New Fairfax Judges are a Comin!
For those who may be unfamiliar, there are new judge positions in Fairfax that need to be filled.
Judge positions are available at different levels and they can preside over certain types of cases depending on the type of crime, the type of dispute, or the types of people that may be involved.
In Fairfax County, there are currently several positions in the Circuit Court, the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, and the General District Court. Each of these courts have at least one position that needs to be filled and it’s not done by an election. In Virginia, judges are appointed by your state representatives. The delegates and senators of your respective district will choose the candidate they want to fill a position. They are supposed to take recommendations by the local bar organizations such as the Fairfax County Bar, the Hispanic Bar, Asian Pacific American Bar, and the Black Attorney Bar associations, but unfortunately, politics largely dictate who will be selected.
Those local bar associations conduct interviews with each judicial candidate to grade them and that recommendation is supposed to mean something. A lot of time and effort is put forth to let the delegates and senators know who is experienced, who has the proper training, character, and abilities to judge, in addition to the overall ethical duty to do what is fair and just, especially as a judge.
So, what are some of these qualities? Aside from the obvious such as having some intelligence and experience, here are just a few that really matter. Judicial temperament is a big one. A candidate ought to be able to apply the law to the facts presented and communicate with the parties involved and their attorneys by being patient and understanding while using common sense.
Another quality is courage and integrity. That means a judge can do what they can or what they should do despite influencing factors. They are not to be swayed by a particular person because of what they look like or what they’re wearing or with what they may be charged. I find that a lot of judges think they’re doing a good job at this, but really they’re not. Most have not endured many difficulties in life due to issues that many of my clients have faced such as financial difficulties or challenges based on their background or skin color.
Suitability to the workload is quite important and often gets overlooked. Being a judge at any level can be stressful and requires a lot of thought and effort. It can be mundane hearing the same type of cases or arguments by people or their attorneys. You have to sacrifice personal time or forgo some of the things you enjoy because you are a judge. Judges say that it doesn’t affect them and they do their job well despite their sacrifices and mundaneness of their work. However, we still see judges who get annoyed or appear to just want to get things over with. Justice cannot be served if a public servant is not showing good judicial temperament or if they are not suited for the workload.
For me, relatability is probably the biggest thing that doesn’t seem to get considered as much as it should. The appointed judges will “judge” people that are from their communities. If a lawyer wants to be a judge in Fairfax County, by law, he or she will have to reside in Fairfax County. The county is made up of every shade of skin color from white to black. People of different socio-economic backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and education levels reside here. If a judge has never faced any adversity their entire life due to finances or their skin color, a good question to ask would be, “how do you relate to a member of the community that you serve?”.