Judicial Appointment: Higgins vs. Camblos

Bob Gibson writes in today’s Daily Progress that the contest for Judge Paul Peatross’ now-vacated seat comes down to Republicans Cheryl Higgins and Jim Camblos. The other applicants might be perfectly fine, but they’re not a) Republicans or b) playing the political game. Legislative aides are awash in complaints about the possibility of a Judge Camblos — constituent calls are about opposing him, not supporting others, because he’s just that unpopular of a guy. Del. Bill Janis, an old friend of Camblos, fully intends to put partisanship ahead of good public policy, but Gibson figures that Dels. Rob Bell and David Toscano are probably undecided at this point.

If you want to express your feelings on the candidates, you can contact Del. Bell’s office (804-698-1058, DelRBell@house.state.va.us), Del. Janis’ office (804-698-1056, DelBJanis@house.state.va.us), or Del. Toscano’s office (804-698-1057, DelDToscano@house.state.va.us), depending on who your delegate is. Sen. Ken Stolle is the guy who ultimately calls the shots on this, since he’s the chair of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, so those with particularly strong feelings would want to contact his office (804-698-7508, district08@sov.state.va.us). No matter who you call, you’ll be greeted by somebody whose sole job is to take calls like this — it just takes a minute, and can make all the difference. Unless your representative is Del. Janis. I can’t see how that’ll do anything.

12 thoughts on “Judicial Appointment: Higgins vs. Camblos”

  1. This is a great idea, and I’m glad to see constructive suggestions rather than the usual moaning about anyone-but Camblos. I’ll point out once again, however, that there is little information for people to use when making suggestions to their representatives. The bar process (and I’m beginning to sound like a crank, I fear) was every bit as partisan as the General Assembly process. Insiders to that (since we seem to have entered the ‘unattributed source’ portion of this debate) believe that the bar wanted to endorse Downer, and the second endorsement was to provide the appearance of objective review to allow them to push Downer forward. Higgins is qualified, but no more so than several of the other candidates. Our local bar simply doesn’t endorse prosecutors, and the other non-prosecutors among the candidates were less strong. Unfortunately, since the press hasn’t provided any comprehensive information about the other candidates, this isn’t very clear to the public. As one of a handful of people who actually attended both public forums, I can say that there is a lot of information that simply hasn’t been disseminated.

    The Daily Progress site is fairly difficult to search, but perhaps some searches for the various candidate names is the only way to even attempt to be informed.

  2. I see Mama’s point, but I had to write an email to register my discontent. I’m actually afraid of what Comblos can do with the power he already has. There’s no way I would want him to have even more power.

  3. I certainly wish that I knew more about the applicants, and I believe I’ve read everything local media outlets have provided about them. On the one hand, as an Anybody But Camblos supporter, it doesn’t much matter, but on the other hand it’d be nice to be able to support somebody instead of merely opposing somebody.

  4. Bob Gibson states: “Some of these detractors are quite vocal in private. Some are also chicken to say anything in public, according to two legislative aides hearing from Camblos detractors.” But some of those detractors did speak in public at the second forum (that Gibson did not attend). The real chicken in all this is Bell who won’t stand up and say what his non-partisan group recommended, nor what he thinks. He wants to do it all in secret, and without takeing a stand so that he won’t be held accountable. The contrast between him and the strong leadership of Paul Harris is striking.
    If one truly is interested in knowing what these candidates can do, all it takes is going down and sitting in on court. It doesn’t take long to see the work that Downer does, and the basis for his endorsement by the FOP, Greene-Madison Bar, and C’ville/Albemarle Bar. You are able to do the same with several of the other candidates. It is free for anyone to do.

  5. Not being able to pick Camblos out of a lineup, please don’t take this as unwavering support for him. But, he has a different role as Comm. Atty. than he would as a judge. It’s likely he has cultivated a public personality that suits the office he currently holds. There have been many transformations caused by reaching the bench (or reaching a new bench — David Souter/Anthony Kennedy among them, to 41’s dismay). But it’s something you can’t count on, only hope for.

  6. You’re absolutely right about the judicial transformation, Stormy (though that may be unique to SCOTUS judges), but the trouble is that Camblos is just as disliked for his private interactions as his public ones.

    I once served on a committee with him for a meeting that lasted about an hour — his role on that committee was voluntary, as a citizen. It took five minutes before everybody in that room hated him. Seldom have I met somebody who could be so condescending, churlish, arrogant, and just plain mean as to make so many people dislike them so quickly. I was hardly a Camblos fan before this interaction — which took place around 2001 — but any sympathy I had for him prior that evaporated at that point.

  7. Hello all,
    This is my first post here and it is rather lengthy. Please bear with me.

    Earlier this morning I sent the following email to Mr. Bob Gibson along with an attachment. You will find the contents of the attachement after the email. The attachment is the information I provided to CABA and various elected officials.

