Friday, February 09, 2018

From the Archives: Virginia political leaders mourn passing of Supreme Court Justice Leroy Hassell

Virginia political leaders mourn passing of Supreme Court Justice Leroy Hassell
February 9, 2011 1:53 PM MST

Virginia Supreme Court justice Leroy Hassell
On February 9, the Virginia Supreme Court announced the death of one of its members, Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr., who had served on the state’s top bench since 1989. He also served as Chief Justice from 2003 through the end of last month.

Born and raised in Norfolk, where he attended Norview High School, Hassell was a graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as well as of Harvard University Law School. He was 55 years old at the time of his death.

Governor Bob McDonnell has ordered that all flags at local, state, and federal buildings in Virginia will be flown at half-staff until Justice Hassell’s burial.

Calling Justice Hassell “a personal friend who will be greatly missed,” Governor McDonnell recalled “numerous private lunches” with the judge, in which he displayed “keen insights into the human spirit.”

'Brilliant legal mind'
With Hassell’s death, McDonnell said, “Virginia has lost a brilliant legal mind, accomplished jurist and devoted public servant.”

Hassell, McDonnell added, had passion and drive that led to his becoming a state Supreme Court justice at the age of 34, “one of the youngest justices in the history of the court.”

McDonnell noted that when Hassell became the first African-American chief justice in 2002, it was “a monumental achievement for Virginia and for him.”

The Governor praised the Hassell for “standing his ground on principal in the court, making his concerns known in an effort to improve the judicial system.”

'Well respected by all'
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling also issued a statement, saying in an email message:

“Chief Justice Hassell’s impact on Virginia’s judiciary will be felt for many years to come. As the first African-American Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, Chief Justice Hassell played an important role in continuing our state’s progress toward a more perfect union. He was well respected by all who knew him and worked with him.”

'Culture of merit and justice'
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in his own statement that “Chief Justice Hassell played an important role in helping our generation look beyond the racial lines that separated us, and toward a culture of merit and justice that unite us. He was both generous and resolute in his determination to help his fellow man. Virginia is greater and stronger because of his example, and he will be greatly missed.”

According to the Governor's office, Justice Hassell's body will lie in state in the capitol building in Richmond prior to his burial. At press time, complete funeral arrangements had not been released.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on February 9, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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