- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Senior U.S. District Judge James H. Michael Jr., who served 14 years in the Virginia Senate before being appointed to the bench by President Carter, died Aug. 29 in Charlottesville after a brief illness, court officials said. He was 86.

Judge Michael, a World War II Navy veteran, moved from the state legislature to the federal judiciary in 1980. He assumed senior status in 1995.

A longtime acquaintance said he will best remember Judge Michael for his inspiring Fourth of July speeches at the annual naturalization ceremony at Thomas Jefferson’s estate just outside Charlottesville.

“He was never in better form than on the steps of Mr. Jefferson’s Monticello, talking to newly minted citizens about what it means to be an American,” said A.E. “Dick” Howard, a University of Virginia law professor. “How appropriate that a man of his accomplishments should be there trying to convey to new citizens what it should mean to be one of us. His message was always one of inclusion. He celebrated what we have in common, and I think that’s what his life was about.”

Judge Michael, a Charlottesville native, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1940 and from the university’s law school in 1942 before entering the Navy. He served in the Southwest Pacific Theater and rose to the rank of lieutenant before his 1946 discharge. He was a founding member and past commanding officer of the Charlottesville unit of the U.S. Naval Reserve.

He maintained a law practice from 1946 until 1980. He also served as an associate judge in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court from 1954 until 1967 and was a member of the Charlottesville School Board from 1951 until 1962.

Judge Michael was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1967 and served as chairman of the Code Commission. He was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1973. “He was a distinguished and brilliant legislator,” said state Sen. Charles J. Colgan, Prince William Democrat, who was a freshman senator during Judge Michael’s final term.

“He was one of the most influential people in the Senate — somewhat liberal in his view, but he was very constitutional-oriented.”

Judge Michael was a longtime member of Christ Episcopal Church, where he was on the vestry. He also was on the Board of Trustees of the Church Schools of the Diocese of Virginia.

Survivors include two daughters, Jarrett Michael Stephens of Irvington, Va., and Victoria von der Au Michael of Richmond; and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Puryear Michael.

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