Averett University Alumnus GOP’s Pick for High Court

Posted on August 5th, 2015 by Emily Tomlinson

By Trevor Metcalfe Reporter for the Danville Register & Bee

General Assembly Republicans said Sunday they plan to reject an appointment to the Virginia Supreme Court by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and instead select an Averett University alumnus and member of the school’s Board of Trustees.

House Speaker Bill Howell and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said Sunday they plan to appoint Virginia Court of Appeals Justice Rossie Alston Jr. to the Virginia Supreme Court during the special session later this month.

Alston graduated from Averett in 1979. He has started serving his second term on Averett’s Board of Trustees; his first term was 1997-2005.

Fellow Board of Trustees member Rick Roccesano met Alston when the two attended Averett for undergraduate programs.

“Going to Averett, it’s a smaller environment, so you pretty much get to know [everyone] at school,” Roccesano said. “Rossie always seemed to be in the middle of the pack with everybody.”

Roccesano said Alston was well liked by the Averett campus of the 1970s, when students were learning how to live life away from home for the first time. Roccesano and Alston both ran track and were members of a fraternity.

“He was one of the guys who could cross the barriers and sort of be everybody’s friend,” he said.

As part of the board of trustees, Roccesano said Alston was able to use his background in law at the state level to help in board decisions and representing the campus.

“When different questions come up, he is one of the first guys to raise his hand and give comments,” Roccesano said.

He said Alston was ready to take on future challenges of a justice, whether he was appointed to the Virginia Supreme Court or not.

“If you’re even asked to be a part of that level, you have to have the goods to come to the table,” Roccesano said.

With the appointment, current justice Jane Roush would be dismissed from the position after beginning work last month.

Republican leaders cited McAuliffe’s failure to communicate with them about his selection in opting to overrule his choice of justice.

“The fault for that lies unequivocally and indisputably at McAuliffe’s feet,” Delegate Greg Habeeb, R- Salem, told The Associated Press.

Alston was elected to serve as a judge on Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Prince William County in 1998. He then moved up to be a circuit court judge in 2001 before joining the court of appeals in 2009.

Alston declined to comment on the story.

The General Assembly will decide the fate of the seat during a special session beginning Aug. 17 on redistricting.