After 23 years as a practicing attorney, a local man is taking over the post of York-Poquoson Circuit Court judge in what he says is a new chapter in life.
The Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Wednesday to elect Richard Rizk to the bench recently left vacant by Richard AtLee, who was appointed to the Virginia Court of Appeals in January.
Rizk, who was endorsed by the York-Poquoson Bar Association and the Williamsburg Bar Association, interviewed in front of the Courts of Justice Committee on Feb. 23 and was selected to serve an eight-year term two days later.
“It’s a great honor to be considered by your colleagues and the legislators in Richmond,” said Rizk, adding he is excited to serve the community in a different way.
Rizk previously served as assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Williamsburg and James City County and began working in the private sector in 2003, joining the firm of Geddy, Harris, Franck & Hickman LLP in Williamsburg and practicing in the areas of criminal defense, vehicle accidents and DUIs, domestic relations, personal injury and general litigation.
He also served as a substitute judge in the ninth judicial district — which comprises the counties of Charles City, James City, Mathews, York, King William, King and Queen, New Kent and Middlesex and the City of Williamsburg — for 10 years.
Local attorney Ternon G. Lee, who was considered for endorsement by both bar associations, also interviewed for the position.
The judge selection process was speedy compared to the last time the seat was left vacant in 2008, when the General Assembly could not come to a decision on various vacancies.
York-Poquoson Commonwealth’s Attorney Benjamin Hahn, who was worked as lead prosecutor for the office since 2011, called Rizk a well-respected attorney who will make a competent and capable judge.
“Mr. Rizk’s experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney and as a litigator of civil disputes gives him the experience and background that he will need to fairly determine the guilt or innocence of those charged with criminal offenses as well as to adjudicate the complex, competing claims of civil litigant,” Hahn said in an email. “While I have no doubt that there will be many, many disagreements concerning Judge Rizk’s future decisions, I can state without hesitation or fear of contradiction, that we may expect that Judge Rizk will fully and publicly explain how he came to a decision.”
Rizk will serve as the new circuit court judge beginning July 1. In the meantime, substitute judges will rotate sitting on the bench.
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