Tracy Thorne-Begland, an openly gay prosecutor who was rejected by Virginia legislators for a trial court judgeship, has won strong support from leaders of Richmond’s five largest law firms for an interim appointment to the bench.
“We understand that the Court is considering appointing Tracy Thorne-Begland to the District Court for the City of Richmond,” the lawyers wrote in a letter to the presiding judge of the Richmond Circuit Court. “We believe he would be an outstanding jurist and support his appointment.”
The signers included a former president of the Virginia Bar Association and a former Virginia attorney general, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Republican Del. Robert G. Marshall, a leader of opposition to Thorne-Begland in the state House, was unmoved by the letter of support, according to a Washington Post article.
“This is the Republican establishment that can’t take a message,” Marshall said. “This is unbelievable arrogance. We went through this process, the House of Delegates said ‘no,’ we have the authority to do that, we found him wanting in judicial temperament. If they don’t like the outcome, they should run for delegate.”
During debate in May, conservatives contended Thorne-Begland’s support for same-sex marriage and his challenging the military’s now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy made him unsuitable for the judgeship (see Gavel Grab). A former fighter pilot, he was discharged honorably from the Navy.