'His legacy is in all of us’: Colleagues remember longtime Petersburg judge

'His legacy is in all of us’: Colleagues remember longtime Petersburg judge

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Colleagues are remembering the legacy of a longtime Petersburg judge who was found dead in a home Friday night.

“It doesn’t seem real,” former Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Conover said, while sitting in front of the Petersburg Circuit Court building - a place that Judge James D’Alton came to serve for years.

Judge James D’Alton and former Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Conover.
Judge James D’Alton and former Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Conover. (Source: Cassandra Conover)

“I was called the night of, and I was in disbelief. And I think I’m still in a shock, I still get emotional about it.”

Petersburg police say they responded to the 1700 block of Westover Ave around 8:45 p.m. Friday, and found the body of a man inside one of the houses.

“There were all kind of police cars here, so we checked out and they were at Judge D’Alton’s house, that he had passed away,” said neighbor Nelson Ramsey.

Conover remembers how Judge D’Alton helped her after she moved to Petersburg from Lynchburg.

“I came here in 1989 as an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, and I was assigned to his court in general district. I knew absolutely nobody here in Petersburg. I studied him so that I would know what he wanted in his court. Judge D’Alton was about fairness, but also about preparation.”

D’Alton was retired – but still working as a substitute judge.

Conover calls him the personification of ‘professionalism,’ adding that he remains in spirit, in those that looked to him as an influence.

“His legacy is in all of us walking around who practiced before him because he’s made every one of us a better person and a better lawyer," Conover said.

Petersburg police have not yet released the official cause of death.

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