WOODSTOCK – The community came out in force Thursday to honor Judge Dennis L. Hupp for his 26 years on the bench.
Judge Bruce D. Albertson, chief judge of Virginia’s 26th Judicial Circuit, presided over a special session held in the Shenandoah County Circuit Court to commemorate Hupp’s retirement that took effect Aug. 1. Other judges from the circuit flanked Albertson for the official session, the transcript of which he entered in the court record.
Family and friends, current and former defense attorneys and prosecutors, court clerks and deputy clerks, judges and law enforcement representatives filled the courtroom to capacity. Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter served as bailiff for the session.
Attorney and state Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, presented a flag to Hupp that the Capitol Police flew over the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond in the judge’s honor on his last official day on the bench. Gilbert called Hupp’s retirement both a happy and sad occasion. Gilbert recalled one of his first interactions with Hupp in the political arena occurred when the judge introduced him to Chuck Robb, a Democrat, at a luncheon.
“All I know is I don’t remember a thing that was said at that luncheon, but I do know that it had the opposite of the intended effect,” Gilbert, a Republican, recalled.
Gilbert called Hupp a gracious Virginia gentleman and said he always enjoyed practicing before the judge.
The Resolution Committee of the Shenandoah County Bar Association prepared a resolution honoring Hupp. Committee Chairman William B. Allen III read the resolution that the court later adopted and Albertson entered into the official record of the session.
The resolution states that “Judge Hupp has from the beginning of his judgeship showed to all those who appear before him respect and an open-mindedness. He provided a forum where our citizens could be heard without prejudice or bias. His decisions were well reasoned and articulated such that the litigants understood why they were successful or not. He showed a judicial temperament that commanded respect. He was dedicated to the rule of law and its fair administration through the Courts. While respectful of the lawyers that appeared before him, he required of us the same standard of excellence that he exhibited as a trial lawyer. At the same time, he did not forget what it was like to practice law. In short, he consistently exhibited those qualities that define a good trial judge.”
The resolution went on to state how out-of-town attorneys in his court would question the judge’s decisions, saying that’s not how they do it in Northern Virginia, only to hear Hupp reply: “We’re not in Northern Virginia.”
Judge Thomas J. Wilson IV made some remarks about his colleague, noting he always made himself available to talk about judges’ concerns and cases before the court.
“We were all grateful for that and he had tremendous experience and acumen and acuity and thank you for what you’ve done for the other judges,” Wilson said.
Retired Judge William H. Logan Jr. also spoke a few words about Hupp. Logan lost to Hupp in the race for commonwealth’s attorney in 1984.
“When I think of Dennis, I think of the number of long days that I’d drive by the courthouse and I’d see the lights on in this courtroom … Dennis had been in there holding court,” Logan recalled. “Not only did he have this county but he had Warren County, too, and want to tell you something, pardon my French, but they worked the hell out of Dennis and he was no shirker for his responsibility.
“He had a strong work ethic,” Logan added. “He was dedicated to his job and he was a friend.”
“Not only has he been a strong advocate of the law, he always dispensed his justice with courtesy and respect and dignity,” Logan said. “He’s been a great servant to the state of Virginia. He’ll be missed.”
Albertson told the crowd that Hupp would also remain available as a substitute judge in the circuit.
Hupp’s children, David and Miley, unveiled a portrait of the retired judge at the end of the session. Hupp then provided some comments.
“I am overwhelmed to see so many people here and so many faces of people that I hold in such high regard who have played such important roles in my life – you mean so much to me,” Hupp told the crowd.
Hupp thanked Gilbert for the flag.
“I’ll treasure this,” Hupp said.
Hupp commented that Gilbert’s “heartwarming” comments came from a “political adversary” and that he wished more people involved in politics would behave the same way.
The judge said he felt fortunate to be part of a strong family that includes his wife of 31 years, Donna, who stood by him through good times and bad and put up with the demands of the job.
“She’s held supper many evenings and I would call her when we’d finished and say ‘I’m just now leaving’ and she tells me she’s gonna have that put on my tombstone,” Hupp said. “David and Miley have been a constant joy in my life since the time they’ve been in the world.”
Hupp also thanked his extended family as well as his secretary of 25 years, Linda Sherman, court clerks past and present, Sheriff’s Office bailiffs and his fellow judges.
Albertson adjourned the session and invited the audience to a reception held at the Woodstock Brew House.
Benchmarks and biographical information noted in the resolution:
- Grew up on East Queen Street, the youngest of seven children to David Lee Hupp and Lucy Riddle Hupp
- Attended Shenandoah County public schools, graduating from Strasburg High School in 1969
- Attended James Madison University and received his bachelor of arts in 1973
- Worked at the Strasburg Safeway store in high school and college
- Moved to Birmingham, Alabama and attended the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University where he earned his juris doctor degree in 1977
- Passed his Virginia Bar exam June 6, 1977 and began a law practice, starting a firm with Perry W. Sarver that continued until 1983 when the General Assembly elected Sarver to serve as a judge in the circuit
- Elected Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1984
- Made an unsuccessful bid to fill state Sen. William A. Truban’s seat
- Elected by the General Assembly in 1992 to serve the 26th Judicial Circuit covering the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren and the cities of Winchester and Harrisonburg
- Tenure on the bench began Aug. 1, 1992; served as chief judge from 2003 to 2005; member of the Circuit Court Forms Committee, 2002-2014; 10 years on the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission; the Bench Book Committee from 2014-2017; Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of Virginia representing Region 6, from 2016 to June 2018