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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dirty Political Tricks

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee met at 9 am this morning, after Senator Marsh, Chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committtee and the House Clerk Bruce Jamerson told a citizen in writing yesterday that the committee would not be meeting.

Immediately after the meeting started, Senator Stolle made a motion to hold a closed meeting to discuss "personnel matters" and the public was forced to leave the room. Minutes later, the public was allowed back in the room. Senator Deeds made a motion to not certify the judges that had issues and read from the list of judges (page 2, judge number 1,2,7,10&12) and one judge from page 1 of the list. We've identified five of the six judges who did not make the cut: Hon. David Williams (1st District), Hon. Timothy Wright (1st District), Hon. Bryant Sugg (7th District), Hon. Colleen Killilea (9th District) and Hon. Birdie Jamison (13th District). Delegate Melvin (in a joint committee meeting on 2/20/09) indicated that at least three of the five judges above allegedly had "temperment" issues.

There were a total of 7 JPE's done this year at a cost to the taxpayers of $770,000 ($110,000 each). Five of the six judges who were not certified today had Judicial Performance Evaluations (JPEs) done. This is a high failure rate. It causes us to wonder if Judge Finch had a JPE done, would the committee also have withheld his certification after reviewing it? Aren't violations of folks' rights, ignorance of the law and laziness, all alleged to be problems with Judge Finch, more serious problems than temperment problems? We think so.

One of the Senators inquired if Judge Gaylord Finch was to be excluded from certification too. However, Dave Albo's gentlemens' agreement came to fruition -- the Committee unanimously certified Judge Finch.

Senator Cuccinelli, to his credit, asked the committee to hear from two citizens who got wind of the meeting last night, got up at 5 am and drove almost three hours this morning to be there. Senator Marsh, without knowing what the citizens' testimony would entail, concluded that they had nothing new to say and denied them the opportunity to testify against Judge Finch because they had testified before. Senator Howell, who looked washed out, chimed in that the citizens should not be able to speak because they had nothing new to offer. One citizen, Bruce Bennett, asked to be heard -- he had never testified before about Judge Finch. Senator Marsh denied Mr. Bennett the ability to testify in this important public meeting. The other citizen had new information to share, but likewise could not testify.

We've concluded the committee has this "see no evil, hear no evil" attitude about appointing judges. They do not want the public to come and testify about questionable judges. They'd rather vote blindly after holding secret meetings and cutting deals.

Next up... we've learned Dave Albo cut another deal... stay tuned for more.


  1. I learned of your organization through the article in today's Washington Post. Please continue your this critically important issue and let me know how I can help.

    Jerry Boutcher

  2. Jerry, thanks for contacting us. Are you available to do a little court watching? A half day or one day. We also need people to do some legal research in Fairfax County, pull case files. Please let us know how you can help, email

  3. I find it very difficult to believe that any organization -- government included -- would pay $110,000 per evaluation. I think you should check your information more carefully before publishing it. Sloppy or willfull ignorance -- or twisting -- of the facts can undermine the important cause that you have taken up.

  4. Anonymous, If you do the math, there were 7 evaluations done last year for a total cost of $770,000, that equals $110,000 each. This session, the legislature cut the evaluation program budget by nearly $700,000.