The Virginia General Assembly has approved two new General District Court judges for Loudoun County, including the county's first black judge, Lorrie A. Sinclair Taylor.
The Senate unanimously approved Sinclair Taylor and Matthew P. Snow for the bench March 3.
The two will succeed judges Frank Buttery, Jr., and Dean S. Worcester, who notified the Loudoun County Bar Association of their planned retirements last November. Sinclair Taylor will begin her term in April, while Snow will take the bench in May.
Sinclair Taylor and Snow were previously law partners with first-year Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj (D). The trio closed their office at the end of 2019.
Originally from New York, Sinclair Taylor moved to Loudoun County in 1999. She said it's “been quite a journey” to the bench.
“I think I have a unique perspective that will help complement the judiciary,” Sinclair Taylor told the Times-Mirror. “ … It didn't dawn on me that I'd be the first [African American judge], I just had a passion to serve the community.”
Sinclair Taylor, who previously sought an open seat on the bench, said she hopes her diverse background and professional persistence will inspire young people to follow their dreams.
“I want to let young people know to pursue their dreams and work hard and it can pay off,” she said.
Snow, who grew up in Connecticut before locating to Virginia for college, said he thinks his steady temperament and calm demeanor will serve him well as a judge.
“I'm honored to have the responsibility,” Snow told the Times-Mirror, adding he feels like it's the right time in his career, which has included stints as a special justice presiding over cases involving mental health and as a substitute judge.
“Everyone who comes in front of us is a person, and I always want to remember that,” Snow said. “I want to make sure everyone feels heard.”
General District and Circuit Court judges in Virginia are appointed by the General Assembly. District Court judges serve six-year terms, while Circuit Court judges are appointed for eight years. General District is the lower of the two courts – though it handles a broader caseload – with higher trials being handled in Circuit Court.
Pastor Michelle Thomas, president of the Loudoun NAACP, was quick to comment on the historic appointment of Sinclair Taylor.
"On the heels of Black History Month and just in time for Women’s History Month, Lorrie Sinclair will move from arguing cases to deciding them this spring as Loudoun’s first African-American judge takes the bench," Thomas said on Facebook.
This story has been updated to include comments from Snow and Sinclair Thomas.