House panel puts Thorne-Begland one step closer to judgeship - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

House panel puts Thorne-Begland one step closer to judgeship

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Tracy Thorne-Begland may sit on the bench in a full-time position, despite past criticism over his advocacy of gay rights.

A House panel voted in favor of Thorne-Begland and 8 others seeking a seat on the bench. The process now heads to the full House of Delegates, where Thorne-Begland was rebuked of a potential judgeship last year. Thorne-Begland's nomination was eventually defeated in the House in a late-night vote. He was later appointed to an interim judgeship in Richmond Manchester General District Court.

Several delegates argued last year that Thorne-Begland's denouncing of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in 1992 gave them concerns that he couldn't serve as an impartial judge. On Monday at the questioning, Thorne-Begland brought a copy of the military oath with him.

"I didn't violate my oath. I didn't violate Navy regulations and I never violated an order of my commanding officer," he said.

Some lawmakers wanted him to address issues with his activist history. Thorne-Begland acknowledged his role in favor of same sex rights, but said he has and will remove himself from it conflicting with work.

"I will well and dutifully follow the rule, the laws, and the regulations," he said.

The role of judge he says is one he hopes will continue.

"I know that when I put on the black robe, and even when I take the robe off and go home that I am held to a different standard then an everyday citizen," he said.

 Thorne-Begland was questioned for 45 minutes today by the House Justice Committee before the unanimous vote in favor of the group of candidates.

Many delegates did say they have gotten to know Thorne-Begland these past few months and will now support him.

Now, the vote will go before the full House of Delegates on Tuesday.  Thorne-Begland will need 51 votes  to officially be elected to the bench.

There are nine judges the delegates will vote on, they are all seeking full - six year terms.

Many former colleagues packed the room to show their support for Thorne-Begland to continue his time as a judge in Manchester General District Court.

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