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December 6, 2018

Prosecutor Fisher seeks circuit court judgeship

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
James P. Fisher, the Fauquier commonwealth’s attorney since 2011, has 30 years of experience.
I’m honored that the General Assembly has asked me to visit the court committees . . . . to be interviewed for a circuit court judgeship in the 20th circuit.
— James P. Fisher
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier’s chief prosecutor hopes to win appointment to a circuit court judgeship early next year.

State legislators will interview Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher for the 20th Judicial Circuit position Friday in Richmond. Members of the Virginia House and Senate Courts of Justice committees will question Mr. Fisher in a joint session at 9 a.m.

Those committees deem whether candidates qualify for the positions. The full General Assembly will elect judges during the 45-day legislative session that begins Jan. 9.

No other candidate will interview Friday for the 20th Circuit position, vacant since Jan. 1, 2017, when Judge Burke McCahill retired, according to Shannon Heard, a Virginia Division of Legislative Services staff member.

But that doesn’t preclude the committees from considering additional candidates, Ms. Heard explained.

Her office received notice that Mr. Fisher would be interviewed Nov. 27 from Sen. Mark D. Obeshain (R-Harrisonburg), chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

The 20th District includes Fauquier, Rappahannock and Loudoun counties. If the General Assembly ultimately elects him, Mr. Fisher would preside in Loudoun. His appointment would take effect July 1.

One of the district’s four judges, Jeffrey W. Parker predominantly hears cases here and in Rappahannock.

Circuit court judges earn $171,120 per year.

“I’m honored that the General Assembly has asked me to visit the court committees on Friday in order to be interviewed for a circuit court judgeship in the 20th circuit,” Mr. Fisher, 56, wrote Thursday in an email.

“My read of Virginia’s automatic succession statute would make (Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney) Chuck Peters the acting” commonwealth’s attorney “from July 1 forward,” said Mr. Fisher, who lives near The Plains.

Mr. Peters “would be exceptionally well-qualified to serve and would continue to build on the solid foundation my office has established,” he added.

Fauquier voters will elect a chief prosecutor to a four-year term next November.

He will “temporarily suspend” his commonwealth’s attorney re-election campaign “for a brief period, until the General Assembly has an opportunity to act,” Mr. Fisher said. “In the absence of an appointment, I will resume robust campaign efforts in the new year.”

A Republican, Mr. Fisher would seek his third term as Fauquier’s chief prosecutor, overseeing a staff of 16 and a $1.48-million annual budget.

The 20th Circuit judges appointed him in June 2011 to succeed Commonwealth’s Attorney Jonathan Lynn, whom the General Assembly elected to the juvenile and domestic relations court bench. Mr. Fisher won election that November and re-election in 2015 — both times without opposition.

Mr. Fisher previously worked 10 years in private practice and 20 years as an assistant prosecutor in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

In August, Christopher B. Morehouse, who works as an assistant prosecutor in Culpeper, announced plans to seek the Republican nomination for commonwealth’s attorney. The Fauquier County Republican Committee in the spring will decide how to select its nominees for the November 2019 ballot.

After nearly 30 years with the Fairfax County Police Department, Mr. Peters, who lives near Markham, joined the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office in 2010.

Two years later, Mr. Fisher hired him as a senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Fauquier.

Mr. Peters has a law degree and a master’s in business administration from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Tulane University.

Contact Don Del Rosso at or 540-270-0300.
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Rover 530 · December 11, 2018 at 9:38 pm
Agreed. Fisher is a self-serving climber. If this gets him out of Fauquier, great news. Hopefully the Democratic Committee in Fauquier will recruit a qualified candidate to take his place.
martinwilliams81 · December 7, 2018 at 2:55 pm
I think this would be a bad decision.

Jim has repeatedly only looked out for himself. When he was appointed as Commonwealth Attorney in 2011 he made a fuss to the supervisors that he was not getting paid the same amount that his predecessor was making. As a result he worked behind the scenes to try and get Holder Trumbo defeated.

Jim has also shown that he has been unable to work with Sheriff Mosier well, to the extent that he went out and recruited Chris Cochrane to run against Bob because Bob won't kowtow what Jim wants. Jim also recruited Whit Robinson, who dropped out and then recruited John Cheatwood to run agains t Gail Barb because he absolutely hates her.

Jim has also influenced the local GOP with a heavy hand, recruiting candidates for chairman behind the scenes and has repeatedly played the Country Club Republicans agains the Tea Party Republicans for his own personal purposes.

I think the 20th Circuit can do better than James Fisher.
jojo · December 7, 2018 at 11:16 am
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