All seven people seeking to be named as the replacement for Judge Paul Peatross attended a forum held last night by Del. Rob Bell. (NBC 29, CBS 19, DP) Bell did not attend his forum, and he likewise missed the bar association’s forum. Only two of those candidates were recommended by the bar — Judge Robert Downer and prosecutor Cheryl Higgins — but the General Assembly is functionally free to pick anybody that they want. The purpose of the forum was to have a committee of five people, selected by Del. Bell, quiz the applicants and render their verdict on who would make the best candidate. The only un-endorsements from the audience were from people speaking out against Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos. The positive comments were largely in favor of Judge Downer and Camblos. Though, as it turns out, Camblos’ praise was a setup.
One reporter tells me that, after talking with some of the speakers and all of the judicial candidates, he caught Jim Camblos stacking the deck. All of the other candidates respected process, while it turns out that Camblos convinced five people to attend the forum to stand up and speak in support of him. That kind of thing is, unfortunately, par for the course for Camblos.
Judge Peatross’ retirement takes effect at the end of this month, so the General Assembly will need to take this up in the next couple of weeks.