Cunningham announces retirement

Published 2:54 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016

After almost 20 years on the bench, Circuit Court Judge Joel C. Cunningham will officially retire on April 1.

“I will miss providing justice,” Cunningham said. He primarily serves in the counties of Charlotte and Halifax in the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Cunningham said every day that he puts on the robe he feels honored to be entrusted to provide justice to the counties that he serves. 

According to Cunningham, he was originally sworn in as judge of 10th District of the General District Court in 1997.

In 2009, Cunningham became the first African-American appointed as circuit court judge in the 10th Circuit.

“I’m going to miss working with such great professionals,” said Cunningham. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them.”

Cunningham reminisced on one of the most memorable moments he had as judge — the first day he took the bench in Charlotte County. “I was awed by the history in the circuit court,” he said. “The Charlotte County Circuit Court is truly a historic place.”

Cunningham graduated from Virginia State University in 1970 and from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975.

He married his wife, Evelyn, in 1968, and they have four children, Joel Jr., Pam, Cindi and Joy.

While providing justice has been a wonderful opportunity for Cunningham, he looks forward to spending more time with his family during retirement.

Cunningham said he will use the free time to play golf and pursue his hobbies of gardening and managing honey bees.

Cunningham will continue to occasionally sit and hear cases, he said.

The 10th Judicial Circuit of Virginia encompasses the counties of Charlotte, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Prince Edward.