The Loudoun County chapter of the NAACP held a press conference this afternoon urging state lawmakers to give the only black candidate for the vacant Circuit Court judgeship a fair shot.
The NAACP has joined the Loudoun legal community in raising concerns that one of the six attorneys known to be vying for the position, Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher, did not go to the Loudoun Bar Association seeking endorsement. He instead was the first and only candidate to appear before the House and Senate Courts of Justice committees, which will determine which candidates are qualified to be appointed to judgeships during the upcoming session, before the Loudoun Bar completed its recommendations.
During today’s press conference, held on the Loudoun County Courthouse lawn, Loudoun’s NAACP President Phillip Thompson said the racial makeup of government officials does not reflect the racial makeup of the county’s population. He called for the appointment of Lorrie Sinclair to the post. Sinclair last year was appointed to a six-year term as a substitute judge in the 20th Circuit.
“Loudoun County has no minority judges, and it has been that way forever,” he said. “We believe, if the process is fair and impartial, [Sinclair] will have an opportunity to become a judge in Loudoun County.”
Del. Jennifer Boyko (D-86) read a letter signed by most of the state senators and delegates who represent Loudoun in the General Assembly that criticizes the Courts of Justice committees’ process. No state lawmaker who represents Loudoun sits on those committees.
The letter states that “it is troubling that a candidate has been forwarded to the Courts of Justice Committees without the proper vetting of candidates that would include the completed evaluation by the Loudoun Bar Association and a formal interview of the candidates by the members of the Loudoun delegation. … To proceed with an appointment without the involvement of the entire Loudoun delegation to the General Assembly disenfranchises the representation of hundreds of thousands of Loudoun citizens.”
Five Loudoun attorneys have applied to the Loudoun Bar seeking its endorsement: Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Sean Morgan; Lorrie Sinclair and Matthew Snow, who are partners at Biberaj Snow & Sinclair in Leesburg; sole practitioner Danell J. Palladine; and Kristin Quirk, an associate at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy. Morgan and Sinclair were among the candidates considered for the seat two years ago. Fisher, who previous served as a deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Loudoun, did not seek the Bar’s endorsement.