Delegates May Block Reelection of Loudoun Judge

Two Loudoun County Circuit Court Judges are up for reappointment during this year’s General Assembly session and the typically routine reelection is in question for one of them.

Stephen E. Sincavage was appointed to the bench by Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2013 to fill the seat of retired Judge James H. Chamblin. He elected to a full eight-year term in 2014. His term expires this month.

Jeanette A. Irby was elected to the bench in 2014 to fill the seat of retired Judge Thomas D. Horne. Her term expires Dec. 1.

Both were proposed for reelection by the state Senate, but during a vote on the floor of the House of Delegates last week, Irby’s name was one of two judges removed from the nomination list. The House subsequently voted to approve the nomination of Judge Tanya Bullock of the Second Circuit in Virginia Beach, but a vote to add Irby back on the list was passed by for the day on the motion of Courts of Justice Committee Vice Chairman Les R. Adams (R-16). As of Tuesday, her nomination had not been revisited. A third judge, Lynn S. Brice of the 12th Circuit in Chesterfield was nominated by the House, but not the Senate.

During a Dec. 10 interview before members of the House Courts of Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, questions to Irby centered on her low scores in the Judicial Performance Evaluations, which include input from attorneys and courtroom staff members. Irby was ranked 47th among the 50 Circuit, District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations judges up for reelection. She received low scores in eight of the 20 evaluation categories, including fairness, impartiality, and courtesy and respect.

“I find it to be one of the most fulfilling positions I have had throughout my career. I would like to continue because I feel I continue to grow with my experience,” she told the assembly members. She noted that it takes a few years to get up to speed on the bench and said she continues to strive for improvements.

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-25), co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked about the low scores for demeanor and knowledge of the law.

“Personally, they were disappointing to me. But when I took a step back and looked at it, I thought there is room for me to make some improvements, to assess what I am doing, to try to really ascertain what I can do to focus on to make myself a better judge,” Irby said.

She said the evaluations and her work with more experienced court mentors were important as she continues to grow in the job.

“The feedback is very important to me because you know many times people don’t want to give feedback to a judge,” she said. “It was very helpful to me to recognize that my perceptions of what I was doing was not perceived the way I thought it was.”

“I can only promise you that I will continue to do all that I can to deliver justice and an experience in my courtroom where people feel they have been well served by me and their community,” she said.

Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1) cited his concerns about low scores for patience and courtesy. He said it was important for judges to make people feel welcome and comfortable in the courtroom.

“My granddad used to say, ‘it doesn’t cost anything to be nice.’ That’s my advice that I’m going to leave with you,” Kilgore said.

Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-33), the only member of the Loudoun delegation with a seat on the House or Senate committees overseeing the courts, said she had experienced nothing but professional and positive interactions with Irby and looked forward to helping her in her next term.

Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-34) said he had appeared in cases in Irby’s courtroom and had no reservations.

Rachel Robinson, president of the Loudoun County Bar Association, said she was shocked and surprised the see Irby’s name removed from the nomination list. No formal action is planned by the association at this time, she said, although individual attorneys are reaching out to share their views with legislators.

In the event Irby is not reappointed, Robinson said she expected there would be a separate nomination process to fill the open seat and that the local Bar would have the opportunity to vet candidates for the seat. 

6 thoughts on “Delegates May Block Reelection of Loudoun Judge

  • 2022-02-02 at 4:19 pm
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    Thrilled that Stephen Sincavage will remain – I had a case in front of him. He went absolutely by. the. book. Perfection. I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome for myself personally, yet I give him great accolades for being an honest and reputable judge! He’s precisely what a judge /should/ be (and again, I didn’t ‘get my way’)…so that says a lot. I really have a lot of respect for him.

    Perhaps Irby should take some time off, take her constructive criticism to heart, and sit in on some of Hon. Sincavage’s cases.

  • 2022-02-02 at 6:53 pm
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    She is highly thought of in our house Creigh Deeds not so much!

  • 2022-02-02 at 7:49 pm
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    This is a surprise and not a surprise at the same time. I’m not surprised of the low scores that she receive in fairness and impartiality considering her repeated delays in recusing herself in the recall case.

    However, for a Judge to receive low scores from the attorneys that appear before her in courtesy and respect speaks volumes.

    Finally for someone who has been on the bench since 2014 to claim it takes time to adjust is laughable. If she was appoint post 2019 perhaps but she’s had SEVEN (7) years to adjust.

  • 2022-02-04 at 6:58 am
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    Who are the attorneys who gave her a low score, Charlie King and Philip Thompson?
    How many complaints, and were they all from losing attorneys?
    Poison people who smile, laugh and stab you in the back like our Buta have how many complaints?
    Look at the cast Deeds, Buta, Michelle, Charlie, Philip and the woke mobs compare that to Judge Irby and give me blunt law versus flowery lies!
    I have been in Judge Irby’s courtroom and there is no issue with the results just her style, this must be a joke.

    • 2022-02-04 at 11:39 am
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      You are the first person I have met who has not felt Irby should be nowhere near the bench. Irby ignored the law. In my FOUA case, I had a claim that LCPS be er provides teacher salary data. No evidence was provided by LCPS to dispute the request or lack of response. Irby just refused to rule on it. This is but one of many.

      Lawyers who practice before her hate it. They even know they can manipulate her to hammer the other side unfairly and then have to debate whether to represent their clients to the full extent or back off so Irby’s crazy doesn’t lead to a horrific decision.

      She attended the same law school as Trump’s former personal attorney which literally had the worst rankings in the US. If she tried to learn and coupled that with respect, maybe one could argue she should stay. Note that “respect” for a judge is critical. It has nothing to do with avoiding feeling insulted but rather representing your client. When Irby threatens to sanction the attorney and client simple for getting objections on the record or pointing out her ruling is not based on law, the attorney has to decide risking personal sanctions (and potentially further biasing Irby against their client) or pushing back.

      Irby is not the only one with issues. Many simply are not cut out for being a judge. Judges MUST be willing to explain their rulings, put their feelings aside in cases, and allow attorneys to fully explore potential appeals. Judges who resent being appealed are not remotely qualified. Judges who use their personal preferences and anecdotes to make rulings are not remotely qualified. Judge Cahill was a good judge. I am not sure how many like him are left here.

  • 2022-02-14 at 1:47 pm
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    Judge Irby is HORRIBLE and got what she deserved. She should be nowhere near the bench!!! All you have to do is Google some of her cases and you’ll quickly realize the many lives she’s destroyed due to her incompetence. For me personally, I’m a high-ranking gov’t official who’s ex ran off with a 31 count felon and moved almost 2 hours away without notifying me prior (we have joint custody). She then was in an accident where my 8 year old was injured and not in a booster seat or seatbelt. Judge Irby not only scolded me for taking my ex to court to gain custody of my 8 year old, she made me pay her attorney fees!!! When Irby read her final judgement, she didn’t even have my kid’s name or age correct. She literally claimed that “A 17 year old will do many things that a parent can’t control”. Huh? Who the F has a 17 year old in this case????? Irby is a detriment to our legal system. Guess what? I have full custody of my child today…no thanks to this idiot!

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