The Nelson County Courthouse circuit courtroom in Lovingston was filled with those eager to celebrate the swearing in of a Lynchburg lawyer as a circuit court judge in the 24th Judicial District.
J. Frederick Watson, a lawyer with Caskie and Frost law firm in Lynchburg for the last 21 years, will now be sitting on the bench in Nelson County Circuit Court after taking the oath Friday. Amherst Circuit Court Judge Michael Garrett, who has been covering both localities for the past four years, welcomed everyone to the investiture Friday afternoon, eager to welcome the additional help, but also sad to leave Nelson County.
“I am excited for Judge Watson and for Nelson County,” Judge Garrett said.
Judge Garrett has been splitting his time between Nelson and Amherst circuit court, but with the rise in dockets, the 24th Judicial District was in need of an additional judge. The 24th Judicial District covers Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Campbell, and Lynchburg.
Senator Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, was instrumental in getting a sixth judge despite past budgetary concerns, according to Judge Garrett, and was in attendance at the investiture Friday.
“We expect great things from you, and I know we will not be disappointed,” Peake said to Watson.
Along with Sen. Peake, retired Judge J. Michael Gamble and W. Thomas Berry, representing the bar, both gave short speeches congratulating Watson and wishing him luck in his new role before Judge John Cook, Campbell County circuit court judge, administered the oath of office.
Watson thanked his family, friends and colleagues for their confidence in him and the support they have shown throughout the years.
“We are just very proud of him,” Watson’s wife, Cindy, said after the investiture had come to a close.
Judge Watson officially will start Monday.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for the News and Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.