Donald W. Lemons
|Donald W. Lemons|
|26th Chief Justice of Virginia|
January 1, 2015
|Preceded by||Cynthia D. Kinser|
|Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia|
March 16, 2000
|Preceded by||A. Christian Compton|
|Born||Donald Wayne Lemons
February 22, 1949
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Virginia (B.A., J.D.)|
Donald Wayne Lemons (born February 22, 1949) is the current Chief Justice, of the Supreme Court of Virginia. His four-year term as Chief Justice began on January 1, 2015. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia.
Lemons was Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Law of the University of Virginia School of Law from 1976 to 1978. He then entered the private practice. Lemons first served as a judge of the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, having been appointed to that position by Gov. George Felix Allen in 1995 while the legislature was out of session. He was subsequently confirmed for a full term by the General Assembly. In 1998, Lemons was elected by the General Assembly to an eight-year term on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Lemons succeeded Judge Joseph E. Baker, one of the original members of the Court of Appeals.
Upon the retirement of Justice A. Christian Compton in 2000, Lemons was elected by the General Assembly to fill the vacancy on the high court. Robert J. Humphreys was elected to fill the vacancy on the Court of Appeals created by Lemons' elevation to the Supreme Court.
From 1998 to 2000, Justice Lemons was the A.L. Philpott Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Richmond's law school. From 2000 to 2008, he was John Marshall Professor of Judicial Studies at the law school. Since 2008, he has been the Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va.
Justice Lemons authored the Court's opinion affirming the convictions and death sentence of John Allen Muhammad.
Justice Lemons is the father of model and actress Amy Lemons.
Justice Lemons was frequently mentioned as a likely candidate for appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. On June 13, 2007, Virginia Senators Webb and Warner announced that they had recommended Justice Lemons, along with four other candidates, to President Bush for nomination to the Court. The nomination, however, was given to Lemons' colleague, then Justice G. Steven Agee, who was ultimately confirmed by the Senate. Lemons did not actively seek a nomination for another vacancy on the Fourth Circuit that is to be filled by President Barack Obama; his colleague Justice Barbara M. Keenan received that appointment. Having been elected as Chief Justice, it is likely that he will not consider seeking a federal judgeship.
Justice Lemons presided over most of the October 2014 session of the Court as Chief Justice-elect.
Regarded by most as a moderate conservative, Justice Lemons is known for his easy manner in oral argument, often framing his questions as a restatement of the position being advocated by counsel in an effort to clarify the argument.
- "reappointment resolution". Justice Lemons will reach the mandatory retirement age for Virginia jurists before the expiration of his term; under current law (Code § 51.1-305(B1)), he will have to retire or take senior status no later than January 28, 2020.