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Attorneys Frank Rogers and Leisa Ciaffone were endorsed for circuit and juvenile court openings.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
The Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association on Friday endorsed attorneys Frank Rogers and Leisa Ciaffone to fill recent vacancies in the 23rd Judicial Circuit.
That announcement came just a few days after Gov. Bob McDonnell announced he had proposed budget amendments to the General Assembly that could possibly fill one of the two benches left empty by the recent retirements of Roanoke Circuit Court Judges Robert “Pat” Doherty and Jonathan Apgar. McDonnell also aims to fund a replacement for Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge John Ferguson, due to retire later this year.
The budget amendments will go to an assembly vote Wednesday.
“We were waiting till the financing was secure” to make a decision, John Koehler, the association’s corresponding secretary, said Friday. “We didn’t want to insert ourselves into the process too soon.”
Koehler said the group was backing Rogers for the circuit court opening and Ciaffone for the juvenile and domestic relations vacancy.
That mostly echoed selections made by the Roanoke Bar Association in February. The RBA also picked Ciaffone for the J&D slot but, in anticipation of two circuit court vacancies, tapped David Carson for the first vacancy and Rogers for the potential second vacancy.
In the wake of discussion about new funding for the two judgeships, word also circulated this week within Roanoke legal channels that another candidate might be a front-runner for one of the openings: Del. Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke, a lawyer in private practice.
Ware said Friday he had also heard rumors of that possibility, but said he dismissed them as gossip.
“Nobody’s approached me or urged me,” he said.
Ware, who said he’s filed paperwork to run for re-election to the House of Delegates this fall, said he hasn’t yet made a decision whether to seek another term.
“I’ve always said I’ll give it five terms, 10 years, and then re-evaluate,” he explained, but added that a potential judgeship is “not what’s driving my decision one way or the other.”
“I’m 70 to 75 percent sure I’m going to seek re-election. But I’m usually more sure than that,” Ware said.
“I’ve heard more rumors than I’ve heard hard facts on anything, related to who might be favored,” Koehler said.
“This happens every time there’s a judicial vacancy,” he added. “Until the legislature or the circuit court judges make the appointment, you’ll never know.”
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