The wife of a Democratic legislator, who has been seeking election by the General Assembly to a $55,000-a-year Richmond judgeship, has withdrawn her name from consideration, apparently ending questions raised about the ethics of such an appointment.
Phoebe Hall, the wife of Del. Franklin P. Hall of Richmond, announced her decision in a letter to Richmond area legislators earlier this week.
Members of an advisory committee to the House of Delegates today prepared to investigate the matter as a possible conflict of interest, according to United Press International.
It was believed to be the first time the five-member panel had been asked to consider an ethics matter. The committee will meet March 21 to discuss it.
"I had honestly hoped that my candidacy would be considered on its own merit," Hall wrote, saying that she disagreed with critics who charged that her appointment would appear to be a conflict of interest because of her husband's position.
"My job as a district court judge [which generally handles minor civil cases] would have virtually nothing to do with the job my husband holds . . . . ," Hall wrote.
The Halls, who practice law together in the firm of Hall & Hall, were traveling today and could not be reached for comment, an office spokeswoman said.
Her nomination was opposed by several Richmond area lawyers who said she had not gone through the normal process of being considered by the Richmond Bar Association, which traditionally recommends candidates for court vacancies.
Until the complaints, the 43-year-old Hall had been the only candidate to appear before the committees that oversee judgeships.
Several prominent legislators, including House Speaker A.L. Philpott and State Sen. William F. Parkerson Jr. of Richmond, have indicated that the nomination was mishandled.
On Feb. 23, the closing day of the session, the House Democratic Caucus, which controls a majority of votes in the 100-member house, refused to nominate Hall for the judgeship, which remains unfilled.