BLOGS: Western District of Virginia Law Blog

Jason grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, clerked for Judge Samuel G. Wilson in Roanoke, Virginia, and practices law in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Thursday, July 24, 2014, 10:19 AM

"Happiness Is The Truth"

Charlottesville, Virginia has been named the happiest city in the United States.  It also will be home to the newest (unofficial) office of Womble Carlyle.  Coincidence?  Yes, probably.

A recent study from a Harvard professor ranked Charlottesville as the happiest city in the US.  Just down the road, Richmond was rated the "most contented" metropolitan area with over one million people.  Norfolk/Virginia Beach, hometown of the "Happy" songwriter Pharrell, came in second.  There must be something about Virginia!

The study suggested that people are willing to sacrifice happiness if the price is right. "Indeed, the residents of unhappier metropolitan areas today do receive higher real wages -- presumably as compensation for their misery."  Which explains Northern Virginia.  Just kidding!

In unrelated news, I'm happy to announce that Womble Caryle will soon be opening a new office space in Charlottesville to serve as a staging area for Virginia-based litigation outside of the Washington beltway.  Charlottesville is one of the headquarters of the Western District of Virginia.  Additionally, from this central location, an attorney can travel to just about any courthouse in the Commonwealth in under two hours.  The location and opening date for the "Charlottesville office" have not been finalized.  I will announce more after the details are worked out.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 5:13 PM

Judge Turk's Legacy Remembered By Lawyers And Judges

All of the local papers ran stories this week about Judge Turk's passing and the fond memories that lawyers and judges had of Judge Turk's unique and warm sense of justice.  Judge Turk, who was appointed by Richard Nixon, served as a federal judge in the Western District of Virginia for 41 years before passing away Sunday evening at age 91.  The News and Advance ran a story with many colorful anecdotes of Judge Turk's merciful rulings and sentencings in criminal cases. 

One of his most famous civil cases was a prison literature case in which Judge Turk struck down a policy that denied inmates access to novels "Ulysses" by James Joyce and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence, which had been banned because of their sexually explicit passages.  He also presided over the 1981 libel case Jerry Falwell brought against Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine. 

Before becoming a judge, Turk practiced law at the Radford firm of Dalton, Poff and Turk--a firm with three very famous names in the Western District of Virginia.  Ted Dalton, known as Mr. Republican, ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Virginia when the Byrd machine still dominated Virginia politics.  Dalton later was appointed to the federal bench.  His nephew and adopted son, John Dalton, was elected Governor of Virginia in 1977. 

Turk's other law-partner Richard Poff served in the House of Representatives for many years, was the author of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and was considered for the Supreme Court, prior to Nixon's appointment of fellow Virginian Lewis Powell.  Poff went on to serve on the Virginia Supreme Court.  The federal courthouse in Roanoke, where Judge Turk presided for so many years, was named for Poff.

This legacy continues after Judge Turk's death.  His former law clerk, Glen Conrad, was appointed to replace Judge Turk as a federal judge when he took senior status in 2003.  Judge Turk has two sons who are prominent in the legal community in Southwest Virginia: Jimmy Turk, a high-profile defense attorney in Montgomery County; and Bobby Turk, a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge.  There are countless members of the legal community in Southwest Virginia that feel a connection to and fondness towards Judge Turk.

Current United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said in a statement: "[Judge Turk's] tradition of shaking hands with defendants after their cases concluded was a perfect manifestation of his essential humanity and his ability to recognize the good in all people, regardless of circumstance."

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