    Dear Mr. Gibson,

    I have some comments concerning your article dated February 4, 2007.

    It would certainly be a disappointment for me to see Mr. Jim Camblos selected as a judge. Not only because of what I personally know about him but also because I have made some of that information available to Senators Deeds and Hanger and Delegates Bell, Toscano, Abbit, and Landes. I made them aware of the information because each of them represents at least some areas of Albemarle County. I also intend to provide the same information to the remainder of elected officials who represent the remaining areas of the 16th Judicial Circuit. It is even more disappointing to hear Delegate Landes state that Jim Camblos is his first choice especially in light of the fact that Delegate Landes has been made aware of serious deficiencies in Mr. Camblos’ qualifications.

    I have not made any secret of the information I have disclosed about Mr. Camblos. I spoke publicly at the panel hearing organized by Delegate Bell voicing my concerns about Mr. Camblos and I also provided the information in writing to each member of the panel.

    Perhaps one of the most disappointing events is the lack of the media reporting on the serious incidents I have disclosed pertaining to Mr. Camblos. I did not lightly or flippantly disclose the information pertaining to Mr. Camblos. The information I disclosed is factual and should be made known to the public so that if Mr. Camblos is selected as a judge citizens will have at least some idea of what to expect.

    Karl Mansoor
    Master Police Officer Albemarle County PD

    Copy of attachment:

    December 29, 2006

    Donald R. Morin, Esquire
    Morin & Barkley
    Charlottesville, VA 22902

    Dear Mr. Morin,

    The purpose of this correspondence is to provide information to be considered when making a determination as to who should be appointed to the, soon to be vacant, seat in Albemarle Circuit Court.

    As a police officer with the Albemarle County Police Department from 1994 until 2004, I had various interactions with Mr. Jim Camblos. Listed below are some incidents, for which I have direct knowledge, that I think speak to the character and values of Jim Camblos and should be available to those considering the appointment of Jim Camblos to the Albemarle County Circuit Court.

    Several years ago a tragic accident occurred in Albemarle County on Rt. 29 in which three female occupants were killed. The surviving husband, father and grandfather was upset that Jim Camblos chose not to prosecute the other driver involved and Jim Camblos perceived that his safety was threatened and began carrying a gun. On March 25, 1999, in the reception area of the Commonwealth Attorneys office located in the General District Court building, Mr. Camblos decided he wanted to show off his perceived fast draw skills. In front of me, other police officers, and office staff, Mr. Camblos reached across to his pistol, unholstered it and started pointing it about the room. As he unholstered the weapon, he caused it to be pointed directly at various people including an Albemarle County Police Detective and me. As Jim Camblos was doing this he was saying, “See how fast I can draw.” I was shocked at his reckless behavior and I told him, “Jim, that’s dangerous.” He then responded with, “It won’t go off unless I pull the trigger.” Mr. Camblos also said he wanted me to shoot the surviving husband if I saw him. When I asked why, Mr. Camblos indicated to me that if the surviving husband were to come on to his property that he would shoot him. This wasn’t the only time when Mr. Camblos engaged in this type of unsafe demonstration.

    On September 19, 1998, an Albemarle County Police Officer shot accidentally at a male subject by the name of “Luckey Edwin Brooks Cash”. The involved officer told many officers at the scene that he shot accidentally. The officer also told me he shot accidentally and that he was worried about losing his job.

    Police department detectives investigated the incident and discussed it with Mr. Camblos. Mr. Camblos told the detectives that they had probable cause to charge the shooting officer with reckless use of a firearm and he recommended that they do so. The investigating detectives then presented their findings to police department administrators including Chief Miller.

    Police department administrators, including Chief Miller, then met with Mr. Camblos and because an accidental shooting by a police officer along with a charge of reckless use of a firearm would present the police department in a negative light, police department administrators worked in conjunction with Mr. Camblos to allow this incident to be falsely portrayed. After Mr. Camblos spoke with police department administrators, he sent a letter to the investigating detectives telling them that the investigation was incomplete and to reinvestigate. The detectives then were told by police department administrators to “be careful” of what they put in their report and to leave out the statement that indicated Mr. Camblos stating that the shooter should be charged.

    This incident was a cover-up in the police department and was falsely and purposely presented as a legitimate shooting. Mr. Camblos was aware of the improper nature of the shooting and allowed it to be portrayed as legitimate.

    The person that was shot at, Mr. Cash, was intoxicated at the time of the incident. He was charged with several felonies to which he pled guilty. At trial, the officer that accidentally shot at Mr. Cash changed his story to indicate he was defending the life of another officer.

