RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Legislation to restrict judges’ authority to defer convictions has died in the General Assembly.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 11-3 Friday to reject a bill authored by Del. Ben Cline (R-24th District), which was prompted by a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that judges have broad authority to delay disposition of a case. Judges sometimes use that authority to give first-time offenders a second chance if they stay out of trouble.
Some lawmakers complained that the ruling undermines their authority to write laws that judges are required to apply. The backlash was especially strong in the House of Delegates, where legislators have grilled judges who are up for re-election about whether they have used their authority under the court’s ruling to delay cases.
Opponents of Cline’s bill said legislators should not erode judges’ discretion.
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