Tuesday arraignment for Judge Jeffrey Parker lasts two minutes
By John McCaslin and Patty Hardee
Rappahannock News staff
A trial date of Oct. 19 has been set for chief Rappahannock County Circuit Court judge Jeffrey W. Parker, who stands accused of assaulting a Walmart store employee on Sept. 6 north of Fredericksburg.
The 65-year-old judge appeared for his arraignment Tuesday morning before Judge J. Bruce Strickland in Stafford County General District Court. After announcing the October trial date, Judge Strickland wished Judge Parker good luck.
A Fauquier Now reporter who was in the courtroom for the two-minute long proceeding said the accused judge was dressed in a gray suit and appeared “relaxed.”
Parker faces up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500 if convicted on the misdemeanor charge.
Parker’s Warrenton-based attorney, Robin C. Gulick, who as a founding member of the law firm Gulick, Carson & Thorpe partly focuses his practice on criminal trials and appeals, appeared with his client at Tuesday’s arraignment. He did not return this newspaper’s telephone call yesterday.
The judge had told an arresting Stafford County sheriff’s deputy that he had found some jewelry in the parking lot of the Walmart, located on Rt. 17. The judge said he turned the jewelry into the store’s service desk and asked the clerk for written documentation of the merchandise so he could claim it if the owner was not found.
When the clerk refused to provide a receipt, Parker allegedly reached across the counter and grabbed her hand so hard that it hurt, according to the sheriff’s office. The judge was arrested by deputy J.J. Bryan, taken to the magistrate, charged with assault and battery, and released on an unsecured bond.
Parker has served on the circuit courts of Rappahannock, Fauquier and Loudoun counties since 2001. During that time he has presided over both low and high-profile cases.
In 2002, he ruled against Rappahannock County and overturned then-County Administrator John McCarthy’s determination that a brewery’s “beer tastings” were in violation of the county’s zoning ordinance. Parker compared beer tastings to offering customers of a farm stand a slice of a tomato.
More recently, he presided over David Konick vs. the Town of Washington in connection with the “Town Square Beautification” project. The suit asked the court to invalidate several actions taken by the town council in 2013 as part of the project’s partnership with the Inn at Little Washington and Trinity Episcopal Church.
This past January, the Virginia General Assembly re-appointed Parker to his third eight-year term on the bench. That said, the judge has experienced poor health, including back and hip problems. He has let it be known that he has considered early retirement.
His trial on Thursday, Oct. 19, will begin at 10 a.m.