Portrait Of Retired Judge Unveiled

Judge Lane Served 12 Years On Circuit Court

Posted: August 31, 2013

Retired Judge James V. Lane listens to remarks during the presentation of his retirement portrait on Friday in Rockingham County Circuit Court in Harrisonburg. Lane retired in June after serving on the bench in Rockingham County since 2001. (Photo by Jason Lenhart)
HARRISONBURG — A portrait of retired Judge James V. Lane was unveiled Friday in Rockingham County Circuit Court.

A special court session was held so that the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association could submit to the court a photograph of Lane, which will hang in the courtroom along with portraits of other retired judges.

About 75 people attended the courtroom ceremony, including current and former judges, attorneys, law enforcement officials and others.

Lane, 69, retired in June after serving on the 26th Judicial Circuit bench since 2001.

He was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to replace the late Judge Porter Graves.

“One attorney who practiced before him frequently said, ‘As a judge, he was a gentleman to all. I never heard him utter an unkind word, even to the most heinous defendant. After pronouncing the sentence, he would wish the defendant well and call the next case. He was a judge counted on for the knowledge of law and fairness to all,’” reads a resolution from the bar association accepted by the court into the record.

A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Lane attended law school at the University of Baltimore.

After that, he clerked for Justice Marvin Smith of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Lane moved to the area after marrying Valley native Lucretia Miller Lane. He joined Harrisonburg firm Litten and Sipe in 1973.

Known as being larger than life by colleagues, Lane quickly built a reputation for being a savvy litigator.

Co-workers at Litten and Sipe once overheard his voice “booming” from his office, telling someone, “All right, I tried. And if you want to rumble, we’re going to rumble,” the resolution says.

“This boldness manifested itself even in lunchtime arguments, as when Lane drank a whole bottle of hot sauce to prove his point on the timidity of the ‘Old El Paso’ brand (and win $20 in the process),” the resolution says.
But once he donned his judge’s robe, colleagues say, Lane put his larger-than-life persona aside and made the law the center of attention.

“Judge Lane has been a steady, evenhanded presence,” said Judge T.J. Wilson, who presided over Friday’s session.
Lane thanked all those he worked with in the court system but also took his opportunity to speak to get a laugh out of the audience.

“I wasn’t prepared for all these comments,” he said. “You must be talking about someone else.”

And his comments support a description of his style as a judge in the bar association’s resolution.

“He knew the law as well as anyone,” it says, “but he presented it with a human face, on to which anyone could relate.”

Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or jhunt@dnronline.com

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