23 January 2007

Judge Chad

Well, I didn't know where else to put this, so I thought I'd reopen CrimLaw for this announcement.

Chad Dotson has now officially been made a general district court judge by the General Assembly. Chad, the author of the highly popular Commonwealth Conservative was offered the position in December and in early January interviewed for the job. He will begin in early February and, because he cannot hear any cases which began while he was Commonwealth Attorney, he will have to spend a few months sitting in other counties, but eventually it is believed he will sit in Wise County.

Chad's an excellent choice and will serve in the position well. He's a graduate of both UVa and Georgetown Law who chose to go back to Southwest Virginia to be near family and in fairly quick order became the Commonwealth Attorney. While serving as Commonwealth Attorney his blog raised him to the status of a pretty big dog in Republican circles and his political future looked promising. Yet, when given a choice which would allow him to concentrate on being with his family while his children grow up and providing them a stable environment he took that option. It was a great choice for Chad.

On the other hand, IMHO, it was a stupid choice for the RPV. Instead of grooming a young member of the party to move forward and take an important role in the party they have removed him from the political scene. It was obvious that Chad could have been (and was becoming) a big voice locally and Commonwealth-wide among certain sectors. It was not hard to conceive him as a solid candidate for AG (maybe not this coming election but probably the one after it). All I can do is look at the choice and wonder what the party elders were thinking.

Anyway, to quash a few rumors - there was no long standing agreement to make Chad a judge. There were longstanding rumors in the courthouse that it was going to happen, but if Chad had a standing agreement he was pretty dang good at masking it with a frustrated look as I watched him explain for the umpteenth time to yet another person who asked that he didn't know anything about any offer. The blog went down because he was getting ready to start his next election campaign. For reasons I cannot disclose (I do, after all, work in the Wise Commonwealth's office) I believe that he was preparing for his next campaign and was looking to his future. However, the offer to become a judge trumped that.

Of course, there was that wonderful hit piece in the Richmond TD shortly before Chad's interview which basically said that Chad was only getting this opportunity because he did yeoman's work for the RPV in his blog. Why would a young Commonwealth Attorney get offered the district court judgeship if that wasn't the reason? How about because he was the best candidate? And who does the author think becomes a district court judge? It isn't the fourth term Commonwealth who is so ensconced in his position that he has become a local icon and will never, ever be voted out of office. It isn't a whole lot of capable private practitioners who are earning far too much money (even in pitiful, old, dirt-poor Southwest Virginia - always love that unbiased outside perspective). First and second term Commonwealths are par for the course; they are not great exceptions. Besides which, I don't think the blog brought Chad to the attention of the local RPV hierarchy which recommended him for the job. They already knew that Chad was capable and worthy of this.

Chad's heir apparent is Ron Elkins who has been his Chief Deputy and drug-enforcement guy since he's been here. Ron's a good guy who does an excellent job; he'll make an estimable Commonwealth. Congrats to him as well (Hi Ron!). The only thing is, I feel sorry for him now that all Chad's paperwork will end up piled on his desk. I guess that with great power comes great responsibility (and loads of paperwork).

Oh, and I guess the office will have to hire a new attorney as well. If you're a better attorney than I am (and judging from the womping I took yesterday in a jury trial that shouldn't be too hard) you ought to check into it. Preference to graduates from Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Melbourne, or Auckland who are willing to self move to the SW Va. area and sign a ten year exclusive contract. I'm sure Ron will consider others as well, but I might as well start out by seeing if we can mine some sort of wunderkind out of the legal herd.

1 comment:

Waldo Jaquith said...

FWIW, I read that RT-D piece, and I didn't think it was a hit piece at all -- it seemed like a perfectly reasonable article. Granted, I'm rather removed from the situation and less likely to feel defensive for Chad, but I'd like to think of myself as more sympathetic than the average reader.