Virginia Court of Appeals Judge James W. Haley Jr. is retiring a few months early.

All Virginia judges must retire when they reach the age of 70. The 69-year-old Haley would have to step down in September but he plans to retire March 1.

The Free Lance-Star reports that Haley announced his decision in a recent letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The Stafford County resident says retiring early will give the General Assembly ample time to appoint a successor during its upcoming session.

Haley served as a circuit judge for 15 years before the General Assembly appointed him to the Court of Appeals in 2005. He also had served as a general district court judge and as commonwealth’s attorney in King George.