Virginia House and Senate Reach Agreement on Historic Court of Appeals Nominees
Leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate announced agreement today on eight candidates to be nominated for certification and election to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
With unprecedented cooperation between both chambers and in-depth review and vetting of all the candidates by the Virginia State Bar and several of the commonwealth’s top legal associations—including the Women’s Bar and Old Dominion Bar Associations—this historic agreement will diversify the Court to more adequately reflect the makeup of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The nominees also reflect a diverse makeup of legal practice, experience, and geographic representation, and include four women and four African-American nominees.
The agreed-upon list of eight candidates for certification include:
- Dominique A. Callins of Front Royal
- Doris Henderson Causey of Henrico
- Vernida R. Chaney of Alexandria
- Frank K. Friedman of Roanoke
- Junius P. Fulton of Norfolk
- Lisa M. Lorish of Charlottesville
- Daniel E. Ortiz of Fairfax
- Stuart A. Raphael of Arlington
On Tuesday both the House Courts Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to certify these candidates. They will then be put before the both chambers for election to the position.
Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said: “The unprecedented review, and coordination between the House and the Senate has resulted in the selection of the most diverse and highly qualified candidates to be elected to the Court of Appeals in Virginia history.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate, especially Majority Leader Herring and Chairman Edwards, for their dedication and work in conducting a thorough process that resulted in the selection of these candidates. I would also like to thank the Virginia State Bar and other legal associations for the months of work that went into interviewing and vetting each of the candidates who applied to provide us with their crucial feedback and reviews which contributed to our selections.”
Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said: “Expanding the Court of Appeals was a major victory for justice in the Commonwealth earlier this year. I’m proud to see the work we’ve put in coming to fruition, enabling Virginians to appeal any case to the Court一making sure every person has the right to a fair trial.
“Senate Democrats applaud the hard work of the Senate Judiciary and House Courts of Justice Committees on their collaboration, providing the Commonwealth with an experienced, diverse, knowledgeable, and forward-thinking bench.”
Majority Leader Charniele Herring, Courts of Justice Chair said: "We are taking a historic step forward in making our legal system more equitable, expanding people's rights, as the Court of Appeals comes in step with state appellate courts across the country. We are bringing forward an opportunity for an unprecedented level of diversity to the bench, as we move to certify these candidates. Asking for input from experts across the Commonwealth, we have a great combination in race, gender, practice area, and geography."
Judiciary Chair John Edwards said: “With eight vacancies on the Virginia Court of Appeals and many qualified applicants, the decisions made for nominations depended on thorough vetting and a respect to racial, gender, geographical and practice diversity. The new judges for the Virginia Court of Appeals will provide the kind of justice Virginians deserve in the 21st century.”
Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan, Chair of Judicial Subcommittee said: "Working collaboratively with our colleagues, we have narrowed an impressive field of applicants to some of the best legal minds Virginia has to offer. Our process was inclusive and exhaustive, and included public input and merit-based decision making. As these nominees work their way through the public process of certification and election, the depth of legal knowledge and strength of conviction for public service that each of these individuals possess will be apparent. In the end, we will have a stronger judiciary and a stronger Commonwealth for their election.”
Senator Scott Surovell said: “Expanding the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals means every case, civil or criminal, can be heard again by a three-judge panel. This once-in-a-generation opportunity will change the Court for many years to come, ensuring Virginians attain justice. Further, expanding the Court’s jurisdiction will help maintain the Commonwealth’s rating as the #1 state for business.
“Appointing a diverse slate of judges brings in points of view from varying areas of practice, geographic locations, and life experiences. When our judicial system more closely represents the people it serves, it can be more effective and fair in the administration of justice.”