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February 9, 2021

Foster poised to secure appointment to judgeship

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After starting as a prosecutor, Jessica Foster has worked in private practice since 2010.
The people’s judge really needs to be one who understands every-day, real-world problems and particularly the intersection of how one bad choice can have a life-altering, snowball effect.
— General district court judgeship candidate Jessica H. Foster
Jessica Harbeson Foster
• Age: 40

• Work: Partner, Foster McCollam law firm, Manassas, 2016-present; JH Foster Law, 2015-16; Olmstead & Olmstead, 2010-15; prosecutor, Frederick County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, 2009-10.

• Home: Near Remington.

• Education: Law Degree, Western Michigan University, 2009; bachelor’s degree, criminal justice, George Mason University, 2006; associate’s degree, administration of justice, Northern Virginia Community College, 2004; la Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 2002; Athenee Royal d’Ottignies in Ottignies (high school), Belgium, 1999.

• Family: Husband Brett, 42; daughter Bailey, 8, and son, Brady, 6.

• Hobbies: Camping, reading and traveling.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The lawyer and Remington-area resident’s bid to fill the Fauquier County General District Court judgeship vacancy seems like a shoo-in.

Jessica H. Foster’s virtual interview for the job with a panel of Virginia lawmakers Tuesday afternoon lasted less than four minutes.

No members of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judicial Panel asked Ms. Foster, 40, any questions — a clear sign they intend to “certify” her candidacy to the Virginia General Assembly that will appoint her to the bench.

“The committees did not vote to certify any candidate interviewed today,” Shannon Heard, a legal associate with the Division of Legislative Services, said in an email Tuesday night. “Certification will occur at a later date.”

With majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, Democrats control judicial appointments.

Barring the improbable, Ms. Foster will succeed Judge J. Gregory Ashwell, whose retirement took effect Jan. 1.

The Manassas-based attorney’s appointment would make her the first woman to sit on the general district court bench in Warrenton as a full-time judge.

Historically, the judge who presides there has served only Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.

Four lawyers who live in Fauquier, including Ms. Foster, late last year announced plans to seek the 20th Judicial District judgeship.

The judicial district includes Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties. Judgeship candidates must live in the district.

On Jan. 7, a group of senators and delegates who either represent the three counties or whose legislative districts adjoin them interviewed Ms. Foster, Allison E. Coppage of Warrenton, David J. Dischley of New Baltimore and Victoria C. Dronsick, who lives near Marshall, for the judgeship.

But the panel endorsed only Ms. Foster for the job — positioning her as the sole candidate that the courts’ committee members interviewed Tuesday for the judgeship.

Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33rd/Herndon) organized the area delegations that backed Ms. Foster.

The senator on Tuesday also introduced Ms. Foster to the courts’ committee members.

While Ms. Foster has a “broad range of experience,” the senator said her demeanor impressed the delegations’ members most.

“It was her interview that really blew us away,” Sen. Boysko recalled. “She brought such grace and a compassion and an interest in the people who go before the general district court.”

For many, general district court represents “the only interaction they will ever have with the judicial system,” the senator said. “The politeness and thoughtfulness she brought to us was just really compelling. . . . I heartily endorse her.”

In a brief statement, Ms. Foster gave the courts’ panels an overview of her career and view of a general district court judge’s job and responsibilities.

In 11 years as a private-practice attorney, she has “dedicated” her “career to representing regular people in our district courts,” Ms. Foster said.

During that time, she has represented more than 1,500 “indigent” defendants as a court-appointed counsel, more than 100 abused and neglected immigrant children and hundreds of families “in turmoil,” Ms. Foster said.

The general district judgeship would allow her to “continue that service to that community and the citizens of Fauquier County in a way that will make an even broader impact,” she explained.

Ms. Foster called general district court “the people’s court” because so many people experience the judicial system at that level.

Fauquier’s busiest court, it handles traffic offenses, neighborhood disagreements, landlord and tenant disputes, misdemeanor fines and preliminary hearings on felony charges.

“So the people’s judge really needs to be one who understands every-day, real-world problems and particularly the intersection of how one bad choice can have a life-altering, snowball effect,” said Ms. Foster, who started her legal career in Winchester as a prosecutor.

She added: “I’ve always tried to listen carefully. I’ve tried to understand, and I’ve tried to be fair.”

While area delegations backed Ms. Foster, the Fauquier County Bar Association and the Loudoun County Virginia Bar Association gave its top designation — “highly recommended” — to Ms. Coppage for the judgeship.

The voluntary organizations determined Mr. Dischley qualified and recommended him.

Both groups deemed Ms. Foster and Ms. Drosnick qualified but didn’t recommend them for the job.

The two bars based their evaluations on candidate questionnaire responses and interviews, which took place in December.

Serving six-year terms, general district court judges earn $158,252 per year.

Ms. Foster in 2019 won the Democratic primary but lost the general election, 56 to 44 percent, in a bid to unseat Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg/88th) from the Virginia House of Delegates.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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maude · February 11, 2021 at 7:16 pm
"While area delegations backed Ms. Foster, the Fauquier County Bar Association and the Loudoun County Virginia Bar Association gave its top designation — “highly recommended” — to Ms. Coppage for the judgeship. So why is she "Poised to secure appointment to judgeship"?
Do the Bar Associations of Fauquier and Loudoun have no say in this matter?
Or is it like so many other selections/appointments in this county, who do you know who can pull the strings/offer promises/buy the votes, to get you the job?
Alohaexpress · February 10, 2021 at 7:32 pm
"area delegations backed Foster"?? Really? Every single Fauquier and Rappahannock representative does NOT back her.








LittleOne · February 10, 2021 at 4:29 pm
No thanks, they need to speak with those she has so called "helped" makes me sick reading how polite she is and how she always does whats fair. After thousand spent to this women and her to drop the case in the middle for no legitimate reason other than it wasn't as simple as she expected, I have nothing nice to say besides clearly she's very convincing! Makes me sick.
SarahConnors · February 10, 2021 at 2:11 pm
Wonderful...another DemocRAT judge, applying their form of social justice. Another strike against Fauquier County.
Alohaexpress · February 9, 2021 at 8:50 pm
3rd best choice of 4 who applied. Probably a nice person but this is what you get when political favors are called in by leftist party in power in General Assembly. Look for soft sentences and soft on crime views coming to local courts.
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