Tackling some home-upkeep chores, maybe a little sailing, working on his 1940 Cadillac LaSalle, golfing. Jeffrey Parker could do any or all of those once he steps down from his job as judge of the 20th Circuit Court.
Parker is based in Warrenton and hears cases filed in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties. He will have served more than 18 years when he retires on Oct. 31. Judges serve eight-year terms and Parker is leaving before his current term is up. He turns 67 in March.
The Virginia General Assembly makes judicial appointments and will choose Parker’s successor.
“I announced it now so that the General Assembly has time to appoint a replacement. I hope when I walk out that a successor will step in. I think you need the stability of a full-time resident judge,” Parker said during an interview in his office Friday, Feb. 1.
The Virginia state legislature’s Joint Courts of Justice Committee will interview applicants for the position and recommend a replacement. Parker informed state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-26th, who heads the committee, and local state legislators by letter about his retirement decision last week.
The circuit court is the highest trial court in the Virginia court system, Parker explained.
“It’s the court of record. It handles jury trials, felonies, divorces,” he said. It also hears board of zoning appeals cases, civil cases involving claims seeking damages and appeals from general district court.
Because of its population size, Loudoun County has three --- and soon to be four -- circuit court judges. Fauquier Commonwealth’s Attorney James Fisher recently was appointed as the fourth circuit court judge for Loudoun.
Parker thinks judges in Virginia “breathe a collective sigh of relief they don’t have to go through what others have to go through to get elected” – raising money to finance a campaign.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why there is no, or little judicial corruption” in Virginia, he said.
Parker was an attorney in private practice before he sought appointment to the bench. He was born in Boise, Idaho (“I left after six months and haven’t been back,” he says), received an undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and a law degree from Washington and Lee University.
Parker said he didn’t enter college with the goal of being a lawyer. If there hadn’t been a recession, “it looked like I was on the fast track for a management position with Michigan Bell Telephone,” he said. The more he thought about it, the more he thought the law was the career path for him.
“I try to make the best decision I can, and I look forward,” not back, he said when asked if there were things he wished he would have done differently. “I’ve been lucky in some respects and unlucky in others.”
He and his wife, Lawrie, live in southern Fauquier County and have a son and two grandchildren living in Warrenton.
“I could be happy anywhere doing anything,” Parker said, “[but] I have no desire to leave.”
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com