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Event honors judge's contributions to area
Junius P. Warren, retired juvenile and domestic relations court judge, reacts to the unveiling of his portrait Thursday at an appreciation event. George Lyle, past president of the Martinsville-Henry County Bar Association, stands to the left. Warren officially retired April 1 after 29 years of service. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Friday, May 10, 2013
By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
A judge hears a fair number of stories during a 29-year career, so it was only fitting that Judge Junius P. Warren heard a few more Thursday afternoon.
He might have preferred, however, that they hadn’t all been about him.
The Martinsville-Henry County Bar Association and others from the city and county legal community gathered to honor the career of the newly retired juvenile and domestic relations judge Thursday in the Henry County Courthouse.
Warren, who retired April 1 after more than 29 years of service in the 21st Judicial District of Martinsville, Henry and Patrick counties, was presented with proclamations in his honor by the city, county and General Assembly as well as gifts from friends and colleagues. Mostly, though, he was bombarded with jokes from those who know him best.
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Fellow Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Susan Deatherage presided over the ceremony, warning that the floor would be open to those wanting to share a story about their dealings with Warren, who shouted from his seat in response.
“Judge, I want to give my objections before you get started,” he joked.
Deatherage, who noted that there have been only four judges to have served in the local juvenile and domestic relations court since it was started in 1968, said she had served with Warren for 18 years, “probably longer than any two judges in the state of Virginia,” she said. “I hate to see him go because he knows so much about the system.”
Deatherage said she and Warren had a complementary “yin and yang” relationship while presiding over the juvenile and domestic relations court system, adding that she was confident she will find that same level of cooperation with Warren’s successor, Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Bushnell.
Judge David Williams said he had known Warren since 1980 and had stories galore, “most of which probably aren’t fit for the courtroom,” he said. Warren later teased that Williams had “taken some of my best women,” hiring Warren’s former secretary for his own office and then marrying one of Warren’s court clerks. Warren noted both still are with Williams.
“Thank you very much,” Williams joked.
Retired Judge Frank Greenwalt told stories dating back to Warren’s youth, joked about his devotion to fishing and boating, and expressed gratitude that Warren would be joining him in retirement as a substitute judge when needed.
“I can’t wait to divide the substitute days into three instead of two,” he said.
Attorney Charles Aaron, who said his wedding was officiated by both Warren and Williams, said the two tried to get him to sneak off immediately afterward to go hunting while his wife wasn’t looking. “But my wife picked the only church with no back door,” he said.
He also joked that Warren played a prank on Aaron’s wife Susan, telling her the judges did not have the authority to perform a ceremony in Carroll County, making their marriage unofficial. She later called an attorney in Roanoke, who informed her the ceremony was, in fact, legal statewide, Aaron said.
Deatherage noted that Warren had put off retirement for two or three years at her behest, and she thanked Warren’s wife Becky for letting him stay on. She also thanked Warren’s family “for sharing him with us for 30 years.”
“It was our pleasure,” Warren’s brother Nick shouted in response.
Deatherage gave Warren a plaque saying he “tempered justice with empathy” and saluting his commitment to families in the community. He received a football from Aaron that was signed by members of his favorite NFL team, the Washington Redskins, and cards and a scrapbook of his career from court clerks, “in case he forgets,” one joked.
Proclamations honoring him were presented by Henry County Attorney George Lyle and Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams as well as Martinsville City Attorney Eric Monday. He also was presented Statehouse Resolution 908, which was written by local representatives Don Merricks, Danny Marshall and Bill Stanley, commending him on a job well done.
“It goes to show the legislators, (city) council and board of supervisors really don’t know too much,” Warren joked.
A portrait of Warren also was unveiled, which will be hung in the city courtroom, Lyle said. “Every judge makes his portrait a little bigger and frames it a little nicer,” he said.
Warren thanked all those who helped him over the years, from his family to his staff, bailiffs, attorneys and judges.
“I never could have made it 30 years without a lot of help,” he said. “I hope I made some small impact” and “made this area a little better than when I started.”