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With Judge Emory Widener, 84, set to take senior status, Virginia’s bar associations are mulling over their recommendations for the second open Virginia seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. But so far Northern Virginia, with roughly one-third of the state’s population, hasn’t produced many candidates. The Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys had already endorsed eight lawyers for an unfilled vacancy left by J. Michael Luttig last spring, but none of them are from Northern Virginia. With Widener now set to step aside, five new candidates have asked to be added to the list of those endorsed by the association and recommended to Virginia Sens. John Warner (R) and James Webb (D). Of those new potential nominees, just one, Hogan & Hartson partner H. Christopher Bartolomucci, hails from the D.C. area. Bartolomucci will be competing for the nominations with two Virginia Supreme Court justices, two judges from the state’s court of appeals, and a pair of U.S. district judges based in Roanoke and Norfolk. While Bartolomucci may be far removed from the state’s political power base in Richmond, he’s well connected in Washington. Before returning to Hogan, Bartolomucci spent two years as an associate White House counsel. And as a Hogan associate in the 1990s, Bartolomucci worked under now-Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. — then a Hogan partner. But as Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, notes, the support of a state’s bar associations doesn’t in and of itself guarantee a judicial nomination. Former White House official Claude Allen received a nomination (later withdrawn after Allen was arrested for shoplifting) to a Maryland seat on the 4th Circuit without the endorsement of that state’s bar.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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