Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tainted Judge or Tainted Accusers?

The Roanoke Times carried an editorial on Feb. 24 which implies Marcus H. Long Jr. "bought" his recent election to Judge of Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of the New River Valley by contributing to the campaigns of Delegate Dave Nutter and Senator Brandon Bell. Given the Times' proclivity to attack Republicans (which both Nutter and Bell are), most readers would have undoubtedly given the accusation the attention it deserved.

On Tuesday, however, local Blacksburg attorney Harriett Dorsey weighed in to support the charges that Long's election carried "the taint of backroom politics." Ms. Dorsey goes on to compare Democratic judge appointment procedures as superior to Republican appointment procedures and further charges gender bias in the selection process.

While the machinations of judge appointment are unknown to the Salt Lick, he nevertheless has some questions about Ms. Dorsey's impartiality in this dispute. You see, over ten years ago Ms. Dorsey handled the closing on Salt Lick's home. It was probably one of the most unprofessional performances by an attorney Salt Lick has ever witnessed. In the first draft of the deed, Ms. Dorsey even incorrectly described the property being purchased by Salt Lick. The property description is, of course, pretty basic to a deed. When Salt Lick mentioned this to an attorney friend, she said something like, "Oh, Harriet is more concerned these days with trying to become a judge than doing her work."

Hmmmm. So even ten years ago Ms. Dorsey was angling to become a judge? And she's still not a judge? Isn't her arguing in this case what one might call "a conflict of interest?" Or maybe at least an "undisclosed interest?"

Salt Lick doesn't know. He's just asking, like the Roanoke Times. One thing Salt Lick does know however -- it will take a lot more than the reporting of a highly partisan, pro-Democratic newspaper and a disgruntled, seemingly lackadaisical attorney to convince him of any impropriety in Judge Long's election.