Six practicing attorneys vying for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judgeship came before the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association Monday night, touting their experience and empathy.
The bar will endorse one of the six candidates to the General Assembly, which will select a replacement next month for Judge Dwight D. Johnson, who soon will retire from the bench.
“We must never forget that judges are public servants,” said David B. Franzen, an attorney and substitute judge.
“You need to understand and pose questions to children in a way that is developmentally correct,” Albemarle County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Darby G. Lowe told the small crowd that gathered to hear the forum. If appointed, she said she would take care to make children feel as comfortable as possible while giving testimony.
Charlottesville Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Claude V. Worrell promised to put aside previous experiences with any parties that might come before him and judge solely on the facts presented at trial.
“The only decision you can make is based on the facts and evidence before you,” he said. Worrell added that he is troubled by the community’s lack of interest in crime affecting families living in poverty.
Attorney and substitute judge Deborah S. Tinsley said she thinks it is the judge’s role to take control of the courtroom by scheduling a realistic docket. She has more than 25 years of experience as a lawyer, she said.
Charlottesville Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth V. Killeen said she has specialized experience handling juvenile cases as a prosecutor. The child of two teachers, Killeen says she enjoys being “involved and of value to the community.”
Attorney Helen E. Phillips, who practices law in Bristol, said that if appointed judge, she would be able to treat plaintiffs and defendants from all walks of life fairly.
“I think the bottom line is respect and experience. You treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said.
Last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced a budget plan that provided funding for Johnson’s replacement.
Johnson’s last day on the bench is Jan. 31.