An attorney from Slate Mills who has practiced law in Rappahannock County for 14 years is the newly appointed judge to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for Rappahannock, Fauquier, and Loudoun counties.
Working as a social services lawyer has been “very meaningful,” says Melissa Cupp. “You can really make a lot of difference in kids’ lives and in family’s lives in that kind of work.”
Cupp’s appointment was finalized February 25, and she will take the bench on July 1 to replace retiring Judge Jonathan S. Lynn, 68, who was appointed to the bench in 2011. Prior to becoming a judge, Lynn spent 25 years as Fauquier County’s commonwealth’s attorney and earlier practiced law in Warrenton.
Cupp will join the circuit’s two other Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judges Pamela L. Brooks and Avelina S. Jacob.
A partner in the law firm of Baumgardner, Brown & Cupp in the town of Washington, and of-counsel to the Fredericksburg firm Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, Cupp has handled hundreds of Department of Social Services cases in several jurisdictions, earning a reputation has a strong advocate for children and families.
“When kids are abused or neglected, I represent local departments in court proceedings, including emergency and preliminary removal hearings, adjudication and disposition hearings and adoption proceedings,” says Cupp. “When an adult becomes incompetent or needs protection, I represent local departments in petitioning the court for adult protective services and the appointment of guardians and conservators.”
She says she has seen significant changes over the years in the way social services departments and courts handle the problems of kids and families. One such trend is toward “trauma-informed communities,” using a tool to assess the level of trauma kids have experienced.
“I’ve really seen a big change in the awareness of trauma and how it affects kids,” says Cupp. “The counseling community is becoming informed and trained about the impacts of trauma and learning how to better meet children’s needs.”
Cupp lives in Slate Mills with her husband and two children.