Two weeks to the day after his election, Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford took the oath of office last week, pledging to serve the county for the next three years.
The brief event took place in Nelson County Circuit Court in front of what Judge Michael Garrett called a large “cheering section” for the county’s new chief prosecutor. Garrett added the ceremony marked “a momentous occasion.”
The event was a family affair, with generations of the Rutherfords represented. Friends from around the Central Virginia area, along with others who currently work in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, also attended.
“It was great,” Rutherford said of the swearing-in ceremony. “I’ve taken a lot of oaths for offices to be a lawyer, and this one was just very nice … It’s a fulfillment of things I’ve been wanting to do: to be able to prosecute for Nelson. It was nice having family and friends here. It was great having so many people come out and support me.”
Rutherford was sworn in using a family Bible that dates back to the 1800s.
Rutherford came out on top in a special election Nov. 8 with 3,122 votes, defeating independent Heather Goodwin, who received 2,744 votes, and Democrat Jerry Gress, who received 2,090 votes. Gress served as interim commonwealth’s attorney since the end of February following the resignation of Anthony Martin, who took a position in a Charlottesville law firm.
The term Martin briefly started and Rutherford has stepped is through Dec. 31, 2019.
The commonwealth’s attorney prosecutes misdemeanor and felony cases for the county and the commonwealth of Virginia in juvenile and domestic relations, general district and circuit courts.
Following the ceremony, Rutherford expressed gratitude for his wife, Kate, and other family in attendance, calling them “the bedrock of who I am and what I do.”
Rutherford’s four children also attended the ceremony. Because they’re all under 10 years old, he said they don’t fully understand his new position yet, but he’s aiming to help them understand the underlying principles he espouses as commonwealth’s attorney.
“I’m trying to teach my kids it isn’t about who’s being charged but seeking justice and helping your neighbors,” he said.
“My goal is to exactly what we’ve been called to: to seek justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. That’s what my pledge is to the citizens of Nelson County,” he said at the end of the ceremony.
As guests dispersed, he reflected on both this year’s campaign and that of 2011, when he was defeated by Martin.
“This has been a long time coming,” Rutheford said. “I wanted to do this in 2011, and I’m glad that I now have the opportunity.”
Rutherford officially turned over his Lovingston firm to his former associate Peter Frazier last Tuesday, as well.