YouTube Video Channel

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AP Story on Pitchfork Rebellion and Judicial Selection Debate in Virginia

The Associated Press ran a piece recently about judicial selection in Virginia. House Courts of Justice Committee chairman David Albo (R) admits there are some flaws in the process of judicial selection but defends the state's selection method by and large. A University of Virginia law professor says the way we select judges in Virginia is ripe for reconsideration/discussion:,0,5950262.story


  1. “‘The point they do make, which is something we need to improve, is that it's too difficult to find out when judges are up for appointment and when they can speak,’ said Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax, who chairs the House committee that interviews judicial candidates. He said the committee might start posting that information on the Internet, but he's not convinced a fundamental change in Virginia's system is necessary.”

    It has become a little easier for the people of Virginia to find out when judges are up for appointment and when members of the general public can speak because that information is now posted on the Internet at My wish is to see another healthy turnout of concerned citizen-consumers of legal services at Judicial Interviews of Incumbent Judges (JIIJ) in the fall of 2009. House Room C of the General Assembly Building was barely big enough to accommodate the crowd of participants at judicial interviews on 11 December 2008. I think the Courts of Justice should prepare a larger space for this year’s JIIJ. Let this next turnout be even more evidence--Prof. Howard and Del. Albo think we lack--that the Virginia judicial selection process is creating a bad judiciary.

    Veronique Wyvell, RN
    Private citizen / Public advocate for individual and social justice
    McLean, Virginia

  2. With help from Mr. Litten, I would like to clarify for Mr. Albo--and the readers of this AP article by Mr. O’Dell--the difference between “contested elections” and “retention elections”:

    Retention elections insert democratic principles into the [judicial selection] process by allowing the ultimate authority in this country, the people, to hold judges accountable while still avoiding the serious problems found in contested elections, such as possible conflicts of interest when contributors to a judge's campaign appear before the judge in court. "In retention elections, judges run against their records, rather than against opposing candidates, which means that incumbents are at risk of losing their seats only if voters deem their records unacceptable." Holding retention elections serves "to remind judges that they are judges, not legislators, and that their conduct in office is important. Elections allow citizens to evaluate the judges" while still freeing judicial candidates "from traditional partisan politics and fundraising" and "judicial decisions are more impartial because judges are in a secure environment to decide the cases in a neutral and fair manner."

    [SOURCE: Donald D. Litten in “Let the People Judge the Judges: Reforming Virginia's Judicial Selection Process” at]

    The Missouri Plan provides for “retention” elections, not “contested” elections.

    VW of the Mommy Go Bye Bye blog