U.S. COURT OF APPEALS
Longest-Serving Judge Relinquishes Role
The nation's longest-serving federal appellate judge has stepped down as an active member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, leaving it with five vacancies.
Judge H. Emory Widener Jr. took senior status Tuesday, his secretary, Peg Bishop, confirmed yesterday. A man who answered the phone at Widener's house in Abingdon in southwestern Virginia said the judge was unavailable for comment.
Widener told President Bush in 2001 he would take senior status once a successor was confirmed for the Richmond-based court. Bush nominated Pentagon lawyer William J. Haynes II for the seat last year but pulled the nomination in January when it became apparent that the Senate's new Democratic majority would reject him and several other nominees.
Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, one of the court's 10 active members, said Widener's senior status -- a form of semi-retirement for judges 65 and older -- is a milestone.
"Judge Widener is a judge with extraordinary sense of duty who served on active status well into his 80s out of devotion to this court," Wilkinson said.
The 4th Circuit's vacancies -- the most of any federal appellate court -- amount to a third of the slots authorized for the court, which has handled some of the country's biggest terrorism cases. The 4th Circuit covers Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina.
-- Associated Press
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Capital Murder Trial Goes to Closing Arguments
A Prince William County Circuit Court judge yesterday scheduled closing arguments for Monday in the capital murder trial of a man charged in three slayings, after the defense rested without calling any witnesses.