Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee

Joseph A. Condo, chair

The Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee (JCEC) was asked by U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to evaluate candidates for a vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Following notice of the vacancy in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly and the collection of extensive background information, the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee conducted interviews with ten individuals on March 26, 2014.   The committee’s report and recommendations were reviewed by the bar's Executive Committee.

Under the bar’s policy, most recently revised in June 2012, the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee is charged with evaluating the qualifications of each candidate and rating those found to possess the requisite experience, temperament, integrity and ability as either qualified or highly qualified.  Each person’s rating is also accompanied by an executive summary, prepared by the committee, which explains the basis for the rating.

The Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee consists of well-respected members of the practicing bar in the Commonwealth of Virginia, comprising a blue-ribbon panel of lawyers from across Virginia. The following JCEC members participated on March 26th:

Joseph A. Condo, Chair, McLean

David W. Bouchard, Chesapeake

Anthony H. Monioudis, Danville

Jennifer L. Parrish, Fredericksburg

Todd G. Patrick, Waynesboro

Marshall H. Ross, Richmond (formerly of Harrisonburg)

William L. Schmidt, Fairfax

Theo K. Stamos, Arlington

Crystal Y. Twitty, Richmond

David J. Whitted, Chesapeake

Michael M. York, Reston

Karen A. Gould attended as executive director of the VSB. 

The evaluation process undertaken by the JCEC is time consuming and complex.  The JCEC members conduct an investigation of each candidate in advance of the meeting by interviewing lawyers and judges familiar with that individual.  The JCEC then receives the reports of each investigation before interviewing each candidate.  After  each candidate is interviewed, a vote is taken as to whether the candidate is “Qualified,” taking into consideration the factors outlined in the JCEC policy, i.e., integrity, professional competence, experience, temperament, civic activities, and public service.  A majority of the JCEC members voting is required for a candidate to be designated as “Qualified.”

A majority of those voting in a second vote is required for a candidate to be designated as “Highly Qualified.”  The “Highly Qualified” designation is an evaluation of “whether any of the candidates deemed qualified possesses a level of qualification and distinction sufficiently greater than the others to merit the designation of "Highly Qualified.”  This second vote is conducted after all the candidates have been interviewed.

If a candidate is found not to be qualified for whatever reason, no report is prepared regarding that candidate.

The Committee started each interview with the following series of questions: 

  • Have you ever had a civil judgment entered against you?
  • Have you ever been subject to a tax or other type lien by a government or administrative agency?
  • Have you ever been sanctioned by a government, administrative or regulatory agency?
  • Have you ever been subject to a collection action for failure to satisfy a judgment, lien, or other sanction? 

Each candidate answered in the negative to these questions.

The ten candidates evaluated for the U.S. District Court judgeship were:

Ward L. Armstrong

The Honorable Robert S. Ballou

Elizabeth K. Dillon

Julia C. Dudley

John P. Fishwick, Jr.

Rachel A. Harmon

Christine M. Lee

The Honorable Pamela M. Sargent

Fay F. Spence

Jeb T. Terrien

After reviewing the submissions of the candidates, receiving summaries of the background investigations and interviewing the candidates, the committee made the following evaluations of the candidates for the U.S. District Court judgeship, listed in alphabetical order, with the vote regarding each individual recorded in the column as indicated:

                                                                   Qualified                        Highly Qualified

Ward L. Armstrong                                         10-1                                       6-5

The Honorable Robert S. Ballou                       11-0                                     10-1

Elizabeth K. Dillon                                          11-0                                     10-1

Julia C. Dudley                                              11-0                                     10-1

Rachel A. Harmon                                          11-0                                      8-3

The Honorable Pamela M. Sargent                   9-2

The senators recommend Ward and Dillon to the President for the position.

Updated: Jul 01, 2014