Friday, July 07, 2006

The Futures Commission

The Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century has a page on the Virginia judiciary website, with a link to its 131 pages of preliminary recommendations. The website also lists the members of the Commission and its various task forces. There are some strong, no-nonsense names on those lists, of the people that I know.

One of the preliminary recommendations is: "The constitutional office of Clerk of the Circuit Court should be eliminated. In its place, each Circuit Court should appoint a court administrator to perform all of the duties currently performed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court." At the public hearing in Abingdon last night, two of the clerks of court explained their opposition to this recommendation.

Another one of the recommendations is:

"Virginia has an outstanding judiciary. It is vitally important to maintain public confidence in the quality and integrity of Virginia’s courts. To ensure Virginia continues to have men and women of the highest quality serve on the bench, it is recommended:

(1) For election to statewide courts:
(a) The General Assembly should appoint a Judicial Nominations
Commission (JNC) which reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth.
The members of the JNC shall include the Presidents (or their designees)
of the Virginia State Bar and such voluntary statewide bar associations as
may be selected by the General Assembly and members of the public.
(b) The JNC shall evaluate candidates according to standards and criteria
which shall include:
1. Integrity;
2. Legal knowledge and ability;
3. Professional experience;
4. Judicial temperament; and
5. Such other factors as the General Assembly may consider
(c) For each vacancy, the JNC shall submit to the General Assembly the
names of more than one candidate deemed 'qualified' or 'well
qualified.' The General Assembly should elect judges from the slate
submitted by the JNC.
(2) For election to trial courts:
(a) The process of electing trial court judges should reflect the particular
circumstances and needs of each jurisdiction.
(b) In every jurisdiction, the administration of justice benefits when the
selection process includes input from the local legal community and the
public. Therefore, local bar associations should communicate with their
legislators to establish a process by which the local legal community may
assist the General Assembly in identifying the best qualified candidates.
(3) For reelection: In order to preserve judicial independence, judges should be
reelected unless there are compelling non-political reasons not to reelect."

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