There’s no telling how common it is, but circuit court judge Mike McKenney thinks Northumberland High School might be the only one in Virginia with two graduates serving as judges in the same circuit at the same time. McKenney graduated from Northumberland and, when Marcel Jones, Class of 1996, was sworn in as a juvenile court judge on May 15, that made two of them.
Jones, who had practiced law in the Fredericksburg region since earning his degree at Howard University, was already known in the county. He was the hot-handed shooting guard on Northumberland’s state champion basketball team in 1996.
Jones said, Friday, that he decided to apply for the juvenile and domestic relations court judgeship in December and when the General Assembly met he was supported by members from both political parties. Although the assembly was controlled by Democrats, Jones also had support from the Northern Neck’s senators and delegates, all of whom are Republicans. He noted that former delegate Albert Pollard was also helpful to him. He had been Pollard’s first legislative assistant while he attended the University of Richmond.
Jones said he had his first exposure to the law when Northumberland attorney Warren Haynie coached him in recreational league basketball. Later, while in law school, Jones interned for McKenney when McKenney was Northumberland County’s Commonwealths Attorney.
Once he passed the bar, Jones began practicing in the Fredericksburg region. He said that his was a varied practice.
In his new position as juvenile judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit, Jones will get home to Northumberland frequently as he will sit in Northumberland County’s juvenile and domestic relations district court on a regular basis. He will also sit in Lancaster, Westmoreland and King George Counties and other courts in the circuit.
Jones said he stays in touch with his championship teammates Tony Booth and Terrell Diggs. He is married and has three children.
Due to pandemic precautions, Jones was sworn in at a private ceremony. McKenney said he hoped a public event might be arranged when the current restrictions on public gatherings eases.