Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chief Justice Hassell Dies

Yesterday, Chief Justice Leroy Hassell passed away.

Justice Hassell grew up from humble beginnings in Norfolk and went on to attend Harvard Law School. He turned down a Rhodes Scholarship.

After practicing at McGuire Woods, he was appointed as the first African American Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia. He was appointed by Governor Gerald Baililes in 1989 at age 34. He served as Chief Justice from 2003-2011.

I have argued appeals to Justice Hassell on several occasions. In my first appearance before him in 1999, I asked the Court to accept an appeal of a case involving fraud in the sale of a $4,500 car. I have a vivid memory of my opposing counsel trying to minimize what his client had done and Justice Hassell cutting him off and reminding him that fraud was a very serious, nearly criminal matter and that having adequate remedies for fraud was a very important deal to him. I went on to lose my appeal with Justice Hassell in dissent, but his passion for justice was undeniable.

He passed away at age 55.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. My condolences to his family and friends.

    It's always a welcome change to see a judge with a true sense of justice.