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First Latino Judge Sworn In at Arlington General District Court

Daniel T. Lopez was ceremonially sworn in last Friday (May 17) as a General District Court judge, becoming the first Latino to serve as a judge in Arlington County.

“I’m very proud to represent my community,” Lopez told ARLnow.

Michael F. Devine, a circuit court judge for the 19th Circuit in Fairfax County, administered the investiture ceremony.

Lopez and his family were joined by members of the Arlington County Bar Association, as well as Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th), who helped shepherd his nomination through the General Assembly.

“I was honored to be on hand with Delegate Hope to present the Commission at the Investiture of Daniel Lopez as a Judge of the General District Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,” said Del. Lopez, who shares a last name with but is not related to the new judge. “Judge Lopez is immensely qualified and a truly wonderful person. If his work over the years as a substitute judge is any indication, he will be an exceptional judge for our community for years to come.”

A 22-year Arlington resident, Judge Lopez had previously served as a substitute judge in the Circuit Court and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts. He said he was delighted to become a full-time judge.

“It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for years,” he said.

Lopez was also pleased to be the first Latino to serve as a judge in Arlington. Judges should reflect the community they serve in, he said, and having a Latino on the bench in such a diverse county was a sign of great progress.

Friday’s investiture ceremony was not Lopez’s official swearing in. That will take place 3o days prior to July 1, when he signs the oath of office and begins his six-year term on the General District Court bench. Lopez will succeed Judge Richard McCue, who is retiring.

“My job is to uphold the Constitution and to be fair and impartial, and make sure everyone is welcomed and respected in the courtroom,” he said.

Lopez grew up in Northern Virginia. His family lived in the Hayfield area of Fairfax County, where he attended Hayfield Elementary and Burgundy Farm Country Day School. After going to Hayfield Secondary School for one year, he transferred to Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria.

In 1996, Lopez graduated from the George Washington University School of Law and began practicing criminal defense and litigation. He went on to co-found the Lopez, Meleen & Sprano law firm and later became a partner at Briglia Hundley, P.C. in Tysons.

Lopez lives in Arlington with his wife, Kathryn Gray, and three children. Since December 2010, he’s been a manager of the South Arlington Soccer Club and was previously a board member of the Arlington Soccer Association.

The General Assembly elected another new judge during its 2019 legislative session to serve Arlington County residents. Trial attorney Judith Wheat will fill the fourth slot on the 17th Circuit Court bench. She will begin her 8-year term on July 1.

Wheat is a managing partner of Griffith & Wheat PLLC in Washington, D.C. and has more than 20 years experience representing individuals and businesses in a variety of litigation, including criminal investigation and defense. She was previously the president of The Barristers and co-chair of the D.C. Bar Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section. She also served as the legal counsel to the Clerk of the Arlington Circuit Court.

Photo 1 courtesy Arlington County Bar Association, photos 2 & 3 courtesy Del. Alfonso Lopez

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