- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

RICHMOND (AP) A review of judicial appointments shows the firing of Newport News Circuit Judge Verbena M. Askew was not unprecedented.
After Judge Askew did not win reappointment Wednesday, some legislators called it a "lynching" and complained that she was a victim of racism. Others said Judge Askew deserved her fate after a courthouse employee accused her of sexual harassment and the city of Hampton paid the woman $64,000 in a settlement.
Records reviewed by the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk show that the General Assembly does not reappoint, on average, one or two judges every year. Some are black, like Judge Askew, but most are white. Some are women, but most are men.
In 1996, when Democrats controlled the General Assembly, Hanover Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Nina K. Peace, who is white, was kicked off the bench after a nine-hour public hearing in which lawmakers ripped her temper, her treatment of lawyers and her handling of cases.
Just as in the Peace case, Judge Askew sat through an all-day hearing to expose her flaws. And just as in the Peace case, some Democrats joined Republicans to kill her reappointment.
Last year the General Assembly rejected three sitting judges and forced a fourth to retire. All were white men:
Circuit Judge Roy Willett of Roanoke County was not reappointed after serving 24 years on the bench. His career ended when House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican, said he could no longer support judge Willett because lawyers had complained about his courtroom demeanor and that Judge Willett spent too much time on job-related travel and committee work.
Circuit Judge Donald A. McGlothlin of Russell County was fired after lawmakers criticized his slow pace and his backlog of cases.
Circuit Judge Richard Pattisall of Roanoke County announced his retirement just as the General Assembly was about to dismiss him. Judge Pattisall had earlier flip-flopped on his retirement, angering some lawmakers. In addition, critics accused him of dragging his feet in a case to determine whether new legislative districts were legally drawn.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge J. Wesley McClintock III in Southwest Virginia was not reappointed after prosecutors complained about his conduct.

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