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Judge Haley gets appeals court slot
Stafford judge elevated to Virginia Court of Appeals

Date published: 1/19/2005

RICHMOND--State lawmakers have elected Stafford Judge James W. Haley Jr. to fill a vacant seat on the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Haley was supported by House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, his former law school roommate, and Sen. John Chichester, R-Northumberland.

But Haley's nomination was not without controversy.

Democrats had supported a different judge, Terrence Ney of Fairfax, for the position, and felt that Haley was sprung on them at the last minute and pushed through by Republicans.

On the House floor, Republicans nominated Haley and a Democrat nominated Ney.

Haley wound up getting 76 votes to Ney's 18, although not until after a comedy of errors in which delegates had to vote several times because they kept mistakenly doing it wrong.

"This isn't that difficult, but we're going to have to do it again," Howell said after the second vote. By the third, he was assuring gallery visitors that "we don't usually work this way."

Ney wasn't nominated in the Senate, where Haley got 28 votes.

Ney has been a judge for 10 years and, according to Del. Chap Petersen of Fairfax, wrote a textbook on the court of appeals.

Democrats feel like Haley was entered in the running "in the eleventh hour," said Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria.

Moran said Republicans have made a big deal out of changing the judicial selection process to make it more fair, and he said Democrats are concerned that Republicans--who decided in a closed joint caucus meeting Monday night to back Haley--aren't following their own rules.

The Democrats' concern, Moran said, was about that process, and not about Haley's qualifications.

But Howell said both Ney and Haley have been interviewed extensively in the past by the Judicial Advisory Council, a group put together several years ago to interview judicial candidates.

"Both candidates went through the exact same process," Howell said. "They've been vetted thoroughly. We had two very qualified candidates. I just preferred Judge Haley."

Haley has been a circuit court judge for 15 years in Stafford County. He served as a general district court judge and was commonwealth's attorney in King George County.

"Jim's had plenty of experience in the types of law he's going to be dealing with," Howell said.

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