In memory and honor of Judge John Samuel Johnston, Jr., a judge in the 24th circuit for over 31 years, Campbell County will display flags at half-mast from Wednesday, December 14 through Friday, December 16.
Judge Johnston was 30 years old when first appointed to Campbell County’s General District Court in 1977, the youngest district judge at that time in Virginia. Elevated to the circuit court at the age of 34, he served as the youngest circuit judge in Virginia.
Remembered for his keen grasp of language, witty humor, intellect, warm rapport with friends and strangers, literary accomplishments, and love of nature, Judge Johnston became a figure of respect and admiration throughout the locality.
He is fondly remembered for his fairness by those in the law community, jurors and even those who came under his sentencing. He enjoyed teaching and sparking judicial interest and community service in younger generations.
Johnston notably served on Governor Robb's task force to combat drunk driving and Governor Wilder's commission for parole and sentencing reform; he was also a charter member of the Virginia Sentencing Commission. Judge Johnston often served as a guest presenter, lecturer, and instructor to groups and bar associations across the country and shared friendships with authors Mickey Spillane (creator of Mike Hammer) Lewis Grizzard (noted Southern humorist), and Bobby Lee Cook (the Georgia attorney who inspired the Matlock series). His own book, Why Judges Wear Robes, is a local favorite, and filled with humorous stories from serving in a courtroom for many years.
A key accomplishment in his career was the construction of the new courthouse (1991) in Rustburg to not only protect victims of crime, but also ensure more effective spaces and technologies for presenting legal cases.
The Campbell County Board of Supervisors, staff and residents extend sympathies at the loss of this local, beloved public figure and express gratitude for his service, his commitment to justice and the many smiles he brought to the community.