School of Law celebrates its first alumnus to become a judge
|Will Roach II ('07) is the first Liberty University School of Law graduate to be elected as a judge.|
Will Roach II, a member of Liberty University School of Law’s inaugural graduating class in 2007, was elected General Sessions Judge for Jefferson County, Tenn., in the May 6 Republican Primary. He edged four other candidates to fill the seat vacated by retiring Judge Ben Strand.
“He won by 27 votes (out of more than 8,000 cast) and was announced the winner by the Commissioner,” said Mat Staver, dean of the School of Law, noting the election was certified on Wednesday with no runoff required.
“He becomes the first of what will be many judges to graduate from Liberty University’s School of Law as they seek to restore the rule of law in every aspect of the profession,” added Rena Lindevaldsen, a School of Law professor and associate dean for academic affairs, and associate director of the Liberty Center for Law & Policy.
Roach will handle cases in the juvenile court, criminal court, and probate court, ruling on civil disputes under $25,000 for the county of 56,000 residents located 30 miles northeast of Knoxville.
“It will be a much larger responsibility and a much larger field of ministry,” Roach said. “I have mountains of learning to accomplish between now and Sept. 2,” when he takes the judge’s seat.
He will step down from his managing partner role with Roach, Robinson & Miller, relinquishing his legal duties to David Robinson. Like Roach, Robinson was in the School of Law’s 48-student graduating class of 2007 that also includes Matt Krause, a state representative for Texas elected in October 2012.
Roach originally arrived at Liberty on a full basketball scholarship in 1990, the year the Vines Center opened. He returned to Jefferson City in 1992 to complete his undergraduate degree at Carson-Newman University before enrolling in the School of Law at the age of 32 in 2004, after he and his wife, Heather, had their three children, Destiny (now 16), Isaiah (13), and Eliana (10).
|Will Roach II with his wife, Heather, and children (from left) Destiny, Eliana, and Isaiah.|
“I had a very clear calling from God to go to Liberty University’s School of Law,” said Roach, who received a full scholarship as a member of the first incoming class. “Liberty has been very good to me.”
Roach decided to run for the judge’s seat late last summer after receiving encouragement from family members, friends, clients, and co-workers.
“So many people approached me that I began to think, ‘Maybe the Lord is trying to say something to me,’” Roach said. “I prayed about it for two weeks, sought counsel, and at the end of the two-week period, I prayed the Prayer of Jabez (I Chronicles 4:10). It became very apparent to me that I could not pray that prayer with sincerity if I was not willing to run for the general session judge of my home county.”
He had a few factors working in his favor, first and foremost that his father, Dennis Roach, has served as a Tennessee representative for the past 20 years.
“People knew my father’s name,” Will Roach said. “That was a good start.”
Furthermore, Jefferson County is predominantly Republican territory.
“It’s very conservative, in the Bible Belt, with a very small Democratic population,” Roach said.
He compared his calling to that of Gideon in the Bible and challenged others to respond to the voice of God, even if they feel unqualified.
“Don’t be afraid to be ambitious for the glory of God,” Roach said. “As His children, we must go when called. We don’t choose our direction. Christ does. We choose whether to obey or disobey.”
Roach, who was congratulated by Liberty President Jerry Falwell in his May 10 address at the 41st Commencement, is carrying out the commission of Dr. Jerry Falwell, who died days before his graduation in 2007.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the legacy of the ministry of (Founder) Jerry Falwell and Liberty University,” Roach said. “His dream is being fulfilled. He started Liberty University School of Law for many purposes. One was to equip lawyers to fight against the ACLU. I don’t know if he thought about students being judges. Maybe he did. I hope to be the first of many.”