Legislators are looking for a new candidate to fill open positions to serve the 21st Judicial District.

The surprise announcement on Thursday by Martinsville City Attorney Eric Monday that was withdrawing from consideration apparently opened — or reopened — the door to others who may have been interested in the job.

“Another person will need to be interviewed.” Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) wrote in an email Thursday afternoon. “We have not had time to talk about it.”

Marshall, Del. Les Adams (R-Chatham), Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Franklin County) and Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County) are those responsible for advancing names for the district. They did not respond Friday to specific questions from the Bulletin.

Adams, chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees judicial appointments, had said Tuesday that Monday, District Judge Marcus Brinks and attorneys Kimberly Belongia and Jimmy McGarry had been interviewed and determined capable to replace two retiring judges and fill a new seat in District Court.

Those jobs emerged because of a new opening starting July 1 in General District Court and the retirements of judges Bob Bushnell (in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court) and Martin F. Clark Jr. (Circuit Court). Ultimately, all four candidates appeared likely to be seated.

But then Monday, under fire by the bar associations in the Henry and Patrick counties, said he wanted out. Now what will happen?

Numerous other names had emerged in assessments by the bar associations. Some of them — Dawn Futrell, Stephanie Vipperman and Andrew Nester — were judged as qualified or highly qualified for the General District Court bench. The Patrick County Bar Association even went so far to endorse Futrell, McGarry and Vipperman for open seats. The Patrick County Bar rated all three of them as highly qualified for General District Court and endorsed McGarry for that court.

Said Chris Corbett, president of the Patrick County Bar Association, in an email Friday: “The Patrick Bar firmly maintains the validity of its October recommendations of three candidates [for General District Court judge] as being highly qualified – Dawn Futrell, Jimmy McGarry, and Stephanie Vipperman.”

Nester is the Henry County commonwealth’s attorney, and Futrell is longtime assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Henry County. Vipperman is the commonwealth’s attorney for Patrick County. McGarry is a prominent private attorney.

Some in the legal community didn’t want to say much about what might be going on. One lawyer speculated that legislators were reaching out people who originally had applied for the judgeships and even were checking references. But he did not want to be quoted about what he knew.

Stanley’s office did release a statement, received by the Bulletin after a follow-up inquiry on Friday morning, on behalf of the delegation.

“This morning [Thursday] we were notified that Eric Monday, Esquire has withdrawn his application for consideration to serve as General District Court judge for the 21st Judicial District,” the statement said. “As previously reported, Mr. Monday appeared at a public hearing of the joint House Judicial Panel and Senate Committee for Courts of Justice where his application was reviewed. He was subsequently certified without objection, and with our concurrence, as qualified for the position by the full House and Senate Courts of Justice Committees, respectively.

“In consideration of his decision today {Thursday}, we wish to publically express our appreciation to Mr. Monday for his previous decision to apply for the position and willingness to be considered for service to the judiciary.”

Monday’s candidacy for the bench had become a point of public concern after he Martinsville-Henry County Bar Association and the Patrick County Bar each had held a special vote to address his candidacy.

The Patrick County Bar on Feb. 7 unanimously approved a resolution finding Monday unqualified. That resolution cited that he had not submitted a resume or otherwise requested consideration by the bar. But it said members were familiar with his record. Monday night, 20 members of the Martinsville-Henry County Bar Association rated Eric Monday not qualified to serve on the bench.

On Thursday afternoon, Monday emailed his statement to the Bulletin.

“For the last two weeks there has been a well-organized campaign by people grinding very rusty, old axes, to attack my character, professional reputation and competency to be a judge,” Monday wrote in his statement. “This campaign was also designed to tarnish my ‘legitimacy,’ in the event that I was actually selected. It is apparent to me that this campaign has at least partially succeeded.

“I have no desire to continue to subject either me or my family to these attacks.”

Several lawyers said Wednesday and Thursday that in addition to opposition expressed by the two bar associations, they understand some members of the public contacted legislators to express their opposition to Monday’s being elected judge.

Legislators did not respond to specific questions from the Bulletin about how Monday became a candidate if his name was not among the lawyers who initially were considered by the two bar associations.

Monday was known to be active in political circles, contributing to campaigns and holding campaign events at his home.

According to Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in Virginia politics, Monday has made $22,111 in contributions since around 2001 (a few dates for donations are not listed). All but $900 went to Republican candidates and included $750 for Adams in 2013; $500 for Marshall in 2001 and 2007; $500 for Stanley in 2011; and $250 for Poindexter in 2011.

He also donated a total of $7,923 for John Brownlee for attorney general in 2008 and 2009, a total of $3,000 for David Young for delegate in 2005, a total of $1,848 for Brett Geisler for delegate in 2001, a total of $1,309 for Bob McDonnell for governor in 2008 and 2009, $1,000 for Robert Hurt for delegate in 2001 and various other amounts to statewide candidates.

“Many factors are considered, including endorsements or rankings by the local bar associations, which are usually provided to the legislators by the bar presidents,” Adams wrote in his email Tuesday. “ Selected candidates are then invited to be interviewed by the Joint House and Senate Judicial Panel. … Judges are ultimately elected when named on a resolution, following certification, that passes by a majority vote in both houses of the General Assembly."

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