Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee

W. David Harless, Chair

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[1] from across Virginia:

W. David Harless, chair                      Richmond

William E. Glover, vice-chair             Fredericksburg

Alan S. Anderson                                Alexandria

Bevin R. Alexander, Jr.                      Lynchburg

William J. Dinkin                               Richmond

William Drinkwater                            Virginia Beach

Karla C. Haynes                                 Suffolk

Eva N. Juncker                                    Falls Church

Christy E. Kiely                                  Richmond

Nancy G. Parr                                     Chesapeake

Helen E. Phillips                                 Abingdon

William T. Wilson                              Richmond

Michael M. York                                 Reston

Irving M. Blank serves on the committee as a nonvoting member representing the Executive Committee.  Karen A. Gould, Executive Director of the VSB, attends the meetings as the committee’s liaison.  There were former members of the committee who served when others could not, such as Todd G. Patrick of Waynesboro, Crystal Y. Twitty of Sandston, and Ronald R. Wesley of Richmond.

The committee screened and evaluated candidates for three federal vacancies during FY2017-2018, at the request of U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

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 the candidates are 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 to merit the designation of ‘Highly Qualified.’”  If a candidate is found not to be qualified for whatever reason, no report is prepared regarding that candidate.

The findings by the Committee are specific to the vacancy for which the candidates have expressed interest.  The Committee’s evaluations should not be interpreted as, or considered to be, a determination by the Committee of the qualifications of the candidates to serve on a tribunal other than the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

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 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?  Do you have any tax issues that you think this Committee should know about?



With regard to the interviews for Judge Gerald Bruce Lee’s position, the final votes were as follows:

                                                 Qualified       Highly Qualified                    Comment

Hon. Rossie D. Alston, Jr.        8-2                                      

George R.A. Doumar              10-0                            

Patricia T. Giles                      10-0                             10-0

Terence J. Lynam                    10-0                             10-0                

Hon. Lawrence A. Leonard    10-0                             10-0

Edward B. MacMahon, Jr.     10-0    

Hon. David J. Novak              11-0                             10-1                             2 abstentions  




                                                Qualified                    Highly Qualified        Comment

Judge Robert Ballou               10-1 (3/2014 vote)*                                        3 abstentions

David Barger                           12-0                             9-3      

Judge David Carson                11-0                             7-4                               1 abstention

Julia Dudley                            10-1 (3/2014 vote)*   

Gregory Habeeb                      8-4                  

Robert Hurt                             12-0                

Judge John Kilgore                 12-0                             12-0    

Judge Pamela Sargent             10-0                             8-2                               2 abstentions







George R. A. Doumar

Q 10-0 (10/2017 vote)*

HQ 14-0 (6/27/2018 vote)


Patricia T. Giles

Q 10-0 (10/2017 vote)*

HQ 10-0 (10/2017 vote)*


Hon. David E. Johnson


Q 12-0 (6/27/2018 vote)

2 abstentions


Hon. Lawrence R. Leonard

Q 10-0 (10/2017 vote)*

HQ 10-0 (10/2017 vote)*


Hon. David J. Novak

Q 11-0 (2007 vote)*

HQ 10-1 (2007 vote)*


Coke M. Stewart


Q 13-1 (6/27/2018 vote)



* Paragraph II. G of the JCEC policy, amended in February 2016, provides: “If a candidate has previously been evaluated by the Committee for the same position, and received a rating of ‘Qualified’ or ‘Highly Qualified,’ there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the candidate merits at least the same rating.  In order for the presumption to be rebutted, the Committee must be presented with information reflecting on the candidate’s qualifications that warrants a vote to a lower rating.” 


[1] Not every attorney listed was present at each of the three evaluations summarized in this report.  Karla H. Carter, for instance, joined the committee in April of 2018 and was present for June 2018 interviews and discussions.

Updated: Jul 10, 2018