Kimberly Belongia was sworn in June 21 as a judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the 21st Circuit of Virginia.

The “investiture” ceremony at the Henry County Courthouse opened with a prayer given by Belongia’s brother, Bill Richardson. Chief Circuit Court Judge David V. Williams addressed the crowd of about 100 and read a letter of support from Circuit Court Judge Martin F. Clark Jr., who recently retired and was unable to attend.

Assistant Public Defender Lauren McGarry, representing the local bar association, emceed the event. Local lawyer Janine Jacob introduced Belongia.

“I was presented a robe by the Martinsville-Henry County Bar Association. My children assisted me in putting on the robe for the first time,” Belongia wrote in an email.

Judge Williams then administered the oath of office.

“My husband, Sto Belongia, assisted and held the Bible on which I took the oath,” she said.

Belongia then spoke to the crowd and said she thanked those in attendance and others “for being part of the ‘village’ (as in ‘it takes a village’) of people who, throughout the course of my life have supported and encouraged me and helped me to achieve my goals. I noted that, as everyone there had been part of my village, I hoped to be a part of the village of people assisting children and families coming through my court.”

She said she pledges to be “open-minded and compassionate, to temper justice with mercy and to endeavor to earn the confidence placed in me.”

A reception at the HJDB Bassett Event Center followed.

Belongia, a resident of Collinsville, had practiced law in Martinsville for more than 20 years, primarily in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. She also had served as a substitute judge for about 14 years.

The 21st Judicial District is comprised of Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville. The judgeship emerged because of the retirement of Judge Bob Bushnell, and she was elected by the General Assembly to a 6-year term.

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

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