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War story: Judge Doherty and the disappointed defendant

Roanoke County Circuit Judge Pat Doherty had them laughing at a recent VTLA 50th anniversary fete in the Star City.  In one story, Doherty recounted how – despite pleas for leniency from the defendant and her family – he gave some serious prison time to a woman with a record of 15 convictions for shoplifting.

A few days later, in the mail, he received a envelope from the defendant.  He noted the address on the outside was in proper form.  Opening the letter, the judge found a formal heading and salutation directed to him, followed by the words "You redneck son of a bitch."

Marveling at this pointed message, Doherty called to Virginia Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Koontz, who shares office space at the county courthouse.  "Take a look at this," Doherty said.

Koontz scanned the letter and handed it back to Doherty.  "Gee, Pat," he said.  "You’re not a redneck."

By Peter Vieth

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