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Local U.S. district judge dies

By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

Federal District Court Judge James Turk passed away on Sunday, July 6, according to an announcement from De Vilbiss Funeral Home.

Turk died at his home in Radford, where he operated his own private practice from 1952 to 1972, according to his entry in the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. That same year, President Richard Nixon nominated him to sit on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Prior to 1972, he was a member of the Virginia State Senate from 1959, and was also a minority leader from 1965. Turk assumed senior status in 2002, and served as chief judge from 1973 until 1993.

The United States Attorney’s Office expressed their condolences for Turk’s passing.

“For forty years, Judge Turk worked tirelessly to ensure that the federal judicial system in this District was fair and unbiased,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said Monday. “He brought a level of civility and common courtesy to the bench – qualities that endeared him to the lawyers in this office and all those who practiced before him.”

Heaphy also said that Turk also traditionally shook hands with defendants after their cases had concluded, which he described as a manifestation of essential humanity, citing his ability to see the good in all people regardless of circumstance.

“For that quality, above all others, Judge Turk will always be remembered,” he said.

Turk’s two sons have also pursued careers in law, for which both have been locally prolific. His oldest son, Jimmy Turk, is a defense attorney in Montgomery County, while his younger son, Bobby Turk, was appointed as a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge in 2000.

Funeral arrangements for Turk have not been announced at this time.

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