23 March 2009

Judicial Reviews Are Dead

So, I'm sitting, eating lunch with a group of the sharpest local legal minds and someone mentions that the judicial review program is dead. The Chief Justice has so announced it. I look over at the gentleman and asked, "But wasn't there a statute requiring the program?" "Yeah, but the General Assembly didn't fund it after the problems this year and the Chief Justice now says it's dead."

Hmmm . . . Now, I wasn't the greatest fan of the program. I didn't have much of a problem with the judges getting reviewed, but I was concerned about the problems which could come from the system. Still, when Dave Albo, chairman of the House of Delegates Courts of Justice committee, left a comment I couldn't come up with a better alternative. All the solutions I can think of would rely on checks and balances and require a change in Virginia's constitution.

Still, I was pretty sure a program couldn't just be ended because the Supreme Court's budget was cut, so I looked up the statute.
§ 17.1-100. Judicial performance evaluation program.

The Supreme Court, by rule, shall establish and maintain a judicial performance evaluation program that will provide a self-improvement mechanism for judges and a source of information for the reelection process. By September 1 of each year, the Supreme Court, or its designee, shall transmit a report of the evaluation in the final year of the term of each justice and judge whose term expires during the next session of the General Assembly to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice. The reporting requirement of this section shall become effective when funds are appropriated for this program and the first justice or judge is evaluated.
So, the program became law in '02 and was not funded until '07 (?). Funds were appropriated; the first judge was evaluated. What authorizes shutting the program down? Not sure, unless you read that last sentence as a continuing dual requirement. I know it seems a stretch, but I suspect the Chief Justice might win an argument about how a court should construe a statute.

Who knows, maybe next time they'll rewrite the statute so that the Supreme Court is entirely out of the loop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This really concerns me, Brigham City, Utah has 2 Judges that are beyound belief, One advertised he was backed by the Utah Judicial Conduct Comission. This Comission is suposed to work for the People, Not the Judges. They refused to check these 2 guys out, Somehow these 2 guys get re-elected every time being the 2 most hated Judges in Utah.