Virginia House of Delegates Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds won by one vote only to have that deciding vote thrown out due to a crossed out ballot bubble, and the win was classified as a tie. Now the judge who threw out her winning vote reportedly has a conflict of interest.
On Friday Newport News’ Daily Press reported that Circuit Court Judge Brant L. Sugg, one part of a three judge panel that decided against Simond’s one-vote win, has ties to her Republican opponent, David Yancey. Yancey is one of the lawmakers that helped Sugg acquire his chief judge in the Newport News Circuit Court back in 2015.
In 2014, Yancey said in an interview:
‘Bryant was a great candidate. He served the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission. His dad was a judge, so he had that experience growing up, which I feel gives him a unique perspective. We just felt he’s done a very good job as judge and that he was a good person to move up … to Circuit.’
Simonds made national news Wednesday after her single vote win. Later the win was overturned by a panel of three judges who found that the Democratic and Republican candidates were tied.
Quinton Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said, according to the Daily Press:
‘If I were Judge Sugg and thought there was going to be any concern at all, I probably would have recused myself knowing there is no shortage of judges that could have done this. Sometimes you just have to be overly cautious in situations like this because the stakes in terms of public confidence in the process are too high.’
— Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) December 21, 2017
William and Mary professor and co-director of the colleges’ Election Law Program, Rebecca Green, says that the lack of impartiality isn’t all that uncommon in small communities, adding:
‘When — especially in an election context — a panel is skewed one way or the other, the public perception of fairness might be different from that of the judges when they adjudicate the matter.’
You can watch an interview with the VA Delegate candidate Shelly Simonds, courtesy of MSNBC, in the video below:
Below are some of the top Twitter reactions to this new twist:
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