Judge resigns after arrests

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND — A judge who found himself on the wrong side of the law twice in 2008 resigned at the end of the year.

Michael Keith Blankenship had been serving as a juvenile and domestic relations court judge in the 27th Judicial District — which includes Carroll, Grayson and Galax — when he was charged with misdemeanor crimes after two separate motor vehicle incidents last year.

Blankenship, of Wytheville, was charged March 1, 2008, with driving under the influence by Virginia State Police in Smyth County, after policed received a report to be on the lookout for a Subaru being driven erratically on Interstate 81.

He appeared in a Smyth County court to plead guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving and refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test. As a result, he was fined $100 and his drivers license was suspended for a year.

State police charged Blankenship with hit and run after an April 27, 2008, incident in Powhatan County.

Blankenship was charged after witnesses described the driver in question to state police troopers.

A Subaru Forester had run off the side of a road and hit a telephone line box. The vehicle continued into an adjacent yard before crossing the road again and hitting an embankment.

Officials with the Supreme Court of Virginia confirmed Blankenship's resignation, effective Dec. 31, 2008.

The resignation on file did not elaborate on Blankenship's reason for leaving.

But, the resignation did come just as Del. Bill Carrico (R-Fries) made plans to submit House Bill 1753, dealing with judges' terms, to the General Assembly for approval.

A summery of the bill, titled "Felonies or misdemeanors by judges; terms of office,” provides that “if a full-time district court judge is convicted of a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor during his term of office, such term shall expire 30 days after the commencement of the next regular session of the General Assembly notwithstanding the term for which such judge was elected.”

HB 1753 has been submitted and sent to the House Committee for Courts of Justice for consideration.