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.