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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Virginia Citizen Calls for impeachment of Fauquier County Judge

Louisa County, VA resident Greg Harrington has begun a campaign to impeach Fauquier County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Parker.  Harrington recently won his case involving Judge Parker with a unanimous opinion in his favor from the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Watch Harrington's video on You Tube (click on You Tube link below).  We will be bringing you more information about this case soon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Obama: Is he selling judgeships for healthcare votes?

The Weekly Standard is questioning whether Obama is selling judgeships for healthcare votes.  What do you think about his recent judicial nomination?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Court Dysfunction Results in No Juries in Chesterfield County

The Richmond Times Dispatch has reported that no jury trials can take place in Chesterfield County because of a judicial oversight.  All jury trials have had to be continued until the court can impanel juries.  According to Virginia law, the chief judge of each circuit court is required to appoint jury commissioners by July 1 of each year.  Judge Michael Allen, chief judge of Chesterfield County Circuit Court, failed to appoint jury commissioners until December 4, more than five months after the deadline!  What's worse, Judge Allen has tried to shift the blame to court personnel.  Our concern is that justice delayed is justice denied and that criminals may walk if they aren't granted their right to a speedy trial.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Judicial Interviews: The Highlights

The Pitchfork Rebellion was present at the Judicial Interviews in Richmond before the Courts of Justice Committee on December 17, 2009.  The committee interviewed a slate of incumbent judges whose terms expire in 2010 as well as several Pro Tempore judges.  Here are the highlights (email us at if you have questions about other judges that were interviewed Dec 17 and are not mentioned below):

Judge Michael Moore (29th Judicial Circuit) came before the committee & was endorsed by his law school classmate Del. Kilgore.

Judge Edward Turner (27th Judicial Distict) announced he will retire at the end of his next term, if he is re-appointed.  Judge Turner is currently age 66.  One committee member inquired about Judge Turner's involvement as a board member for a non-profit land conservation organization.  Judge Turner indicated that his name does not appear on fundraising letters.

Senator John Edwards endorsed Judge William Alexander II (22nd Judicial Circuit).
Sen. Edwards is a long-time friend of Judge Alexander, whom he's known since law school.

Judge M. Lee Stilwell, Jr. (22nd Judicial District) appeared before the committee sporting a long, braided ponytail.  He referred to his courtroom as a place where, "everyone is equal."

Judge Elizabeth Kellas (26th Judicial District) was questioned about her name.  Apparently her married name is Elizabeth Burton, but she goes by Elizabeth Kellas professionally & her husband is a stay-at-home dad.

Judge Julia Cannon (20th Judicial District) was evaluated under the now defunct Judicial Performance Evaluation (JPE) program.  Her JPE indicated she needs improvement in her knowledge of the law & faithfulness to the law.  Del. Albo, chairman of the committee, asked Judge Cannon how she intends to address these apparent shortcomings.  Judge Cannon stated she needs to more diligently read the Court of Appeals and VA Supreme Court case law.  We wonder how a judge who has been sitting on the bench for years would not know the law and worse, why she would not be faithful to it?  Is this the best candidate for Chief Judge of the Loudoun General District Court?  We think not.

Judge Steven Smith (Judge Pro Tempore, 31st Judicial District) was endorsed by Del. Jackson Miller.  Jackson Miller and Judge Smith are friends; they served together on the Manassas City Council.  Part of his qualifications included the following: Judge Smith's father was a circuit court judge - ergo, he must have inherited a judicial gene from his father.

Judge Thomas Gallahue (19th Judicial District) was evaluated under the JPE program.  The JPE showed concerns about his faithfulness to the law and effective communication of decisions.

Judge Mitchell Mutnick (19th Judicial District) said he surveys people to find out their perceptions of his judicial performance.  Survey says: he didn't feel he got a lot of honest answers.

Judge Teena Grodner's JPE (19th Judicial District) revealed concerns about whether she gives consistent treatment to all parties.  

Judge Becky Moore's JPE (18th Judicial District) revealed concerns about fairness & consistency towards all parties.

Two citizens testified against Judge George Varoutsos (17th Judicial District).  Louis John Swallow, Jr. gave a rambling presentation without providing any substantial or credible concerns about the judge. Judge Varoutsos' response - he terminated Mr. Swallow's visitation rights after Mr. Swallow set himself on fire outside the Phillipine Embassy.

Attorney Roy Morris testified about the many problems in Arlington J&DR Court, whose chief Judge Esther Wiggins Lyles is Judge Varoutsos' boss.  Click here to listen to  Roy Morris' compelling testimony:

Judge Varoutsos' JPE revealed concerns about fairness to all parties, consistency & treatment of all parties, and effectiveness of communications.  Our take: time to clean house in Arlington J&DR!

Judge Alfreda Talton-Harris (5th Judicial District) came highly recommended by Senator Lucas, her former sorority sister, long-time friend and former colleague.  Judge Talton-Harris' evaluation was worse than other judges... there were many concerns about her demeanor; folks were primarily concerned she lacked dignity, respect and courtesy towards litigants and was not diligent in her judicial duties (translation: lazy, rude judge).  If she did not have a close relationship to Senator Lucas (which landed her the judgeship in the first place) we doubt she would be on the bench, much less be seeking re-appointment.  Perhaps she ought to update her resume.

Judge Pro Tempore Kenneth Melvin (3rd Judicial Circuit) was an interim appointment by Governor Kaine.  Melvin retired this year from the General Assembly, where he (like other judges in the Commonwealth) served on the Courts of Justice Committee.  Sen. Lucas endorsed Judge Melvin as his neighbor and friend of 25 years.

