- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 8, 2004

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Gov. Mark Warner yesterday reappointed a judge to the Hampton Circuit Court after the judge was refused a new eight-year term by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in March.

Judge William C. Andrews III will return to the bench after Delegate Thomas Gear, Hampton Republican, fought to have him removed, arguing that Judge Andrews has reversed nearly half of the lower-court drunken-driving convictions appealed to his court.

However, Mr. Warner’s office said he reiterated his commitment to cracking down on drunken drivers during a conversation with Judge Andrews in March, and he believes the judge deserves reappointment.

“Judge Andrews has a distinguished record as a jurist in Virginia,” Mr. Warner said. “He has the full support of the legal community in Hampton, and I am confident that he will continue to serve with integrity and a commitment to equal justice.”

After the General Assembly voted to deny Judge Andrews another term, Senate Republicans and allies of the judge refused to cooperate with Mr. Gear on naming a replacement during the regular session. That left the decision up to Mr. Warner, a Democrat.

The rare move by Mr. Warner of reappointing Judge Andrews to the bench comes a week after he signed 25 drunken-driving bills into law during a ceremony at the state Capitol.

“Obviously, the governor has not been down Hampton Roads Center Parkway or Mercury Boulevard and seen the makeshift memorials by the citizens of this city for the three people killed by DUIs [driving under the influence] this past year,” Mr. Gear said.

The governor’s reappointment expires a month after the General Assembly meets again, meaning Judge Andrews could be off the bench again by mid-February.

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