State lawmakers poised to choose new judges

Four local attorneys appear to be heading toward final approval Wednesday when the General Assembly votes to fill area judgeships.

The four – Woodstock attorney Kevin C. Black, Winchester attorneys Neil Randolph “Randy” Bryant, Ian R.D. Williams and Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Alexander Iden – were interviewed Monday during a joint session of the House of Delegates and Senate courts of justice committees, the last step before the General Assembly votes on their candidacies.

Black was interviewed as a prospective replacement for Judge William H. Logan in the Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Logan has submitted a letter to the Virginia Supreme Court declaring his intention to retire, effective April 1.

Williams is in line to replace Judge David S. Whitacre, who is retiring from general district court in Frederick County. Bryant would replace retiring Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. in Frederick County Circuit Court. Iden is up for a new Circuit Court judgeship in Frederick County that is expected to be approved by the General Assembly on Wednesday and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, said in an email that the Shenandoah County Bar Association last week recommended Black and Kermit Lee Racey Jr. as “highly qualified” replacements for Logan.

Black was the preferred choice of the legislative delegation representing the 26th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Winchester and Harrisonburg and Frederick, Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham, Warren and Clarke counties.

State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said the interviews conducted Monday were preceded by an earlier round of interviews late last year. Several candidates from those interviews were chosen to fill judgeship vacancies in the 26th circuit in December.

“Yesterday was not an exhaustive interview for the candidates,” Obenshain said. “It was kind of like a last check and was also an opportunity for members and the public to be heard if they had comments or concerns about the candidates. It is the last step before certification.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com