A state court judge who reportedly found some jewelry in a Walmart parking lot, then became angry when a clerk wouldn’t give him a receipt for it, was arrested in Stafford County, Va., and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery.
Jeffrey W. Parker, 65, is the chief circuit court judge in Fauquier County, Va., and also sits on the bench in Loudoun and Rappahannock counties. He has been on the bench since 2001. His lawyer, Robin C. Gulick, said Friday that he had no comment on the case, though he noted that it was Parker who called 911 and asked for police assistance.
A spokesman for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said the dispute occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Walmart on Route 17 north of Fredericksburg. Deputies spoke first to Parker, who told them that after finding jewelry in the parking lot, he took it to the customer service desk and asked for a receipt “or something in writing … so that he could return and claim the items if the rightful owner was not found,” Maj. Donald R. Lenhart of the sheriff’s office said.
The clerk apparently declined the judge’s request. The clerk told the deputies she was going to put the jewelry in the store safe in case the rightful owner returned, Lenhart said. Both the clerk and other Walmart employees told deputies that “Parker got aggravated and aggressive when the clerk would not provide a receipt,” and that “Parker then reached across the counter and grabbed her hand, causing her hand to hurt,” Lenhart said.
The clerk told deputies that she was afraid of Parker and that she wanted to pursue charges against him, so the judge was taken into custody, Lenhart said. Parker was taken to a magistrate’s office, charged with assault and battery and released without being jailed on an unsecured bond.
Walmart has no corporate policy on whether finders are keepers on store property, said Charles Crowson, a Walmart spokesman. Lost and found policy is left to the individual stores.
Parker was reelected to a third eight-year term by the Virginia General Assembly in January. His salary is about $166,000, according to a recent study by the National Center for State Courts. It was not immediately clear whether his status as a judge would be affected by his arrest.
Parker told FauquierNow.com in December, as his reelection was being considered, that he was considering retiring before the end of his eight-year term. He said he had health issues, such as severe back and hip problems. “It hasn’t been easy,” Parker said. “I’m still struggling through it.”
As carried in WTP