RICHMOND, VA – Following the Richmond City Circuit Court’s decision to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond City General District Court this afternoon, Republican legislative leaders including Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford), House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Deputy Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Majority Caucus Chairman Timothy Hugo (R-Prince William) and Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) issued the following statement:
“Today, the Richmond City Circuit Court exercised their statutory right to fill a vacancy in Richmond’s General District Court. We are surprised and disappointed that these judges did not afford the actions of the General Assembly due deference in coming to their decision. Our disappointment has nothing to do with the particular candidate in question, but rather reflects our feeling that in this case, the Richmond Circuit Court is not simply filling a judicial vacancy, but is substituting their judgment for that of the General Assembly and superseding the General Assembly’s vested Constitutional authority to choose judges.
The Circuit Courts may fill a vacancy with the candidate of their choice to ensure that the court will function properly until the General Assembly meets again and can elect a judge for a full term. The authority given to the Circuit Courts was not intended to function as an appeals process for candidates who have been previously rejected by the General Assembly. To place Mr. Thorne-Begland on the bench notwithstanding that rejection is to reach beyond the intended bounds of the Circuit Court’s authority to make such recess appointments.
It is premature to speculate as to who the General Assembly will ultimately select to fill the General District Court vacancy when we next convene in January 2013. We will carefully evaluate applicants for this seat based on their professional credentials, legal temperament and ability to interpret and apply the laws enacted by the General Assembly.”