February 22, 2007
The General Assembly has decided to make Cheryl Higgins the next Albemarle County Circuit Court judge. Higgins is a lawyer with a private practice in Charlottesville and a former Assistant Commonwealth's attorney.
She will replace retired Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross. Lawmakers say the House and Senate have come to an agreement and Higgins will be the next judge, but they won't make it completely official until a vote.
Higgins said she received a call early this morning with the news.
"[Delegate] Rob Bell and [delegate] Bill Janus called me and told me they wanted to be the first to call me ‘your honor’,” said Higgins.
And her phone hasn't stopped ringing since with many in the community congratulating her on her new position. A position her peers believe she is highly qualified to hold.
“She's always had a good reputation amongst her colleagues as being a person who is fair, very intelligent and a good jurist. I think she will make a fantastic judge,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s attorney Cynthia Murray
“I respect her. She has a good mind, no nonsense and I think she will bring not only intelligence but efficiency [to the bench],” said defense attorney Debbie Wyatt.
Higgins first reaction to the news..."I haven't had a chance to take it other than to be delighted that I was appointed and nervous about what I am going to be facing and a little overwhelmed with trying to end a practice start in the new position," she said.
Higgins believes her experience working as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney will help her to be fair and impartial. Seventy percent of the cases she will hear are for criminal felonies and deciding who does and doesn't go to jail gives her some pause for concern but she looks forward to the challenge.
“At the end of eight years I hope people will say she was fair and balanced and she had a wonderful demeanor while on the bench that was both polite and civil yet demanded respect in the court room. And that she knows the law and follows the laws written in Virginia."
Higgins was originally among eight candidates for the position. That number recently dwindled to three finalists including Albemarle Commonwealth's attorney Jim Camblos and Charlottesville Deputy Commonwealth's attorney Claude V. Worrell.