Norfolk Judge Joe Lindsey, former delegate, returns to roots with district court judge appointment

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Former Norfolk and Virginia Beach Del. Joe Lindsey, who represented the 90th District in the House of Delegates, recently resigned from his position to take an appointment as a general district court judge in Norfolk.

Here’s a look at Lindsey’s life and career that led him to the judge position.

The track to the Norfolk General District Court began with a T-bone crash years ago.

“I got T-boned by a car going at a high rate of speed,” he said. 

At the time, Lindsey was a senior at Booker T. Washington High School. It was 10 p.m. coming through E. Princess Anne and Bolton Street. 

Then, bam.

“That car was a police car. No sirens activated. No lights. It totaled my car,” Lindsey told 10 On Your Side. 

Lindsey was charged with failure to yield, but it was dropped because he had an advocate: a family attorney. Clear advantage over not having an attorney.

“The lawyer brought out the high rate of speed, the damage to my vehicle, the fact no siren and no lights on,” he said. 

Ever since that defining moment, Lindsey wanted to be an advocate.

“Had I been white or Black without the ability to have legal representation, I would have been rolled over by the system,” Lindsey added. 

Lindsey earned a law degree from American University, and he’s been on both sides.

“I’ve been a prosecutor, a chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney,” he said. 

For 16 years, he was a substitute judge in district courts and juvenile domestic relations courts all over Hampton Roads.

“The more important social concern is looking at what that dynamic is, that lack of education, the lack of opportunity, the things that cause a festering,” he said. 

Election 2020

After spending years in court, the prize of all came to Lindsey in 2014 when he won the trust of the people to serve in the House of Delegates.

“Having all my awareness and training from the past, but dealing with each advocate, and each case on a case-by-case basis,” he said. 

As a member of the House of Delegates, Lindsey was one of the architects of this year’s historic election.

When Lindsey left the House of Delegates, he was chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee and had a lot to do with how the elections played out this year.

“I was also so proud of how we made voting easier,” he told 10 On Your Side, sitting in a chair at the Decker Law Firm.   

Thanks in part to Lindsey as chairman of the committee the General Assembly passed a new law permitting no-excuse early voting.

“No excuse early voting was very important, and this election proved that to be true,” he said.

No excuse early voting worked in Virginia, which was one of 38 states and Washington D.C. to allow it.

“Nationally and internationally, if you give people an easier opportunity to vote they will do just that, vote.”

In Virginia, millions took the opportunity. Roughly 61% of total votes cast occurred before Election Day.

“We advocated for drop boxes, made it so we had no excuse early voting, we made it easier for people to do voting by mail, and not have the draconian rules to get signatures and witnesses on absentee ballots.” 

In Virginia, there was a 74.6% voter turnout that’s over 4.4 million votes. A modern day high.

“I’ve always wanted access to the voter boxes, to get rid of the suppressions activity that kept people from being able to vote,” he said. 

Lindsey worked to get more funding for voter registrar’s offices.

“We did something we hadn’t done before. We made sure the money was there to help the registrar’s transition to the 21st century.”

Lindsey also made Election Day a state holiday and made it easier to vote, not harder.

“There are political reasons factions are empowered to make it difficult to vote because they realize by making it more difficult there was a great likelihood they will preserve their political fiefdoms,” he said. 

Onward

The greatest compliment of all: Republicans and Democrats, Delegates and state senators all agreed Lindsey should be the next Norfolk General District Court judge.

“I am most concerned in having a listening ear, and making certain people who come before the court — whether I rule in their favor or rule against them — that they feel like they had a say in the outcome.”

That meant turning off the lights at the law firm and resigning from the House of Delegates.

However, he’ll be taking all of those experiences to be a district court judge.

That is Lindsey, looking back from whence he came. 


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