James R. Spencer

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For other people named James Spencer, see James Spencer (disambiguation).

James Randolph Spencer (born 1949) is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was born in Florence, South Carolina in 1949 and attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1971. He earned Juris Doctor in 1974 at Harvard Law School.

After Harvard, he was commissioned as a captain in the United States Army JAG Corps. He served in that capacity from 1975 until 1978. After being Honorably Discharged from the active duty, he took a job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, serving there from 1978 until 1983. He also was recommissioned in the U.S. Army Reserves, serving as a Military Judge from 1981 until 1986. From 1983 until 1986, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

James R. Spencer was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 9, 1986, to the a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 8, 1986, and received his commission on October 14, 1986. He was the first African American to be nominated to this position in this district.

In 1985, Judge Spencer earned a master of divinity degree from Howard University.

From 2004 to 2011, Judge Spencer was Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Virginia. He was succeeded as Chief Judge by Rebecca Beach Smith.

His wife, Margaret Spencer is a Judge on the Richmond, Virginia Circuit Court.[1]

Judge Spencer took Senior Status on March 25, 2014. He presided over the highly visible trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell who were convicted of federal corruption charges.[2][3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ HOLMBERG: Historic trial of former Governor McDonnell will have historic judge (CBS6 WTVR.com)
  2. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (January 21, 2014). "Former Va. Gov. McDonnell and wife charged in gifts case". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Zapotsky, Matt (5 September 2014). "Robert McDonnell Guilty of 11 Corruption Counts". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Ashton MacKenzie
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Succeeded by
M. Hannah Lauck