in a block vote.

The positions on which legislators have been unable to agree are a State Corporation Commission seat, circuit judgeships in Virginia Beach and Norfolk and a general district position in the circuit that includes Roanoke and Salem.

An article written before last night’s legislative session that will appear in Monday’s Virginia Lawyers Weekly has an analysis of the situation.

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