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Smith becomes Eastern District chief judge

Norfolk U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith this week assumed the duties of chief judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, becoming the first woman judge in that position and the first Norfolk-based judge to serve as chief in 26 years.

A native of Hopewell, Smith was appointed to the district court bench in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, a masters from the University of Virginia and graduated first in her law school class at William and Mary.

Smith previously had a private law practice and then served as a federal magistrate judge from 1985 to 1989.

Smith’s term became effective Dec. 4.

Chief judges for the U.S. district courts assume the position based on seniority, according to the administrative office of the U.S. Courts. The chief judge is the judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are (1) 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a judge; and (3) have not previously served as chief judge.

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