YouTube Video Channel

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Citizen files landmark case at VA Supreme Court

The following article appeared in the DC Examiner on 2/19/09:

UPDATE: Finch flap now before VA Supreme Court
POSTED February 19, 2009 11:33 AM
The pitchfork rebellion over the reappointment of Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Gaylord Finch to another eight-year term is not over, despite a thumbs up by the Northern Virginia delegation and an almost certain vote in his favor by the Courts of Justice Committee chaired by Del. Dave Albo, R-Springfield.Liz Haring, a Leesburg mom who is currently appealing Judge Finch’s ruling in her custody case, filed a petition with the Virginia Supreme Court Wednesday, asking the commonwealth’s highest court to stop legislators from proceeding with Finch’s reappointment process. In documents filed with the court, Haring points out that state law requires that “the Supreme Court, or its designee, shall transmit a report of the evaluation in the final year of the term of each justice and judge whose term expires during the next session of the General Assembly to the chairmen of the House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice.” Haring alleges that Linda Birtley, who heads the Judicial Performance Evaluation office at Virginia Commonwealth University, submitted JPEs for other judges on Aug. 28, 2008 – but curiously not one for Judge Finch. The petition argues that absent Finch’s JPE, which is required by the Virginia Code, Albo and his fellow COJ members have no legal authority to recertify him.Haring also asks that the evaluation done by the Fairfax Bar Association, which is not required by state law, be made a matter of public record since it was discussed during Finch’s Jan. 10 judicial interview – and none of the legislators present made a proper motion to hold a closed meeting as required by Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.Finally, Haring argues that Albo had no constitutional authority to accept a letter submitted to the Supreme Court by Finch himself – which states that he intends to retire at the end of 2009 – as a condition of the judge’s recertification. There is no provision in the Virginia Constitution to appoint a judge for less than eight years or make his/her reappointment conditional on a promise to retire, Haring claims, so there is no way to enforce Finch’s promised retirement if he gets back on the bench.The petition asks for relief in the form of a complete JPE to be submitted to the members of Courts of Justice and another public interview of Finch - with more public testimony allowed. It’s hard to see how the Virginia Supreme Court can say no to what amounts to a citizen’s insistence that the court follow its own procedures.

No comments:

Post a Comment