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David Carson is currently chairman of the Roanoke School Board and Leisa Ciaffone has served as a substitute judge in juvenile courts.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Two open judgeships within the Roanoke Valley were filled early Thursday as the Virginia General Assembly elected David Carson to serve as a circuit court judge and Leisa Ciaffone as a judge in Roanoke's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Effective July 1, Carson and Ciaffone will assume benches left open in the 23rd Judicial Circuit by the respective retirements of Roanoke Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Apgar and Roanoke J&D Judge John Ferguson.
Terms of circuit court judges span eight years; J&D terms extend six years.
Carson, 49, has been chairman of the Roanoke School Board since 2006. Assistant City Attorney Tim Spencer said Thursday that Carson's judgeship would designate him a state officer and, therefore, make him unable to remain chairman of the school board.
"I would like to continue to serve if I'm able to do so, but initial indications are that I am not," said Carson, who has served on the board for eight years and will still have one year left in his term on July 1.
"In my eight years, we've never had this situation," Carson added.
Spencer said that by city code, Carson could serve on the school board through June 30 and said that if he were required to step down, the Roanoke City Council would appoint a replacement.
Salem attorney Ciaffone, 52, has served as a substitute judge in juvenile courts since 2002.
In the wake of her election to the bench, Ciaffone said she was preparing to close her Salem legal practice.
"I've been a lawyer for 25 years and it's a little daunting to change careers ... although I'm over the moon with happiness," Ciaffone said.
On Monday, Carson and Ciaffone received public support from two state senators, John Edwards, D-Roanoke, and Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County.
That move mirrored an endorsement in February by the Roanoke Bar Association, which backed Ciaffone for the J&D judgeship, and named Carson as its first preference for the open circuit bench, followed by Roanoke lawyer Frank Rogers should funding become available to fill a second circuit court seat.
Late Friday afternoon, the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association endorsed Ciaffone and Rogers.
According to a schedule posted on the Virginia General Assembly's web site, Carson and Rogers were the two candidates interviewed for circuit court vacancy, and Ciaffone was the only candidate interviewed for her position. Those interviews took place Tuesday afternoon, according to the schedule.
Last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that he had proposed $1.8 million in budget amendments to the General Assembly that could fill 11 vacancies around the state. McDonnell's amendments went to an assembly vote Wednesday.
Judicial elections were the primary reason for a special House session that ran Wednesday from about 8 p.m. until about 12:45 a.m. Thursday.
In the 27th Judicial District, H. Lee Harrell of Wytheville was tapped for a six-year term as a General District Court judge. That district serves Radford and the counties of Bland, Carroll, Floyd, Galax, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski and Wythe.
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