Provided by Prince William County Bar Association
The Prince William County Bar Association hosted the investitures of the Honorable Turkessa Bynum Rollins to PWC General District Court and the Honorable Angela Lemmon Horan to PWC Circuit Court on June 28. Judge Rollins was appointed to a six year term, commencing July 1, 2019, filling the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Horan to the higher court. Judge Horan was appointed to an eight year term, commencing July 1, 2019, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Lon E. Farris.
Senator Scott Surovell presented the Commission on behalf of the Prince William Legislative Delegation to Judge Horan. In his remarks he noted that “there’ve been a lot of changes in Prince William County in the last three to four years with the loss of Senator Colgan, the longest serving Senator; Supervisor John Jenkins, and the pending retirement of Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert; that’s 150 years of political experience that has left us.” Losses such as these leave big shoes to fill, but the new members in the General Assembly, Board of County Supervisors and in the CA’s Office are, and will be, up to the task.
Surovell said, “It’s important to remember that judges are elected [by the General Assembly]as independent, constitutional officers, just like the Clerk, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Sheriff. We elect them to exercise their independent judgement on behalf of the citizens of Prince William County. They are an expression of our democracy.” He added that he and his colleagues look for “intellect, judgment, legal experience, life experience, and empathy” in judicial candidates. He also said that he “looks for people who bring a little something different to the bench. Horan distinguished herself in her career by becoming the County Attorney. That local government experience will be an asset to this bench as well as to the judges all over Northern Virginia.”
Judge Turkessa Bynum Rollins
Delegate Carroll Foy presented the Commission to Judge Rollins. In Carroll Foy’s remarks, she said that she had “actually heard about [Judge-elect Rollins] long before I met her. I heard that there was a sub-judge here, and that she was fair, compassionate, thoughtful and had a sincere and genuine appetite to help others. Today is a tremendous accomplishment, but as you know, to whom much is given, much is required. There are few positions that are more important or more powerful than a judge. As a judge you have the capability to do much good—or harm. You are responsible for protecting our community while also protecting our civil liberties.”
Carroll Foy also encouraged Judge-elect Rollins to “understand that justice does not always equate to incarceration, that sometimes people just need a second chance. Decisions that you make not only effect the defendant before you, but also that family, that community, and this entire commonwealth. Judge-elect Rollins understands this and I appreciate this quality in her.”
Judge-elect Rollins was introduced by Chidi James, Esq., a law school classmate and long-time friend. He said, “It is often said that good things come in little packages –never has that been more true than of Judge Rollins,” a reference to the fact that she stands about five feet tall. He spoke about her numerous accomplishments while growing up. He said that she “attended law school at night, while working full time and caring for their first daughter, Tyasia”. James also mentioned the many ways she gave her time to serve on professional boards, at her daughter’s schools, or in the community. “No matter how full her plate was—she would always take time to help others.” He ended his remarks by referencing the poem by Will Allen Dromgoole, The Bridge Builder, saying that it reminded him of his friend Turkessa, because “her journey is building bridges for those who will follow her. She’s been a great bridge builder her entire life; and will continue to do so.”
The Honorable Rossie D. Alston, Jr., United States District Court, administered the oath to Judge Rollins. In her opening remarks, she said, “this is the happiest day of my life—second only to my marriage to my husband and the birth of my children. Growing up, I didn’t know any lawyers or judges or anyone of that caliber. I never dreamed this would be my journey. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and the first person to go to graduate school. My parents always taught my sister and me that obtaining an education was our job—our top priority. They taught us that we could excel under any circumstances, which has been a guiding force my entire life, and they taught us to become strong women of character [where]your word is your bond.”
In reflecting on her journey to the bench, Judge Rollins thanked her partners at Fullerton and Knowles, for never telling her she should cut back on the time she spent outside the office, serving on boards, organizing the Court Tours program, or taking her girls on field trips. “They were incredibly supportive of me.” In her closing remarks, Judge Rollins pledged to work hard to make the right decisions from the bench, and to follow the inspiring words on a gift from her church family. “Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you.”
Judge Angela Lemmon Horan
The Honorable D. Scott Bailey, PWC J&DR District Court, introduced Judge Angela Horan. He noted that there were many “current and retired people who have served this county for many years, who’ve returned [today]to honor our friend Angela. These are people who’ve been fiercely loyal to Angela throughout her career as a public servant. What would inspire that kind of loyalty? Her sense of curiosity. She really wants to know what brings that litigant before her. If an attorney raises an issue she isn’t familiar with, she wants them to explain it to her, and that is a precious commodity. And her curiosity is contagious. Her questions engage everyone involved, which results in a better outcome. She’s done that for four years, time and time again, and now she gets to do it on the record.”
The Honorable Mary Grace O’Brien, Court of Appeals of Virginia, administered the Oath to Judge Angela Horan. In her opening remarks, Judge Horan said, “I am so grateful to be standing here today. I did not get here alone. I have many people to thank.” Among those, she thanked the “members of the legislative delegation who took their time to be here today. You are not thanked enough for the sacrifices you make as public servants.” She acknowledged that she and her “brothers and sisters learned the value of fairness, hard work and empathy from my parents, who taught us these things by example. They showed us the way to live. I’ve been so fortunate in my career to have always worked with people who lead and taught by example.”
Horan clerked for the Judges in PWC Circuit Court following law school, and from there went to work for the County Attorney’s Office, where she “got to work with and for brilliant attorneys who set a high standard. We have so much to be thankful for in Prince William County because of the good work ethic and solidarity of all our county employees.” In her closing remarks, she thanked the late Senator Colgan “for being one of the first people to believe I could do this”, referring to her appointment to the bench. She recalled that while she was being presented to the General Assembly by the Courts of Justice Committee earlier this year, a senior member of the delegation told her, “We miss Senator Colgan every day.” Judge Horan promised to “work very hard to do a good job in this position. I’m also going to keep working to conduct myself like a member of the community that deserved to have Chuck Colgan represent them.”