RICHMOND — Virginia Republicans say they will reject Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s pick for the state’s newest Supreme Court justice and install their own choice — an unprecedented move in modern Virginia history.
The decision added another layer of tension to the already fraught relationship between McAuliffe (D) and the GOP-controlled legislature, with the governor accusing legislative leaders of throwing “a political temper tantrum.”
“This woman is highly qualified, and I’ve got to tell you, it doesn’t send a good message to women around the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said about the GOP decision not to back his appointment of former Fairfax Circuit Court judge Jane Marum Roush.
“This is the same group of individuals who have tried to roll back women’s rights and tried to hurt women’s rights in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said lawmakers will elect Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. to the Supreme Court when they convene in Richmond on Aug. 17 for a special legislative session.
Shame on Virginia Republicans. Rossie D. Alston might not be the best person for the job. He used to be a circuit court judge right here in Prince William County and some of his decisions were very questionable in high-profile cases. Alston is known for his “designer sentences” that are light on crime.
One of the most controversial cases was that of Kevin Kelly, who inadvertently left his young daughter in the family van. She died. Kelly had 13 or 14 kids and thought one of the other children had retrieved the little girl. You just can’t delegate that kind of responsibility. Kelly owned it. Frances was his child. He was ordered by Judge Alston to spend every February 21 in jail for the next 7 years. That’s a total sentence of 7 days in jail for carelessness that killed his child. He also had to volunteer for 2 hours a week and to sponsor an annual blood drive in the name of his daughter.
An even more controversial local case was that of State Trooper Buck Carter. Carter stalked women in bars or waited outside bars, followed them, attempted to charge them with DUI but instead, let them barter away the charge in exchange for sex. After he was arrested, dozens of women came forward with similar complaints. Carter was rude and insulting to the drivers he pulled over and their passengers. His punishment for being a sexual predator while in a trusted capacity was 500 hours of community service over 7 years. He also had to report for jail for 2 days on January 9 for 7 years, and he had to go to a sexual addiction program and write a public apology.
BFD. Carter told the court he just thought “he didn’t love himself enough.” He had to spend 14 days in jail and do 500 hours of community service for what amounted to dozens and dozens of cases of rape.
These are examples of Judge Rossie Alston’s judicial decisions. In my eyes, he slapped both men on the wrist for what most of us consider heinous crimes. This is not who I want sitting on the Virginia Supreme Court. Contrast his high-profile cases to Judge Jane Roush. a well-regarded jurist who has presided over many high-profile cases including the trial of D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Malvo received life in prison and now is serving multiple life sentences at Red Onion State Correctional facility. Red Onion is where the worst of our worst go to prison.
Which judge has the best track record? Roush or Alston? The choice should be clear. I was actually glad when I read that Alston had been “promoted” to the Virginia Court of Appeals. He was no longer in Prince William County slapping people on the wrist for doing really bad things. An argument can be made for Kelly receiving a light sentence because he did not intentionally leave his child in his car. He made a deadly careless mistake. However, Buck Carter knew exactly what he was doing and intended to solicit sexual favors from drunken women. He should have spent 20 years in the slammer. He was a rude pig.
Shame on Virginia Republican lawmakers for attempting to pull a respected woman off the bench and replacing her with a “wrist slapper.” Their attempts are unprecedented.