Legislators list their preferred candidates for vacant judgeships

Daily Staff Report

Legislators from the 26th Judicial Circuit in the Northern Shenandoah Valley announced their support Tuesday for five attorneys to fill judgeships from the area when lawmakers meet later this month.

The five candidates are: Ronald Napier, of Front Royal, and Clark Ritchie, of Broadway, for circuit court; John Hart Jr., of Harrisonburg, for general district court and Kim Athey, of Front Royal, and Anthony Bailey, of Harrisonburg, for juvenile and domestic relations court.

Napier has been a juvenile and domestic relations judge in Warren County from 2006 to the present. Athey has been a managing partner at the Pond Athey law firm in Front Royal since 1998. Ritchie has worked as chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Rockingham County and the city of Harrisonburg from 2011 to the present. Hart has practiced in and owned the Hart law firm in Harrisonburg since 1998. Bailey has held the positions of assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Rockingham County and the city of Harrisonburg since 2002.

The candidates were chosen after legislators from the 26th Judicial Circuit interviewed them earlier this year. The legislators are Senators Mark Obenshain, Jill Vogel and Emmett Hanger and Delegates Todd Gilbert, Steven Landes, Randy Minchew, Tony Wilt, Michael Webert, David LaRock and Mark Berg. All are Republicans.

The 26th Judicial Circuit encompasses Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, Page and Rockingham counties.

The Senate and House Committees for the Courts of Justice are scheduled to interview the candidates on Sept. 17 and the General Assembly will vote Sept. 18 on judge selections.

Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, who is co-chairman of the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice, said in a written statement that the 26th Judicial Circuit has one of the highest workloads per judge of any circuit in Virginia.

“I look forward to acting on these eminently qualified judicial candidates to ensure that the people of this circuit are assured the legal access and speedy trial to which they are constitutionally entitled,” Obenshain said.