In brief: Here come the judges, more candidates, another A12-related lawsuit and more

Matt Quatrara will take over the ever-busy Charlottesville General District Court when Judge Bob Downer retires in a few months.
submitted photo Matt Quatrara will take over the ever-busy Charlottesville General District Court when Judge Bob Downer retires in a few months. submitted photo

New kids on the bench

The General Assembly appointed four new judges for the 16th Circuit, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle, and two are for new positions to handle swelling caseloads.

Juvenile and domestic relations court Judge Claude Worrell, 55, will move up to circuit court. Before his appointment in 2013, Worrell was a deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Charlottesville for 20 years, and prosecuted high-profile cases like William Beebe, the 12-step rapist. Worrell will serve an eight-year term.

Gil Berger, 60, a criminal defense attorney who lives in Orange, will take Worrell’s seat in juvenile court. Berger took on law later in life and graduated from Regent University in 2000. He says he’s “exuberant” about the appointment, and that while juvenile court is not the most sought-after court, it’s the “most intense” because it involves people and families.

Albemarle Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Darby Lowe, 52, will take a new juvenile and domestic relations court seat. During her 25 years as a prosecutor, Lowe focused on the type of cases she’ll now hear as a judge, and in 2017 she won the Virginia S. “Ginny” Duvall award for distinguished juvenile prosecutor. Lowe got a conviction for the I-64 teen shooter in 2008, but had less success with the notorious 2006 “smoke-bomb” cases in which four teens were prosecuted for allegedly plotting to blow up high schools—and one was acquitted.

Lenhart Pettit attorney Matt Quatrara, 46, is also a former Albemarle and Charlottesville prosecutor. He’s taking the seat of retiring Charlottesville General District Court Judge Bob Downer. Quatrara also served as a federal prosecutor and worked for McGuireWoods. Before returning to private practice, Quatrara prosecuted two well-known locals—including deceased journalist Donovan Webster—for involuntary manslaughter from drunk driving.

Berger, Lowe, and Quatrara will serve six-year terms.

Quote of the week

“Human beings since their creation have not been stopped by any wall.”
Maria Chavalan Sut, a Guatemalan refugee taking sanctuary in Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, on the president’s declared national emergency

In brief

She’s back

Amy Laufer, a former City Council hopeful who was narrowly beat out by Nikuyah Walker and Heather Hill in 2017, stepped down from her position on the Charlottesville School Board in January and has announced a run for the General Assembly. The Democrat hopes to unseat Republican Senator Bryce Reeves in the 17th District, which includes parts of eastern Albemarle.

Eze Amos photo

He’s back, too

Former City Councilor Bob Fenwick, who served from 2014 to 2017 (when he was ousted by Amy Laufer and Heather Hill in the Democratic primary), will run again as a Democrat. He also ran two unsuccessful campaigns as an independent during the 2009 and 2011 elections.

Search and seizure

Janis Jaquith photo

When police had the Downtown Mall on lockdown over the August 12 anniversary weekend, John Miska was arrested for purchasing banned items—razor blades, Arizona iced tea, and bug spray—from CVS. The cops weren’t worried about the two pistols strapped to him. The Rutherford Institute, on behalf of Miska, says the arrest violated Miska’s Fourth and 14th amendment rights, and filed a federal lawsuit February 13.

Opponent arises

Patrick Estes, a former NFL offensive lineman, wants to be the new sheriff in town. Submitted photo

Former Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Patrick Estes has tossed his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination for Albemarle County sheriff. The UVA alum, who serves as regional director for RMC Events, has also worked for Homeland Security and been a field training officer and a narcotics and special events detective. He’ll challenge Chief Deputy Chan Bryant, who already has Sheriff Chip Harding’s endorsement.

10,992 felons…

Can now vote, thanks to Governor Ralph Northam. Since he took office a little over a year ago, his administration has restored the civil rights of nearly 11,000 previously convicted Virginians, who may also now run for public office, serve on a jury, or become a notary public. Says Northam, “I believe in second chances.”

Walk in these shoes

The Salvation Army is holding its 29th shoe drive February 23 and will distribute gently used shoes, which can be dropped off at the Salvation Army gym on Ridge Street. Past drives have collected over 100,000 pairs of footwear.



Oh, dear: City’s culling program ramps back up

Getty Images

It’s not a good time to be a four-legged woodland creature in Charlottesville. After what the city is calling a successful culling initiative last year, where sharpshooters took out 125 deer accused of creating hazardous driving conditions, Lyme disease-related health concerns, and wreaking havoc on local landscapes, the hunters are gearing up to do it again.

The same number of deer have been targeted this year, and are only being hunted in city parks during nighttime hours. “The operation,” as city officials call it, is “carefully coordinated” with the Emergency Communications Center and the Charlottesville Police Department. It started February 18 and is expected to continue into March.

Here are the results from the 2018 program:

  • 125 deer killed on nine city-owned properties
  • 11 nights of hunting
  • 2,850 pounds of deer meat donated to Loaves & Fishes
  • 0 albino or white deer shot

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