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Caucus backs delegate for judge

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Clifford A. “Clay” Athey Jr.

Valley officials endorse Athey as replacement for retiring Prosser

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Del. Clifford L. "Clay" Athey Jr. took an important step toward becoming a judge in the 26th Judicial Circuit on Wednesday when a group of Shenandoah Valley legislators endorsed him to fill a vacancy on the bench.

The announcement came in the form of a news release from the Shenandoah Valley Caucus, which includes eight delegates and three senators from districts covering parts of the 26th Judicial Circuit. The circuit covers the cities of Winchester and Harrisonburg, as well as the counties of Shenandoah, Warren, Frederick, Clarke, Page and Rockingham.

The chairman of the caucus, Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, praised Athey's "intellect, demeanor and vast legal experience and legislative experience" in issuing the announcement.

"At the end of the day, and simply put, the Shenandoah Valley Caucus trusts Clay Athey," Landes said.

In a news release of his own, Athey, who is retiring from the General Assembly in January, said he was grateful for the unanimous support he received from the caucus.

"I am humbled and very appreciative of the support of my former colleagues in the General Assembly," Athey said. "I intend to work very hard to deserve the trust they have placed in me."

The vacancy was created by the retirement of John R. Prosser in March.

Athey, 51, has represented all of Warren and parts of Fauquier and Frederick counties in the General Assembly for 10 years. During that time, he has served as vice chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee and chairman of its civil law subcommittee. He also was mayor of Front Royal before his election to the House of Delegates in 2002.

Athey "has a good grasp of the law and would be a good person of judicial temperament," said Douglas Napier, Front Royal's town attorney. Napier practiced law with Athey at Pond, Athey, Athey & Pond.

Napier said Athey's appointment would help relieve a backlog of cases that has plagued the 26th Judicial Circuit.

"The judges are, from my perspective as a practicing attorney, they are very heavily overworked and could certainly use some relief," Napier said. "Just out of fairness to the judges in this circuit, they need additional judges."

The General Assembly will make the final determination by majority vote on filling the judicial vacancy.

Napier described Athey's support from legislators in the Shenandoah Valley as "more of an endorsement than an appointment, but it's an important endorsement."


This caucus is a farce. The self-appointed members formerly rubbed elbows with Athey in Richmond. Athey for judge is an abomination of everything that stands for democracy. Redistricting erased Athey’s district so he wants a consolation prize for not seeking election by running against Todd Gilbert, another Republican incumbent? So Gilbert becomes a law partner with Athey’s firm. Here is yet anther example of Good Old Boys scratching each other’s backs.

Who, pray tell, is this Shenandoah Caucus? Never heard of them before this NVD article. Could this so-called ‘caucus’ be the political creation of one soon-to-be-retired politician trying to influence public opinion?

The icing on the cake comes from a lawyer effusing accolades who also worked for Athey’s law firm before becoming town attorney.

This cancer is growing.

Congratulations to Clay Athey for his hard work and dedication. His appointment is much deserved.

Hard work and dedication? History says you are mistaken.

Magically appearing out of thin air, who are these guys, the Shenandoah Valley Good Old Boys Back Slapping Caucus? Why are they endorsing backbench part-time legislator Clay Athey? Cronyism? It sure didn't take long for Athey’s former employee, now Town Attorney (see how these cronyism dots connect?) to jump on the endorsement bandwagon.

Athey is a mediocre ho-hum legislator with a career noteworthy for voting for the Abusive Driver Fees Bill. The NV Daily reported Athey claimed he didn't actually read this Bill before voting to approve.

Athey helped create the 522 Corridor Agreement, then, changing hats, became the lawyer representing major shopping center developers in the same corridor. Where was Athey when the restaurants sued and won? Beware of career politicians using their government positions to enhance their personal wealth.

Athey is a well-connected lawyer with a long history of representing developers. Athey helped create the pay for play Urban Development Areas, opening up a whole new statewide arena for legal grift at the local level.

And who can forget Athey's crackdown on suspected Internet Cafe gambling, the scourge of what ails the world, except when the State runs a lottery.

By featuring a political career highlighted by occupying space, Clay Athey has accomplished little to nothing that would distinguish his legislative career. Athey is not worthy of nomination to the judicial bench, unless, of course, you are a die-hard Good Old Boy (or Girl).

Well stated and well written Jacques!

I am going to sound in on this. For the Record I was once a long time supporter of Delegate Clay Athey. I will probably be nailed to the wall by some of my fellow Republicans on this. I cannot let this go by without asking the question. I wonder how hard Delegate Clay Athey worked to keep Warren County together during the Redistricting of the House of Delegates especially when there was a judgeship out there for him to snag? Did he do anything to keep Warren County together? Or did he sit quietly and not raise his voice in objection to the carving up of Warren County?

Remember everyone. A judgeship is not an elected position. There are not term limits and it is a lifetime appointment. A very nice cushy appointment and the pay is probably not too shabby either. We have a duty as citizens of this commonwealth to hold our elected and appointed officials to a higher level of accountability. After all it is we the tax payers that pay their salaries.

Public Service should be about service. It should not be about a ladder to climb such as this. Today I am a town councilman, now I should get to be Mayor, then a member of the House of Delegates. And if I am a good little Delegate and sit quietly by and not raise any objections to the carving up of my District then I get a life appointment to a judgeship with nice cushy paycheck courtesy of the tax payers.

I find it troubling as well that all of the “backers are either Republican Colleagues in the State House and a Law Partner from his law Offices here in Front Royal and who also happens to be the current Town Attorney of Front Royal. You want to impress us Mr. Delegate! Get some Democrats on the other side of the aisle to endorse you for this judgeship. Then we will get excited about this.

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