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ArlingtonFilling Circuit Court position may require new District Court judge, too

Filling Circuit Court position may require new District Court judge, too

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The seven members of the Arlington delegation to the General Assembly have made their choice for Arlington’s next Circuit Court judge. Now they have to convince their 133 colleagues in Richmond to support him.

Members of the delegation (three senators, four delegates) have announced their intention to support Daniel T.C. Lopez, currently chief judge of the General District Court, to succeed Circuit Court Judge William Newman Jr. upon the latter’s retirement later this year.

A former County Board member, Newman has served on the 17th Circuit Court for 29 years and has been its chief judge for 19. Newman may serve through the end of the state government’s fiscal year, which runs through June 30.

The court has jurisdiction over Arlington and the city of Falls Church.
“On behalf of the delegation, I’m pleased to bring forward the nomination of Judge Daniel Lopez for the Circuit Court,” Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) told the Sun Gazette.


“Over the last three years as a judge in the District Court, Judge Lopez has established a strong record of judicial temperament, fairness and knowledge of the law,” Hope said. “We look forward to his continued service to the people of Arlington and Falls Church.”

Circuit Court judges are elected by the full General Assembly to serve eight-year terms. In general, recommendations by the legislative delegation in the community where the court is located are ratified by the legislature, although that is not always the case.

(Neither the governor nor the public has any role in the election process, that power long having been held closely by the legislature.)

If elected by the General Assembly, Lopez will join Daniel Fiore II, Judith Wheat and Louise DiMatteo on the Circuit Court bench
. The judges will then select a new chief judge from among their ranks.
The elevation of Lopez to the Circuit Court will leave a General District Court vacancy that also will need to be filled by the General Assembly.

As was the case with the Circuit Court vacancy, the Arlington County Bar Association will take the lead in vetting candidates and providing recommendations to the Arlington legislative delegation. Eligible members of the Bar Association will vote on applicants later in January.

General District Court judges are elected by the legislature for six-year terms. In addition to Lopez, that bench also includes Judges Frances O’Brien and Jason Rucker.

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