The Judiciary Article has undergone significant changes through the years in regard to the structure of the court system and the selection, tenure, and removal of judges. Regarding the structure of the court system, the Judiciary Article has at various times contained significant details about various courts, including several that are no longer in existence. Thus the 1776 Constitution provided for a General Court, in addition to a Supreme Court of Appeals and several other courts. However, the General Court was not mentioned in the Constitutions of 1830 or 1851, and was abolished by statute in 1852. Meanwhile, county courts were mentioned in the 1776 Constitution and each subsequent constitution, until the 1902 Constitution finally deprived them of constitutional status. Other courts have also been mentioned in various constitutions, including circuit courts, which are still in existence. However, the 1971 Constitution removed any mention of inferior courts, providing simply for a Supreme Court (which until that time had been titled the Supreme Court of Appeals) and any other courts that the General Assembly might choose to establish.
Various changes have also been made in regard to the selection, tenure, and removal of judges. The method of judicial selection has developed in a cyclical fashion. Judicial selection was originally the province of the General Assembly. However, the 1851 Constitution provided for popular election of circuit court and Supreme Court of Appeals judges (with the five Supreme Court of Appeals judges to be elected by voters in each of five sections of the state), and the 1864 Constitution provided for selection of judges by the General Assembly from candidates nominated by the Governor. The 1870 Constitution then returned full control of judicial selection to the General Assembly, and this arrangement has been retained in the current Constitution, making Virginia one of only two states that still select both trial and appellate judges in this fashion.
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Publication information: Book title: The Virginia State Constitution: A Reference Guide. Contributors: John Dinan - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 137.
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