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No Objection to Judge Here

I read Chris Dovi's article "Under the Influence: After His DUI, Judge Is Hearing DUI Cases" (Street Talk, June 6) and felt compelled to respond to some inaccuracies I found amongst the murky innuendoes the article draws from its anonymous sources.

The article first states that Hanover County officials' question of whether it's a conflict of interest for Judge John Richard Alderman to hear DUI cases "will go unanswered." Then the article infers another conflict of interest from the bare fact that Judge Alderman recused himself from two cases in which Trip Chalkley, a candidate for commonwealth's attorney in Hanover County, appeared in his court.

First, for the record, it does not matter if Hanover County officials think a judge has a conflict of interest. As members of this state's judiciary branch, judges do not and should not answer to officials of the counties where they work and live. The separation of powers is one of the basic tenets of the constitution of Virginia. Also, a judge should recuse himself from a case where he finds he has a conflict of interest. Multiple readings of Mr. Dovi's article did not persuade me that Judge Alderman recused himself from any case only because of Mr. Chalkley's presence.

It's curious that nearly three years after the judge's conviction Mr. Dovi has taken up this matter with such interest. Is Mr. Dovi a watchdog for the public good, or is he forwarding a political agenda just a few weeks before the primary election is held in Hanover County for commonwealth's attorney?

Finally, the judge has spent roughly the last 30 years in public service to the citizens of this area. His rulings from the bench reflect common-sense Virginia values and a thorough knowledge of the law. I know that I am among the many that have benefited from his legal acumen and can attest to his integrity.

Louise Phelan

Editors' note: Trip Chalkley won the primary last week as a candidate for commonwealth's attorney in Hanover County.

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