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News & Press: General

Lawmakers Approve Full Funding For Virginia Judgeships

Monday, June 4, 2018   (0 Comments)
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As you may have seen in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, the budget approved by the House and the Senate last week included funding for all authorized judges in the second year of the biennial budget.

The budget will fund 435 judges for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019. The budget for the current fiscal year includes funding for 407 judges.

"This is a huge win for the Virginia legal community and the commonwealth as a whole," said Jeffrey S. Palmore of Reed Smith LLP, the VBA's legislative counsel.

"For many years, the entire legal community, including many state and local bar organizations, has joined together to support full funding for Virginia’s judiciary," VBA President C.J. Steuart Thomas III said.

Before this year's session began, the VBA was one of eight bar groups requesting lawmaker support for additional judges, including the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. In early May, at the VBA Board of Governors meeting, another letter - this one to budget conferees - was signed by the 16 attending board members eligible to petition for judicial funding.

"Over the years, the VBA’s consistent role has been to lead in these efforts and work with other state and local bar groups because this is about access to justice for all citizens of Virginia," Thomas said. "Whether it be a family trying to resolve a difficult situation, a criminal matter, or an individual or a business seeking justice through our civil system, all Virginians deserve their day in court in a timely fashion. We are grateful to the members of the General Assembly for providing needed funding to our judiciary and thankful to the business community and others who have stood with us during this process."

Palmore said, "Special thanks are due to the chief justice who has communicated to the General Assembly about the need for a fully funded judiciary. Thanks also go to Senator Janet Howell, who introduced a budget amendment for full funding and has been a stalwart supporter of our judiciary. And thanks go to Delegate Chris Jones, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who made clear that this funding is about solving problems for Virginians and making a long-term investment in our judicial branch.

"This victory would not have happened but for the continued work and advocacy of the VBA in support of this funding over many years," Palmore added. "Full funding of the judiciary has been the top budget priority of the VBA for many years. Thank you for your continued leadership on this important issue. Thanks are also due to the VBA's many partners in this initiative. A special thanks to VBA member and past Fairfax Bar Association President Jay Myerson, who led a team of people to talk to legislators about this funding and assisted the VBA with the board's May 4 letter lobbying the budget conferees."

The VBA will need to work next session to ensure that this funding stays intact, but this is a big victory for access to justice in the commonwealth.

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