FALLS CHURCH—The Fairfax Bar Association celebrated its longest-serving circuit judge on Jan. 6 when it unveiled the portrait of Jane Marum Roush, who spent 22 years on the bench there before her appointment to the Supreme Court of Virginia last August.
Fairfax Circuit Judge Daniel Ortiz noted in his remarks that Roush’s tenure was the longest of any circuit judge in Fairfax and that Roush was known as “a lawyer’s judge” and an “ideal colleague” during her time in Fairfax.
Roush frequently was called on by the Supreme Court to hear complex cases in other parts of the state. Alexandria lawyer Pia Trigiani said Roush became the “Ghostbuster,” as in, “who you gonna call” when you need judicial expertise? The answer: Jane Roush.
N. Thomas Connally, a partner at Hogan Lovells, Roush’s firm before she went on the bench, noted that she handled to trial of Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo in 2003 and the complex Kyanite litigation in 2012. The latter case established minority shareholder rights in a corporate dispute.
He hailed what he called Roush’s “social intelligence,” that “makes a good judge great.” By that term he meant when to apply a firm hand or a gentle touch, and the ability to make every litigant feel respected.
Connally also lauded Roush’s talent for finding moments of humor even during a tense trial.
He noted that several years ago, Roush wrote a piece for the VBA Journal, compiling actual things said in court.
One lawyer told the judge herself: “Your honor, my client is a real mother. Not like you. She stays at home with her children.”
Beneath all the accolades was a current recognizing Roush’s present status. Her appointment to the high court will expire shortly after the General Assembly returns to Richmond; she must be elected to the legislators to remain on the court.
Republican leaders so far have indicated that they will not support her election. Their objections have not been to Roush’s qualifications. Among other concerns, they were unhappy that Gov. Terry McAuliffe did not consult them before naming Roush to the seat in August.
If she is rejected, it will be against the tide of history. Connally observed that the last time a justice appointed by the governor was rejected by the Assembly was in 1901. Over the past 115 years, 31 appointed justices have sought election by the Assembly and all 31 justices remained on the court.
Trigiani urged members of the FBA to let their voices be heard.
“If you have the ear of an elected official – bend it,” she said. “Share with him or her your concern – that the independence of the judiciary, the stability of the court – is in jeopardy.”
When given the opportunity to speak herself, Roush said, “I would be lying if I told you that this turn of events hasn’t been distressing to me and to my family.”
But she added, “Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I remain hopeful that, with your support, and with the support of fair-minded people who care about the stability of the judiciary, and the quality of the judiciary – people in the mold of Sen. Joe Gartlan – that this process will be de-politicized, and that I will be able to continue my commitment to public service as a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.”
Roush’s portrait will hang in Courtroom 5J, the courtroom of Chief Judge Bruce White. It will join the portraits of other Fairfax circuit judges who went on the serve on higher courts, including Harry L. Carrico, of the Supreme Court; Johanna Fitzpatrick, of the Court of Appeals; and Barbara Milano Keenan, of both the Supreme Court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.