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Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, said the region’s delegation lobbied hard for funds for the positions to be restored.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Proposals to fill judicial vacancies — including two empty benches in the Roanoke Valley — were among the 52 budget amendments Gov. Bob McDonnell submitted late Monday.
Of the $14.1 million in amendments McDonnell proposed to the General Assembly, $1.8 million of that would restore funding for 11 judicial positions, according to Jeff Caldwell, the governor’s press secretary. Those were determined either by heavy caseloads or by their number of vacancies, and would include both a Circuit Court judgeship and a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judgeship in the 23rd Judicial Circuit, which serves Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem.
Within that circuit, Judge Robert “Pat” Doherty retired last month and Judge Jonathan Apgar is set to step down at the end of this week. Juvenile Court Judge John Ferguson is also due to retire.
The judgeships were funded in the budget passed by the House of Delegates but were dropped when a conference committee of delegates and state senators negotiated a final version.
Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, said Tuesday that the region’s delegation lobbied hard for the funds to be restored.
Last month, in anticipation of relief, the Roanoke Bar Association endorsed candidates to fill the judicial vacancies, including attorneys David Carson for the Circuit Court position and Leisa Ciaffone for the J&D vacancy.
McDonnell also has proposed funding a General District Court judgeship in Montgomery County, which is at least 40 percent above the statewide caseload average.
“As our economy continues to recover, it is time that we move forward with filling more of the judicial vacancies that we have previously held as a means of generating savings,” McDonnell told the Virginia House of Delegates on Monday. “You approved funding for 20 vacancies in the budget.
“Together, we will have provided funding for 31 of the 49 current vacancies, meaning the faster disposition of justice,” he added.
The proposals will be voted on when the General Assembly reconvenes next week.
Staff writer David Ress contributed to this report.
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