Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is accepting applications for people interested in becoming judges, preparing for the possibility that the General Assembly will face a months-long stalemate over judicial appointments and leave the selection process to him.
McDonnell’s office Thursday created a Web site to solicit applications from potential judicial candidates.
“Should the General Assembly adjourn its current special session without filling these vacancies, Governor McDonnell desires to fill these vacancies expeditiously. Preparing for this possibility requires gathering information now regarding potential judicial candidates,” a notice on the Web site says.
Judges in Virginia are chosen by the legislature, but the governor can fill vacancies temporarily when the General Assembly is not in session.
The Democratic-led state Senate and Republican-held House of Delegates have for months been unable to agree on appointments to the Virginia Supreme Court, where two of seven seats are currently vacant.
The legislature has largely agreed on candidates for the state’s highest court, but their preferred candidates both sit on the state’s Court of Appeals and they cannot agree on the candidates to fill the appellate court vacancies that would be created. They have also failed to agree on a number of lower court appoints--and the situation has dragged while the legislature continues to be formally in special session to deal with its once-a-decade redistricting process.
But it looks like McDonnell is now anticipating that the dispute may have no resolution. The governor’s office has asked candidates interested in a judgeship to fill out a 41-question application.
Most questions deal with judicial and legal experience. But applicants must also indicate whether they’ve ever held political office or contributed to political candidates and describe their physical and mental health.