    My conviction of the validity of this account of events has developed over time from statements made to me, before and after this trial occurred, and written documentation that I have seen. Some time after the trial and conviction I became aware of the report by the investigating detectives which indicated that Mr. Camblos told the detectives they had grounds for a criminal charge against the shooting officer. I showed the report to the attorney for Mr. Cash. She told me that it was exculpatory evidence and that Mr. Camblos never made that known to her or available. I also personally spoke with the investigating detectives and they provided some of the above information directly to me.

    In another incident, juveniles under the care of a police department supervisor were inappropriately touched by that same supervisor. Several officers were aware of this incident and felt compelled to bring this to the attention of Mr. Camblos because of the pattern in the Albemarle County Police Department of cover-ups and retaliation against any officers who would speak up about or try to expose police misconduct. Instead of having this incident properly investigated, Mr. Camblos allowed an anonymous letter to be generated from his office which then was sent to Chief Miller. Chief Miller allowed this anonymous letter to be provided to the suspected supervisor who then went on a hunt in the department to find out who was responsible for speaking up about this matter and to intimidate anyone who would speak up about the matter. All of this allowed for this incident in the police department to never be legitimately investigated and to be covered up. I personally spoke with the juveniles involved in this matter and they told me they had been touched inappropriately. One of the juveniles was never interviewed at all by police department investigators and both juveniles were told to keep quiet about the matter by police department administrators. The parents of the juveniles were never informed of this incident until I went to speak with them years after it happened.

    I have personally brought information to the attention of Mr. Camblos involving police misconduct before I was aware of his involvement in allowing for cover-ups. At the time I provided the information to Mr. Camblos, I was not aware of his involvement in the incidents, however, he was already aware of what I was telling him. Rather than telling me he already knew about the incidents, he feigned ignorance, consulted with a police department official and then later told me his office would not look into the incidents I mentioned. Shortly after I spoke with Mr. Camblos and he consulted with a police department official, administrators within and without the police department began to take steps to attempt to keep me from disclosing this and similar information.

    In order for a judge to be respected and fairly and impartially impose judgment, it is critical that he or she display exemplary character especially when acting as an officer of the court. For the lack of such exemplary character and judgment as demonstrated by the behavior listed above, I strongly urge you to reject Mr. Jim Camblos for a position as a judge.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need substantiation for the information listed above.

    Thank you,

    Karl Mansoor

    cc: Senator R. Creigh Deeds
    Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
    Delegate Robert B. Bell
    Delegate David J. Toscano
    Delegate Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr.
    Delegate R. Steven Landes

  8. In front of me, other police officers, and office staff, Mr. Camblos reached across to his pistol, unholstered it and started pointing it about the room. As he unholstered the weapon, he caused it to be pointed directly at various people including an Albemarle County Police Detective and me. As Jim Camblos was doing this he was saying, “See how fast I can draw.” I was shocked at his reckless behavior and I told him, “Jim, that’s dangerous.” He then responded with, “It won’t go off unless I pull the trigger.” Mr. Camblos also said he wanted me to shoot the surviving husband if I saw him. When I asked why, Mr. Camblos indicated to me that if the surviving husband were to come on to his property that he would shoot him.


    That’s Edward Deane that he’s talking about. Ed is a family friend. The story of Camblos and Ed Deane was recounted on cvillenews.com last year, but this story is particularly appalling. I can’t claim to be surprised though. Camblos threatening to kill the victim of terrible accident (after not prosecuting the perpetrator) is about par for the course for the man.

    For those who don’t know, Karl Mansoor — who posted the prior comment — won a free expression lawsuit against the county after they barred him from criticizing Albemarle County. The county ultimately settled that suit after realizing that appeals would do them no good.

  9. Brandishing a firearm in the manner described is potentially a misdemeanor. I should be shocked that someone who would recklessly point a pistol at innocent bystanders in a government office would then have the nerve to try to tell me and every other law-abiding gun owner in Albemarle County where and when it is appropriate for us to discharge a firearm on our own rural land. But then we’ve come to expect this thing from Jim Camblos.

  10. Providing Camblos gets the judicial nod, Albemarle County will have no one to blame but themselves. Albemarle Voters have a long history of electing people who are either incompetent, unrepresentative of the County’s beliefs or just flat out jerks. Ed Robb and Camblos fit all three categories while Mr. Bell is so far right and so into his own political career that he is choosing to serve himself rather than the citizens of Albemarle.

    Congratulations Albemarle on your fine historical choices, may you now wallow in the decisions you have made. Maybe next time you go to the ballot box, or computer screen, you will realize your vote actually means something. This is going to be a hard (civics) lesson to learn.

    PS Anyone know where we can get some Harding for Sheriff bumper stickers, he seems to fall right in line with the status quo

Comments are closed.