New Judge in Virginia Beach: Scott Flax

The Honorable Scott Joseph Flax was sworn in on May 1 to begin his eight-year term as a Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit Court. He is the third Jewish circuit court judge to be appointed in Virginia Beach, following the Honorable Jerry Friedman and Honorable Alan Rosenblatt. Flax’s formal investiture occurred on June 7 in a courtroom filled with 300 friends, family members, and former colleagues.

Most judgeships begin on July 1, with Judge School offered in April and June for this reason. However, a vacancy opened, and Flax was nominated and chosen for the position. In advance of his swearing-in, Flax spent time in court during March and April, sitting next to a judge and asking questions to prepare for his tenure. “I had an idea of the terms from my experience in civil and family law,” Flax says. 

Since the cases in circuit court are complex, Flax says he can take time to conduct research and ask both parties to reconvene later for his final decision. He presides over a variety of cases, including felonies, lawsuits for more than $25,000, and divorce.

Flax obtained his undergraduate degree in government and politics from University of Maryland and his law degree from American University Washington College of Law. For 19 years, the Tidewater native was an attorney with Tavss Fletcher in Norfolk.

A recent past board president of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, Flax says it’s important to him to give back to the community. “All walks of life come through the courtroom. Some have high- powered attorneys and others represent themselves.” Sitting as a judge gives him a different perspective, he says, as he is empathetic to both the plaintiff and the defendant. As a judge, he says, “You accept the responsibility to do your best in making these choices.”

During the formal investiture, Flax’s wife, Leah, and their three children helped put on his judicial robe. Two former law partners, John Fletcher and Besianne Maiden of Tavss Fletcher, spoke. Delegate Don Scott read the governor’s proclamation, and his friend, Aaron Kass participated in the ceremony by sharing some words to ground the event in Flax’s Jewish faith.

“This is an excellent time for this, as next week is Shavuot which commemorates God giving the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai,” said Kass.

“And it reminds us of the admonition from Deuteronomy – Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue.

“Justice is found throughout the Torah. 

“In the Talmud, in a tractate called Perkei Avot, it says:

“‘Do not as a judge play the part of an advocate, and when the litigants are standing before you, look upon them as if they were guilty; and when they leave your presence, look upon them as if they were innocent, when they have accepted the judgement.

“‘Focusing, of course, on the proper role of a judge on the one hand, and the need for parties to respect the Court’s rulings on the other hand.’”