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February 25, 2021

Jessica Foster appointed general district court judge

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Her work as a lawyer and community involvement have “taught me how to relate to people and how to communicate well, but also to be a good listener,” Jessica Foster says.
I’m deeply honored to be selected, and I’m really humbled that the General Assembly would place their confidence in me.
— 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
Fauquier’s General District Court soon will get a new judge.

The Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously appointed Jessica H. Foster, a Manassas lawyer who lives near Remington, to a six-year term on the bench that begins July 1.

“I’m deeply honored to be selected, and I’m really humbled that the General Assembly would place their confidence in me,” said Ms. Foster, 40, who will succeed J. Gregory Ashwell, whose retirement took effect Jan. 1. “And I’m going to take it very seriously — not just for them but for every person that’s going to come in through the General District Court in Fauquier County and Rappahannock County.”

The 20th Judicial District includes Fauquier, Rappahannock and Loudoun counties. Judgeship candidates must live in the district.

Assigned to Warrenton, Ms. Foster primarily will handle cases in Fauquier and Rappahannock courts.

Ms. Foster, who founded and heads a four-lawyer practice, has called general district “the people’s court” because so many people encounter 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 to determine whether such cases should be certified to a grand jury to indict defendants.

“Most people who have any kind of interaction with our justice system — because of a mistake that they made — are more than likely going to end up in front of our general district judge,” Ms. Foster said in a telephone interview.

Many also represent themselves before the court, she said.

“It’s going to be direct contact between me and the people that appear before me,” she explained. “So that really kind of makes it the people’s court.”

Her work and life experiences have prepared her well for the bench, Ms. Foster said.

“I think my years in private practice and a lot of the community stuff I’ve done have really kind of taught me how to relate to people and how to communicate well, but also to be a good listener,” she said. “I’m going to try to continue to be a good listener.”

With the General Assembly appointment, Ms. Foster will become the first woman to serve as Fauquier’s General District Court judge. (In February 2017, Melissa N. Cupp became the first woman to serve as Fauquier’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District judge.)

Four lawyers who live in Fauquier, including Ms. Foster, late last year announced plans to seek the general district court judgeship.

On Jan. 7, a group of senators and delegates who either represent the three counties in the 20th Judicial District 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 Senate and House of Delegates’ courts’ committee members interviewed Feb. 9 for the judgeship.

By Feb. 17, the Senate Judiciary and House Courts committees had certified Ms. Foster to the legislature for consideration.

Democratic Party-controlled Senate and the House of Delegates on Feb. 23 unanimously elected her to the bench.

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.

Like all new general district court judges, Ms. Foster will attend two weeklong training sessions before she takes the bench.

General district court judges earn $158,252 per year.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Rover 530 · February 27, 2021 at 1:12 pm
Congratulations! Excellent choice!
LittleOne · February 26, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Extremely disappointed! I can even type out my words! I pray for those that end up in front of her and that she does better as a judge than an attorney. Atleast I am happy and relieved to know she's out of her practice and will not do to others as she did to myself. I really do pray this is her calling and shr does great, but am very very hesitant.
JudicialEthics · February 26, 2021 at 1:40 pm
Congratulations. Looking forward to seeing and hearing a dedicated, competent public servant to add to the bench.
whittyp · February 25, 2021 at 2:09 pm
Jess Foster is going to be a fantastic judge! Someone who brings years of experience and has the temperament to deal with people who are most likely dealing with a difficult situation. She will be the people's judge.
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