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Bushnell humbled after being appointed judge

Friday, April 5, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

When Bob Bushnell saw the sign his co-workers had left for him in the window of his office Thursday — a banner reading “Congratulations Judge Bushnell” — “tears formed,” he said.

Bushnell, the Henry County commonwealth’s attorney, was chosen as a new local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judge at Wednesday night’s General Assembly.

On July 1, he will succeed Judge Junius Warren, whose retirement went into effect April 1.

“I’m humbled,” Bushnell said. “I’ll always be grateful for the confidence (the legislators) placed in me.”

Bushnell explained that he decided to apply for the position because he believes that there is some overlap between his current position and a Juvenile and Domestic Court judge.

There are four main parts to the commonwealth’s attorney position, he explained:

1. Being an advocate for the Commonwealth.

2. Making behind-the-scenes legal decisions; figuring out how to resolve issues with charges.

3. Working with people.

4. Trying to find fair and practical solutions to problems.

“What I want to do in this stage of my life is focus on those last three,” Bushnell said, and the Juvenile and Domestic Court judge position was a perfect fit.

Bushnell was at the General Assembly in Richmond when the decision was made that he would receive the seat on the bench. The news reached him at roughly 12:45 a.m. Thursday morning.

“I was standing by the Senate and House chambers” when the decision was reached, he said. “It’s a memory that I’ll always treasure.”

The only other Virginia judicial candidate who stayed to await the results, Bushnell said, was Martinsville attorney Jim Reynolds, who was appointed as a Danville Circuit Court judge the same evening.

Since hearing the news, Bushnell said, he had received countless congratulatory phone calls and e-mails “from across the state,” including messages from citizens, old friends, judges, police officers, agency heads, colleagues, and others.

“It’s just been overwhelming,” he said.

Bushnell will continue to serve as commonwealth’s attorney until July 1. He has appointed Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney M. Andrew Nester to serve as the acting commonwealth’s attorney until Bushnell’s replacement can be chosen in a special election.

The date of the election will be determined by the Virginia State Board of Elections, he said.

In the meantime, “we’re going to keep on doing our best” to serve the community, he said.

While Bushnell is excited take the bench, he described leaving the commonwealth’s attorney’s office as “bittersweet.”

“I know that I’m not going to be going back to the General Assembly and advocating for prosecutors,” he said. “I’m going to miss serving on boards and commissions.”

Mostly, however, Bushnell is thankful for this new opportunity.

“I’ll always be grateful to our local delegates,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to make them proud.”


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