- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

RICHMOND | Barely two weeks after Delegate Kenneth Melvin of Portsmouth leaves his legislative seat in Richmond, he will take a seat as a judge in Portsmouth.

Gov. Tim Kaine appointed the 12-term fellow Democrat to a vacant Circuit Court seat in Mr. Melvin's hometown on Tuesday.

The appointment came a day before Mr. Melvin and his legislative colleagues vote on amendments and vetoes that Mr. Kaine made to legislation from the 2009 session, which adjourned Feb. 28.

Business interests are fiercely lobbying against them.

House Republican Leader H. Morgan Griffith said it was clumsy at best for the governor to make the announcement the day before lawmakers reconvene for one day.

Mr. Melvin, 56, announced his intent in February not to seek another term in the House.

“We've known about [Melvin's appointment] for a while, but it creates a sort of a sense of impropriety the day before the veto session,” Mr. Griffith said. “That said, I don't worry about it because we know Kenny's an honorable person, and it won't change the way he would vote.”

The announcement doesn't affect Mr. Melvin's standing as a member of the House because he has not resigned from the House and he does not take his judicial oath until May 1, said Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey.

One of the House's most spellbinding orators, Mr. Melvin became one of the General Assembly's most passionate advocates for minority rights after he took his seat in 1986.

In an emotional floor speech on the Martin Luther King holiday, Mr. Melvin eloquently told a transfixed House how growing up black in Virginia during the civil rights struggle made the next day's inauguration of President Obama one of his life's most special days.

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