December 08, 2010
VSB President Seeks Details of Judicial Freeze Impact
Dear Virginia State Bar Members:??
As president of the Virginia State Bar, I need your immediate help. In preparation for the General Assembly session on January 12, and throughout the session, I need actual examples of how a shortage of judges may be affecting your clients or other business at courthouses around the commonwealth.
??As you know, the General Assembly imposed a judicial hiring freeze during the 2010 session, as part of the 2010-12 state budget. Currently, 19 circuits or districts have lost judges; by the end of the biennium, the total of known vacancies will be 32 statewide, due to the mandatory judicial retirement age. Signs of crisis are emerging in pockets across the state. For more details, see the President’s Message and Benchmarks columns in the December Virginia Lawyer, which will mail next week.
??In February 2010, the Virginia State Bar Council authorized VSB officers and the Executive Committee to urge the General Assembly to maintain the same number of authorized judges as existed before 2010. While I can make the argument that the judicial branch is an equal branch of government and that democracy cannot function without an adequately staffed judiciary, we need details to carry the day.
??We need your stories of the effects of the freeze on your clients — individual and corporate — as well as on the senior and substitute judges who are taking up the slack where full-time judges are not available. I encourage you to submit those stories to me and to contact your legislators with your concerns. I have been told by members of the General Assembly that they have not been hearing from constituents on this issue. Legislative contact information is available at http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform.
??Please send your observations to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Irving M. Blank, Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, VA 23219. Thank you for helping me advocate for a strong judiciary and efficient access to the justice system.??
Very truly yours,
??Irving M. Blank
?President, Virginia State Bar