The Washington Post

Legislators to interview former colleague for appellate judgeship

Kenneth Melvin, a former Democratic delegate who was appointed to the Portsmouth Circuit Court, will interview Monday for a seat on the Court of Appeals.

The General Assembly, which will return to Richmond next week to resume work on drawing new state legislative boundaries for the next decade, hopes to fill a handful of judicial vacancies.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democratic-led Senate have not been able to agree on who should replace two Supreme Court justices — Leroy R. Hassell Sr., who died in February, and Lawrence L. Koontz Jr., who is retiring.

If either should be replaced by an appellate judge, Melvin would be interested in filling one of those slots, legislators say. Several others have already interviewed for a possible — and likely — vacancy on the appellate court.

The House wants to fill the Supreme Court vacancies with Court of Appeals Judges D. Arthur Kelsey and Elizabeth A. McClanahan. The Senate has not formally made a selection, but some members want to fill one slot with Judge Cleo E. Powell, the first African American woman named to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

If the two chambers cannot come to an agreement and leave vacancies after adjourning their session, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is allowed to name justices to serve until the General Assembly returns to Richmond next year.

The legislature also hopes to select a number of local judges, including filling a circuit court vacancy in Alexandria and a district court vacancy in the judicial district that includes Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock.

Melvin, one of the longest-serving members of the House Courts of Justice Committee, was credited with defending civil rights and supporting the disadvantaged.

He was elected to the House in 1985 to represent parts of Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Portsmouth Circuit Court in 2009.


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