Statewide Bars Call for Full Judicial Funding
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Posted by: Ryan Liverman
Businesses, individuals could suffer if judgeships are not filled
Nine statewide bar associations have called on the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor to fund and fill all existing and anticipated judgeships in the commonwealth. Since 2010, while the population has grown, the number of funded judgeships has fallen from 402 to 386. In 2010, state legislators stopped replacing every judge who retired at the mandatory retirement age, died or otherwise stepped down from the bench unless the positions were specifically funded. For 2013, of 49 anticipated vacancies only 32 have been funded.
The failure to act now to support Virginia's judiciary and the funding and filling of judicial vacancies will have a predictable effect. It will take longer to have cases decided, and access to justice will be delayed and, in some cases, denied. The funding and filling of these judicial vacancies will help ensure that Virginia's judiciary remains among the best in the Nation and that no one is denied quick and certain access to justice.
Imagine a business or an individual awaiting resolution of a legal conflict. Neither can fully move forward until a case is resolved. Undue delay in our judicial system affects the ability of companies to transact business and the ability of individuals to plan for the future.
“It is critical that we fund and fill all existing and anticipated judicial vacancies,” said Thomas R. Bagby, president of The Virginia Bar Association, the state’s oldest and largest statewide bar organization. “We must guarantee that Virginia’s judiciary remains among the very best in the Nation.”
The Virginia Bar Association, along with other statewide bar associations, notes that Virginia courts bring in about $661 million (2012). The Commonwealth spends only about 58 percent of that amount -- about $381 million (2012) -- for the operation of its entire court system – less than 1 percent of the Commonwealth’s annual budget.
A resolution signed by all nine statewide bar associations in support of full funding and filling of judicial vacancies states that “the bars further believe that when our courts operate efficiently, our economy benefits and Virginia’s reputation as a place where businesses want to locate, remain, and transact business is enhanced.”
About The Virginia Bar Association
The Virginia Bar Association (www.vba.org) is the state’s oldest and largest voluntary bar association, with about 5,500 members. Its mission is to be the independent voice of the Virginia lawyer, advancing the highest ideals of the profession through advocacy and volunteer service. From its inception in 1888 to today, the VBA addresses the many facets of the practice of law and promotes programs that preserve the efficient and equitable administration of justice. The association actively proposes and promotes statutory changes before the Virginia General Assembly that are in the public interest.
The signatories to the resolution
These Virginia statewide bar associations have adopted the resolution:
The Virginia Bar Association
701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1120
Richmond, VA 23219
Yvonne C. McGhee
The Virginia Bar Association
Telephone: (804) 644-0041