By Joe Beck -- email@example.com
After being sidetracked for months, the appointment of former Del. Clifford L. "Clay" Athey Jr. to circuit judge is headed back onto the General Assembly agenda, a local lawmaker said Monday.
Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, said he expected Athey's proposed appointment to a judgeship in the 26th Judicial Circuit will probably be considered on May 7 or 8, now that the state budget has passed.
Gilbert said earlier this year he was confident that Athey was on track for approval, despite a procedural dispute between Democrats and Republicans that prevented lawmakers from voting to fill vacant judgeships in January.
Gilbert was equally upbeat about Athey's prospects on Monday.
"Mr. Athey remains the choice of the local delegation, and I have every reason to believe he will be elected when the General Assembly reconvenes," Gilbert said, adding that newly approved judges will start hearing cases on July 1.
Athey, a Republican, is one of two new judge nominees waiting for a vote in the General
Assembly. Clarence E. "Bud" Phillips, a former Democratic member of the House of Delegates, is the other candidate, along with incumbents who are also subject to approval by the General Assembly.
Gilbert practices law out of Athey's firm in Front Royal, but has said he has no other financial interest in it.
Athey, a former mayor of Front Royal and member of the town council, represented Warren County and parts of Fauquier and Frederick counties from 2002 to 2011.
The retirement of John R. Prosser more than a year ago created a vacancy in the 26th Judicial Circuit that has since gone unfilled. The district covers the cities of Winchester and Harrisonburg, and Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, Clarke, Page and Rockingham counties.