Bell’s committee looks at judge candidates

Delegate Rob Bell has named his own citizen advisory committee to scrutinize the candidates for the soon-to-open 16th Judicial Circuit seat at a 7pm public meeting January 16 at Hollymead Elementary.

Bell's fellow lawyers at the Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Association already have picked two candidates they deem "highly qualified" to succeed Judge Paul Peatross, who retires January 31: Charlottesville General District Court Judge Robert Downer and former prosecutor Cheryl Higgins. Glaringly omitted: Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos.

Other local lawyers interested in the bench are prosecutors Claude Worrell and Jon Zug, and private practice attorneys Patricia Brady and Lee Livingston.

Bell is not bound to go with the recommendation of his peers. "They are just one of the groups who are going to give input," he says.

In choosing his own advisors, "I'm trying to get people not directly thinking about tomorrow's case," explains Bell.

Former prosecutor Richard DeLoria, former Albemarle cop Dan Blake, retired probation officer Alan Rasmussen, domestic violence expert Kris Hall and unaffiliated citizen Simona Holloway Warren will judge the seven would-be judges at the public forum tomorrow night, and then make their recommendations. Bell, in Richmond, is unlikely to attend.

Before Christmas, Bell and Delegate David Toscano told the Hook that they would put together a committee and hold a public hearing. But when the Hook spoke to Bell last week, he said, "This is going to be mine. David Toscano may be doing his own." Toscano did not return phone calls by blog time.

If the legislators who have a piece of the 16th Judicial Circuit agree on a judge, that decision typically is rubberstamped by the General Assembly. If they don't agree, Peatross' replacement could be named by Governor Tim Kaine.

3 comments

So a prosecutor, cop, probation officer, domestic violence expert, and "unaffiliated citizen" are going to make a recommendation. Any input from the other side of the courtroom (i.e. defense attorneys)? Any input from non criminal elements, such as those attorneys who still handle torts, wills, estates, trusts, etc? Could this "advisory committee" be any better-stacked to deliver a pre-ordained recommendation for Camblos?

Look, everybody knows Rob Bell is on this (borderline obsessive) law-and-order kick in hopes of becoming Attorney General in 2009, but how about a little balance here?

And did anybody seriously think Bell would actually "cooperate" with a Democrat to try to reach the best possible decision? He'd be spanked and shunned by his neogestapo colleagues if he did anything that wacko.

Say hello to "Judge Camblos." Bell doesn't give a rat's ass what the "community" wants. If it doesn't have an elephant tatooed on it and/or doesn't let him say he's Mr Law and Order, it simply doesn't exist to him.

Maybe this year the Dems will run something more than a warm body against him. If you to keep him away from the Attorney General's office, this is the way to do it. Just like keeping Macaca out of the White House. Stop them now.

quote> "So a prosecutor, cop, probation officer, domestic violence expert, and ââ?¬Å?unaffiliated citizen” are going to make a recommendation."

This is some pretty funny stuff!

All we need on the panel now is a veterinarian. :)

I seem to recall that the last judge picked by this system was Judge Downer. I do not believe he had any GOP or prosecutor credentials. If he did, I have not seen them manifest in court.

Virginia had a tradition of one-party politics for most of the past 100 years. Judgeships were awarded to Democrats who met with V. Earl Dickinson's approval. My recollection of newspaper coverage back then was that the process not open.

Give some credit to the opening of the process. At least this way we get to see the biases of our legislators.