Members of the local legal community were rocked this morning with the news of former County General District Judge Julia Cannon's death.

A spokesperson for the Loudoun County Bar Association announced the passing, which happened Thursday, to association members Friday with few details.

Cannon served on the bench in Loudoun from the early 1990s until her retirement in 2011. She graduated from the University of Virginia Law School.

"Judge Cannon was a wonderful person and a great judge," Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring said. "Loudoun was fortunate to have her. She was well-respected by those who entered her court room and well-liked by those who knew her outside of it."

Leesburg-based attorney John Flannery said he was startled by the news.

"Cannon was an exceptional lawyer and a fair no-nonsense judge who did her homework and came to court ready to discuss what needed to be done -- and to get it done promptly," Flannery said. "Julia was active in the community and popular on and off the bench. It's a shocking and unpleasant surprise that we've lost her."

John Whitbeck, a local attorney who sounded shaken by the news, called Cannon a "great lady and a great judge." He recalled his favorite story about her.

"When I was a substitute judge I took a recess to consider my decision in a criminal case," Whitbeck said. "I was about 29 or 30 years old and getting comfortable being in the position. I just could not make up my mind and was pacing back and forth in judge's chambers really struggling with what to do. She saw me and said, 'Hey John what's going on?' I think she knew I was struggling with something. I told her I just couldn't decide whether to convict the defendant or find him not guilty. She said very bluntly, 'sounds like reasonable doubt to me.' She was exactly right."

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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