[Posted October 1, 2013] Governor McDonnell has announced today that he has appointed Marla Graff Decker to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Court of Appeals Judge Larry Elder, effective today. Decker currently serves as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Public Safety, and is an alumna of the Attorney General’s Office, where she handled a large number of appeals on behalf of the Commonwealth and its agencies and officers.

This appointment returns the CAV to its full complement of eleven active judges. The Governor’s press release indicates that the court’s newest judge will take office next month. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the legislature in the session that begins in January.

There’s one other happy component to today’s announcement. The new judge will be the second on the court who actually handled a substantial number of appeals as a lawyer, following Judge Steve McCullough, who served as the Solicitor General of the Commonwealth before his elevation to the bench.

One final note: Since today is the first day of Judge Elder’s retirement, his name doesn’t appear on the court’s online listing of active judges. But neither does it appear on the list of senior judges; that list includes Judges Coleman, Annunziata, Bumgardner, Clements, and Haley. So what’s wrong with adding Judge Elder to that list, you ask? Why isn’t he just as qualified as the others?

Well, he is indeed qualified. But the court is now in the enviable position of having a full roster of senior judges. By statute, “Only five retired judges shall serve as senior judges at any one time.” No word on whether Judge Elder will step up when someone who’s already on the list steps aside; for now, he gets to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.