Judge William Moore, Jr. (3rd Judicial District) was evaluated under the JPE program.  His JPE raised the following issues: patience & treating litigants with dignity, respect & courtesy.

Judge James Matthews (4th Judicial District) just completed his first term.  He was endorsed by Sen. Stolle and Del Barlow, his law school classmate.

Judge Joseph Massey (4th Judicial District) received two JPE evaluations.  The more recent JPE showed 30% of respondents felt he had improved.  To his credit, Judge Massey volunteered that there were 2 complaints against him recently & that he had recused himself from one of the cases.  With a powerful family name like Massey, we anticipate Judge Massey will sail through.

Judge Pro Tempore Jeffrey Shaw (9th Judicial District) has been on the bench since June 1, 2009 as a sub judge.  He came before the committee seeking a full term appointment.  Sen. Tommy Norment endorsed Judge Shaw's candidacy.  His qualifications?  Judge Shaw's father was a judge in the same circuit!  He must have inherited a judicial gene too.

Judge George C. Fairbanks, IV (9th Judicial District) was endorsed by Sen. Tommy Norment.  Sen. Norment and Judge Fairbanks go way back... they've been friends since their days in law school together, when they worked together at the Kings Arms Tavern.  They've also served together in the Army Reserves.  Sen. Norment volunteered that he's appeared before Judge Fairbanks about 200 times.  We're guessing the outcome for Senator Norment's clients was pretty favorable, but that's just a hunch. 

Judge Fairbank's JPE revealed concerns about his respect for litigants and two other issues.

Citizen Gail Lakritz testified against Judge Fairbanks and talked about the problem of domestic violence.  However, Judge Fairbanks did not respond to her testimony.

Judge Ronald Bentsen (7th Judicial District) announced he will not seek another term if re-appointed.
Sen. Tommy Norment endorsed Judge Bentsen, whom he's known since beginning to practice.  Judge Bentsen received an excellent JPE.

Judge Lucretia Carrico (11th Judicial District) serves as chief judge of the Amelia County General District Court, hearing mostly traffic and criminal matters.  Unfortunately, her JPE reveals she falls short in her knowledge of the law, faithfulness to the law.  She admitted her weakness when it comes to knowledge of the law.  With a family name like Carrico and given their history in Virginia's legal community & politics, we suspect she will be re-appointed.  To her credit, she is quite genteel.

Judge Pro Tempore Gregory Carr (12th Judicial District) came seeking an appointment for a full term. Del. Loupassi endorsed Greg, who he's known since he was a clerk.  Del. Albo had coached Judge Carr in the past as well.
The verdict: Virginia's system for selecting judges is deeply flawed.  Its an outdated system where political largesse runs rampant; our elected officials put their friends and cronies on the bench, some judges practically inherit their seats and our judiciary is consequently becoming in-bred. The Roanoke Times summed it up best by saying, "Virginia's judiciary isn't independent.  Judges are beholden to lawmakers for getting and keeping their jobs. That system is broken and should be fixed." 
Its time for merit-based selection of judges.  The future of Virginia's judiciary depends upon it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Attorney Roy Morris Testimony against Arlington J&DR Judge

DC Attorney Roy Morris testified Dec. 17 before the Courts of Justice Committee in Richmond about the problems in Arlington J&DR Court.  Morris did not mince words about Judge Esther Wiggins-Lyles of Arlington J&DR Court.  Listen to his testimony here:

Read the US Supreme Court brief Roy Morris wrote re: the Dr. Ariel King case by clicking here:

Roanoke Times: Virginia's Judiciary isn't Independent

The Roanoke Times issued an editorial today about the state of Virginia's judiciary and the systemic problems inherent in Virginia's selection process. The Roanoke Times' take on the problem is this -

"Judges are beholden to lawmakers for getting and keeping their jobs. That system is broken and should be fixed"

See the editorial at

Lawyer Blasts Arlington, VA J&DR Court

DC lawyer Roy Morris testified December 17, 2009 before the joint Courts of Justice Committee in Richmond. Morris told the committee that something is rotten in Arlington J&DR -- he insinuated that money is changing hands in Arlington. Morris is a DC attorney who represented Dr. Ariel King, a well-educated African American Jewish woman who lost custody of her little girl.

Morris testified that Arlington J&DR Chief Judge Esther Wiggins-Lyles unlawfully assumed jurisdiction when neither party had resided in VA for 6 months preceding the hearing, then stripped custody from Dr. King. Morris told the committee how his client was told she needed to pay $20,000 to get her child back. Morris further testified about how Dr. King was unable to exercise her Due Process right to appeal & unable to have a trial de novo because the good ol' boy attorney representing the father had a final order entered without her knowledge in an ex-parte hearing.

Dr. King appealed to the Court of Appeals of VA, but was turned down, ostensibly because she mailed a pleading by Priority Mail rather than Registered Mail. The VA Court of Appeals summarily affirmed Judge Wiggins-Lyles ruling. She appealed to the VA Supreme Court, which declined to hear her case. Dr. King has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear her case (Morris is representing her Pro Bono) -- click on the link to read her US Supreme Court petition:

Judge Esther Wiggins-Lyles will be coming before the Courts of Justice Committee for an interview in December 2010, stay tuned!

Roy Morris' testimony will be available on our blog soon. Click here to read the handout he gave to the Courts of Justice Committee on Dec 17, 2009: