A Roanoke juvenile court judge has been endorsed by a local legal organization to fill an impending vacancy on the valley’s circuit court.
At a meeting Tuesday, the 109 members of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association named Leisa Ciaffone as their choice to succeed Judge William Broadhurst when he retires March 1.
Broadhurst’s replacement within the 23rd Circuit must be appointed by both houses of the General Assembly, which opened its regular session Wednesday but typically doesn’t vote to fill judicial vacancies until later in its session.
Ciaffone, 58, became a juvenile and domestic relations court judge in 2013 and last year was tapped to serve a second six-year term. She graduated from Hollins University and the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law. Starting in 1987, she was an attorney for Gentry Locke, then opened a solo practice in 2001, which she ran until she took the bench.
In a 2018 Virginia Supreme Court judicial performance evaluation report, based on the surveys of roughly 90 local attorneys, 94% of respondents rated Ciaffone’s overall work as “excellent,” the highest possible level on the four-tier scale.
The county bar association previously offered its endorsement to Ciaffone in 2015, on the retirement of Judge Clifford Weckstein. That seat ultimately was filled by General District Court Judge Chris Clemens.
Three other candidates considered by the county bar association were current juvenile court judges Frank Rogers III and Onzlee Ware, and Roanoke attorney Melissa Friedman.
The area’s other leading legal group, the Roanoke Bar Association, plans to hold its endorsement meeting early next week.
The 23rd Circuit serves Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem. Of the judges who have taken the bench in the 23rd Circuit, only one has been a woman: Judge Diane Strickland, who retired in 2002.