Virginia Supreme Court Appoints Special Masters for Redistricting

The Virginia Supreme Court has selected Republican nominee Sean Trende and Democratic nominee Bernard Grofman to be the two Special Masters who will work together to draw legislative and congressional map proposals for the court. Due to deep partisan splits, the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to submit any maps by constitutionally-required deadlines, leaving the task to the Court.

In the order issued Friday, the Court wrote, “Though each was nominated by legislative leaders of a particular political party, the nominees — upon being appointed by this Court as Special Masters — shall serve as officers of the Court in a quasi-judicial capacity. Consequently, the Special Masters shall be neutral and shall not act as advocates or representatives of any political party. By accepting their appointment, the Special Masters warrant that they have no ‘conflicts of interest,’ Code § 30-399(F), that preclude them from prudently exercising independent judgment, dispassionately following the Court’s instructions, or objectively applying the governing decision-making criteria.”

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Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales Joins Political Organization to Defund the Police and Shrink the Justice System

Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales is on the steering committee of “Our Black Party,” a political organization to defund the police. Morales has stated explicitly that she wants to defund the police and shrink the criminal justice system.
The Code of Virginia states that Commonwealth’s Attorneys are “a part of the department of law enforcement of the county or city in which [s]he is elected or appointed.” It is unclear whether Morales’s leadership within Our Black Party conflicts with her duties as a Commonwealth attorney.

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