The region’s law community can expect to see familiar people at judges’ benches in the coming months.
The Virginia General Assembly approved resolutions at their session earlier this year to move judges from lower to higher court positions and to fill bench vacancies in the 26th Judicial Circuit with attorneys. In most cases, the General Assembly appointed Republicans to fill judgeships in the circuit that covers the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren as well as the cities of Harrisonburg and Winchester.
Appointments take effect throughout the next few months and, in some cases, create vacancies in other government offices.
Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden steps down from his constitutional office to take a seat as a circuit court judge in the circuit. As a result of his appointment to a judgeship, Madden will not seek another term as the county’s chief prosecutor.
“I’m honored and humbled by the selection by the General Assembly,” Madden said in a phone interview. “Well, it will be definitely a new adventure.”
Madden’s first eight-year term begins Sept. 1 and he initially will sit for Frederick County Circuit Court, he said.
Madden, 63, served in U.S. Navy, both active duty and as reservist, before retiring from the armed service. He spent 12 years as a lawyer in private practice and then voters elected him as the commonwealth’s attorney in 2003. He took office in 2004.
The General Assembly elected Daryl Funk clerk of the Warren County Circuit Court, to serve as a judge for the juvenile and domestic relations court. Funk begins his six-year term July 1.
“Well, it’s certainly a tremendous honor and I’m very excited about the opportunity and I really appreciate the General Assembly’s confidence in electing me to the judgeship and I guess I really can’t say a whole lot more than that just because, you know, all the judicial canons and ethics and all that,” Funk said in a phone interview.
Funk said he couldn’t comment when asked if he thought it unusual to move from a circuit court clerk post to a judgeship this early in his career. Funk, 37, has served not quite half of his first eight-year term as elected clerk of the Warren County Circuit Court since Jan. 1, 2016. He ran as the Republican Party candidate to replace Jennifer Sims. Prior to his election to the constitutional office, Funk served as a member of the Front Royal Town Council from 2012 to 2015. He also ran a private law practice before taking over the circuit court post. Funk holds degrees from Bridgewater College and the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Funk and Madden resigned as members of the Warren County Republican Committee upon their appointments to the judgeships.
Shenandoah County resident Chad Logan takes a seat as a judge for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. His six-year term begins July 1.
“I just note that it’s an honor to be chosen,” Logan said in a phone interview. “I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity to serve our community.”
Logan, 34, of Quicksburg, practices law with Woodstock firm Logan & Logan. Prior to starting his private practice, Logan served for six years as an assistant prosecutor for Marsha Garst, commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham County and Harrisonburg. Logan ran as the Republican Party candidate four years ago in an attempt to unseat Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley. Logan holds degrees from the University of Virginia and its law school.
Logan’s father William H. “Billy” Logan Jr. recently retired as a juvenile and domestic relations court judge for the district.
Local bar associations received requests and resumes from people in the law community who wanted to fill a judgeship and then made endorsements to the General Assembly, Logan explained. The Shenandoah County Bar Association endorsed Logan’s request for consideration, he said, adding that General Assembly members interview candidates and decided on their appointments.
Del. Todd Gilbert and state Sen. Mark Obenshain, both Republicans representing parts of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, announced in mid-February the General Assembly’s appointments to judgeships in the judicial circuit.
The chief judge consults with other jurists in the 26th Judicial Circuit to determine in which court each person appointed to a seat serves, Logan explained.
Among other changes in the region, the General Assembly appointed Circuit Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. to a position on the Virginia Court of Appeals. Athey replaces Judge Teresa M. Chafin, who the General Assembly elevated to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Athey begins his eight-year term Sept. 1. He previously represented Warren, Frederick and Fauquier counties as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates as a Republican. Prior to his time in the state office, Athey served as a member of the Front Royal Town Council and mayor.
The General Assembly also elevated longtime Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge William W. Sharp to a circuit court post. Sharp began his six-year term Feb. 1. Sharp practiced law and served as a substitute judge prior to his 25 years of service in his current role. He holds degrees from Yale University and the Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.
Legislators elected Rachel E. Figura to serve as a juvenile and domestic relations court judge. She begins her six-year term May 1. Figura has worked for more than 10 years as an assistant county attorney for Rockingham County. Figura represents the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Social Services District in trials and administrative hearings for adult protective services, child protective services and foster care. She previously worked for three years as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham County. Figura holds degrees from the University of Georgia and the New Englan School of Law.
Current annual salaries for judges are as follows:
• $154,017 in juvenile and domestic relations courts
• $154,017 in general district courts
• $171,120 in circuit courts
• $175,110 in the court of appeals ($178,110 for the chief judge)
• $184,327 for associate judges and $196,517 for the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia