Judgeship to be filled

Published 9:14 am Saturday, March 5, 2011


SOUTHAMPTON—The General Assembly has approved filling the 5th District Circuit Court judgeship vacated by Westbrook Parker, who retired in June.

The approval paves the way for the state lawmakers to elect a judge to serve Franklin, Suffolk and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

Chief Judge Rodham T. Delk Jr. said he did not know if anyone has expressed an interest in the $163,000-a-year position. State Delegate William Barlow, D-Smithfield, who serves on the Courts of Justice Committee, said he is aware of four or five, but would not name them.

Applicants must be attorneys who live within the 5th District. Circuit court judges serve eight-year terms. The maximum age to serve is 70.

Judicial interviews are scheduled for 3 p.m. April 5 with an election the next day.

Presently in Virginia, the Republicans have the majority in the House, and the Democrats in the Senate.

“It makes it a bit more of a challenge,” said Barlow. “But the caucus usually goes along with the opinion of the local legislator. I think we’ve got an excellent group of judges, and am confident and hopeful we’ll be successful once again.”

If the General Assembly fails to agree, the governor could make an interim temporary appointment, he said.

“Regardless, the matter goes back up at the next session,” Barlow said. “In January 2012, the assembly can agree with the governor’s choice, or put someone else in.”

Incidentally, picking two judges might occur if the legislature chooses a district judge for a circuit position, he said. Then the vacancy in the district would have to be filled.

Since Parker’s retirement after nearly 25 years in the seat, Delk and Judge Carl Edward Eason Jr. have been assisted by eight substitute judges, according to Rick Francis, clerk of the Southampton Circuit Court.