Norfolk delegation backs Del. Joe Lindsey for judgeship

Del. Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

State lawmakers who represent Norfolk are backing one of their own for a vacant judgeship on the Norfolk General District Court, according to a letter obtained by The Virginia Mercury.

The General Assembly’s Norfolk delegation is proposing Del. Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk, a trial lawyer who has also served as a substitute judge, to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge S. Clark Daugherty.

“We do intend to elect him to a full term of office at the next session of the General Assembly,” the Norfolk delegation wrote in a letter earlier this month to Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall of the Norfolk Circuit Court. “Further, we see no reason why he should not be appointed pursuant to your authority to begin his judicial service to the City and the Commonwealth at this time.”

The letter said the Norfolk delegation had met recently to interview judicial candidates and “unanimously” selected Lindsey.

Lindsey did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The General Assembly has the power to appoint judges, but state law allows circuit courts to fill vacancies on a temporary basis if the legislature is not in session. In making judicial picks, lawmakers typically defer to regional delegations to make decisions about their area’s courts.

“He knows the ins and outs of what happens in the court,” Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, one of the letter’s signatories. “I think he’ll be fair to everybody.”

Spruill defeated Lindsey in a 2016 primary for the Senate seat Spruill now holds.

A judicial appointment would require Lindsey to vacate the House of Delegates seat he’s held since 2014. When Democrats assumed control of the House this year, Lindsey was named chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, which passed a package of high-profile bills to make voting easier.

Depending on the timing of his possible judicial appointment, the move could trigger a special election in the Norfolk-anchored 90th House District. Because the General Assembly is still technically in special session, the appointment could come after its formal adjournment next month.

Former Del. Chris Collins, a Winchester-area Republican, resigned under similar circumstances this summer after being selected for a local judgeship. A special election for his former seat will be held next week.