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State of Virginia

History of Reform Efforts: Virginia

Formal Changes Since Inception

Judges elected for life by the general assembly.

Judges elected by the people. Tenure of justices of the supreme court of appeals changed from life to twelve-year terms. Tenure of circuit court judges changed from life to eight-year terms.

Judges elected by the general assembly "from persons nominated by the governor."

Judges elected by the general assembly; gubernatorial nomination no longer required.

Name of the supreme court of appeals changed to "supreme court."

Court of appeals created.

Chief justice of the supreme court selected by peer vote to a four-year term. The statute does not apply to the current chief justice, who holds the position by virtue of seniority.

SB 244 restructured the magistrate court system. Appointment and supervisory responsibilities transferred from the circuit court judges to the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court. Magistrate judges named after July 1st 2008 must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, and chief magistrates must be members in good standing of the Bar. During their tenure, magistrates cannot practice the law or other business unless granted permission by Executive Secretary. Probationary period for magistrates is extended from six to nine months.