When the nieces and nephews of the Honorable Jack S. “Chip” Hurley Jr., judge of the 29th judicial Circuit Court, led the Pledge of Allegiance, Hurley looked over his left shoulder and smiled. The overflow crowd of more than 182 people who packed the inside and hallway beyond the doors of the Tazewell County Circuit Court room recited the pledge in an incredible, nearly absolute unison.
“We’re glad you came,” the Honorable Henry A. Vanover, chief judge of the 29th Judicial Circuit said. He made the observation that Tazewell County has been without a sitting circuit court judge, and said he was happy to “welcome a new brother” to the court.
“May it please the court,” State Delegate Joseph P. Johnson Jr., D-Washington, said before officially presenting the commission as judge to Hurley. “I can’t think of a better occasion. I have visited Judge Hurley’s court before. He has a well-run court.”
State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, joined Johnson in presenting the commission to Hurley. “Let the record show that I’ve never been in Judge Hurley’s court,” Puckett said of Hurley who previously served as General District Court judge. “Chip’s one of those guys who knows how to treat people. The Southwest delegation (in the Virginia General Assembly) is a group that has been very supportive of Chip.”
The Honorable Teresa M. Chafin, judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, conducted the investiture. She said that she was blessed to have served in Tazewell County. “My prayer for you is that you enjoy serving this county as much as I did.”
Hurley’s pastor, Jonathan Rockness, of Westminister Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation and benediction, while Hurley’s family members served in several capacities along with being guests. In addition to his nieces and nephews leading the pledge, Hurley’s wife, Julie, held the Bible during the investiture and his daughter and son, Hannah Hurley and Chandler Hurley, presented the robe to their father.
“Whew,” Hurley said as he came to the podium. “I want to thank everybody for being here.” He expressed thanks to retired Circuit Court Judge Don Mullins, Judge Chafin and all the other members of the bench who attended. He thanked the 27 clerks he served with in General District Court, asking them to stand and be recognized. He also thanked Circuit Court Clerk James E. “Buddy” Blevins. “I treasure your friendship,” he said.
“And to the bar,” Hurley said. “I am confident that at least half of you will be pleased by my decisions while the other half will not.”
Hurley also expressed his thanks to his family: “The backbone and strength of my life,” he said. He said that he was honored to walk with his family name, with his faith and with his savior. “My father passed away a year ago,” he said during a highly emotional moment. “He would certainly have loved this.” He also said that his mother-in-law, who recently passed away, would have also loved to share the moment.
“I will miss the General District Court,” Hurley said of the court where he could preside over as many as 500-600 cases per day. “The stories you see there ... you couldn’t make them up.”
He also expressed his thanks to his wife. “My better two-thirds,” he said. “I out-kicked my coverage when I married Julie,” he said, using a football reference to illustrate his point.
“It’s historic to be here,” he said. “I cannot help but be very humbled. We are stewards. We are trustees of the administration of justice,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to be here.”
A reception followed the ceremony.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com