Members of the Eastern Shore Bar Association overwhelmingly voted Wednesday night to recommend District Court Judge Gordon Vincent for the circuit court bench being vacated by Judge W. Revell Lewis III at the end of the year.
Vincent, appointed in 2006 during Governor Bob McDonnell’s tenure, received 29 votes over three votes for retiring Democratic State Sen. Lynwood Lewis. The spot will be filled by the General Assembly this winter.
Sen. Lewis said the custom and tradition for the local bar association is to rate each candidate as either not qualified, qualified, or highly qualified.
Association President Jack Thornton, who is also Northampton’s prosecutor, said local Bars sometimes rate candidates and other times to recommend.
According to Thornton, the Bar met in Accomac, on Oct. 25, to determine a process. Sen. Lewis and Judge Vincent made statements at that time. The group determined that they would recommend one of the two by secret ballot on Nov. 8.
A committee was also chosen to draft five questions for each candidate and they answered via email to Thornton and Rachel Kellam, the treasurer/secretary.
“We’ve done it both ways in the past,” said Thornton. “For Judge Cela Burge and Judge Revell Lewis, there were preference votes,” said Thornton.
Vincent has been the General District Judge since 2008. Sen. Lewis has practiced law, in Accomac, for 30 years and was elected Delegate and Senator.
“This is counter to the way the General Assembly likes to receive the local bar’s input and is certainly not determinative of the outcome,” Sen. Lewis said Thursday.
Judges are chosen in Virginia by the General Assembly. Virginia Democrats took control of both houses in Tuesday’s election.
“I can’t control the General Assembly,” said Thornton. “The bar can’t control the General Assembly. The people in the best position to make a recommendation, i.e. attorneys, lawyers and the legal community of Eastern Shore have made quite a statement and I would hope the General Assembly would take that into account,” said Thornton. “The legislature is going to do what they are going to do, there’s nothing we can do about that.”
The seat has been held by Judge Revell Lewis since 2011. He announced his retirement in October.