Attorney Melissa Friedman, a longtime fixture of Roanoke’s legal community, has been appointed to a judgeship in juvenile and domestic relations court.
Friedman will serve within the 23rd Judicial Circuit, which covers Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem, and will fill the vacancy that was created when Judge Onzlee Ware was elevated to sit in circuit court earlier this year.
Friedman is scheduled to take her oath Nov. 30 and begin hearing cases Dec. 1.
Friedman’s appointment, created Thursday through a vote by the circuit’s judges, is interim and is slated to be in place at least until 30 days after the start of the Virginia General Assembly’s next session, which is due to begin Jan. 13. The General Assembly could hold permanent judicial elections during that session.
Friedman, who has been endorsed by area bar associations for several recent judicial vacancies, got even higher backing earlier this year.
In August, Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, who chairs the Senate Judicial Committee, and Del. Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk, chairman of the House Courts of Justice Judicial Subcommittee, sent a letter to Roanoke Circuit Judge David Carson, urging him and his colleagues to give Friedman an interim appointment “with the understanding that the General Assembly will elect her to a full term in the Regular Session in January 2021.”
“Everyone loves her, and I think she would be a great judge,” Edwards said at the time.
Later that month, a group of Roanoke Valley Republican lawmakers, including Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, also voiced support for Friedman.
“She’s a qualified attorney and we hope that the legislature can quickly fulfill this responsibility by electing her,” Suetterlein said in August, but the election process stalled during the special session. Judicial candidates typically come before a panel of legislators for in-person interviews, then judges are elected by the full legislature.
Friedman graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin, then Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1984, and clerked for U.S. District Court Judges Edward Johnstone and James Turk. She was admitted to practice law in the Roanoke area in 1987 and, with attorney Tony Anderson, founded the firm Anderson & Friedman, which concentrates on criminal defense.
Staff writer Amy Friedenberger contributed to this report.