Virginia Code § 17.1-100 requires that “By December 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.”
On December 1st the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court submitted evaluation reports for 27 judges eligible for reappointment during the 2017 session of the General Assembly. The Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee is Delegate Dave Albo (R), and the Chairman of the Senate Committee is Senator Mark Obenshain (R).
On December 2nd, citizens were afforded the chance to weight in, and many Virginians expressed outrage over the fitness of one Fauquier County judge to continue to sit on the bench. Their circumstances and complaints covered a broad range of cases, but one theme was consistent; Judge Jeffrey Parker, Chief Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court should not be reappointed.
Some cited cases where Judge Parker had a duty to recuse himself but did not, while others stressed the amount of money and hardship caused by having to appeal his rulings which in many cases have been over turned by the Virginia Supreme Court. In fact it is rumored that Judge Parker has had more rulings overturned than any other judge in the Commonwealth, which he has indicated does not bother him in the least.
In one case, Judge Parker over turned a jury verdict for no apparent reason. Fortunately the plaintiff had the resources to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, who ultimately ruled Judge Parker had no authority or basis to overrule the jury.
During the current evaluation period, 155 attorneys and jurors submitted reviews of Judge Parker.
(You can read excerpts of the report below. The entire report is available HERE.)
Of these, only 56 percent found that he displays knowledge of the law every time; only 58 percent found that he is faithful to the law every time; only 54 percent found that he allows lawyers appropriate latitude in presenting their case every time; and only 58 percent found that he exhibits fairness to all parties every time.
Overall only 55.6 percent rated Judge Parker’s performance as “excellent.” So wouldn’t it make sense that a judge who is ranked last among his peers not be reappointed? It would except for the fact that the judicial review process is terribly flawed.
Although the Courts of Justice Committee has decided not to reappoint 15 judges in the past three years, the fact that Judge Burke McCahill, also of the 20th Judicial Circuit, is retiring on January 1st may have some bearing on the decision to reappoint Judge Parker. Lawmakers may not want to have two vacancies on the same court at the same time.
All of that aside, the citizenry should not be made to suffer the rulings of a Judge that ranks dead last in overall performance. Fauquier citizens deserve better than that.
In addition to questions about his performance, there are other factors that should make the decision not to reappoint even clearer. In a recent article on Fauquier Now, Judge Parker who will be 65 in March, admitted he has had severe back and hip problems, and is quoted as saying that even if reappointed, under the current circumstances he would be unlikely to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 73.
So why reappoint a judge with the worst record in the Commonwealth when he has admitted he will likely retire before completing his term as well?
Chairman Albo has indicated that unless local delegates and senators oppose a judge, they will most likely be reappointed. Citizen action is the only way to let our Delegates and Senators know our wishes.
It’s time to put pressure on our elected officials and let them know that it is unacceptable to reappoint the most overturned judge in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
You can help by contacting these legislators and demanding that Judge Jeffrey Parker not be reappointed.
Senator Mark Obenshain (804) 698-7526
Delegate Dave Albo (804) 698-1042
Senator Jill Vogel (804)-698-7527
Delegate Michael Webert (804) 698-1018
Delegate Mark Cole (804) 698-1088
Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (804) 698-1031