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After 18 years on the bench, well-respected circuit judge informs governor he will step down next spring.
Circuit Judge William H. Ledbetter Jr., a man of many interests,
has told Gov. Warner he will retire on May 1, 2005.
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Date published: 6/2/2004
By KEITH EPPS
Longtime Circuit Judge William H. Ledbetter Jr. will call it quits next year.
In a letter written Thursday to Gov. Mark Warner and others, the 62-year-old Ledbetter announced that he will retire effective May 1, 2005.
"I enjoy doing what I'm doing very much," Ledbetter said yesterday. "But while you still have a little youth left and are in good health, you just want to do other things."
Ledbetter has been a judge in the 15th Judicial Circuit since 1987. He has presided primarily in Spotsylvania Circuit Court.
He will have served more than 18 years by the time he retires, one of the Fredericksburg area's longest circuit court tenures in recent history.
Ledbetter, who lives in Spotsylvania County, has been nominated for higher courts several times over the years, but came out on the short end of political skirmishes.
Throughout his tenure, attorneys have privately commended Ledbetter for his knowledge of the law and his fairness.
"We hate to lose him," Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely said. "No one knows the law any better than he does, and he's as fair as he can possibly be.
"Those will be some big shoes for someone to fill."
The General Assembly will make the final decision about who will fill Ledbetter's shoes.
Ledbetter is now one of seven circuit judges in the 15th Judicial Circuit, which includes most of the Fredericksburg area, Hanover and the Northern Neck.
But the state legislature has approved an eighth judge for the region starting next year, which means there will be at least two new circuit judges.
Ledbetter said there's a consensus that the eighth judge will spend much of his time in Spotsylvania because of the county's growing dockets.
Stafford is now the only area locality with two regularly sitting circuit judges.
While he will technically be retired, Ledbetter probably will still spend his share of time in the courtroom after next May.
Retired judges are frequently asked to substitute in various localities, and Ledbetter said he will be willing to serve when called upon.
In the meantime, the judge said he will spend more time traveling with his wife, Susan, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
To reach KEITH EPPS: 540/374-5404 firstname.lastname@example.org