PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A local top prosecutor is moving up within the judicial system. Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle Mobley will change his title to Judge. It’s a move Mobley has a personal passion for.
Mobley first ran for Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2001, and since then he’s witnessed the inhumane way people treat each other. He’s also a devoted family man, one of humility, who’s felt personal tragedy. And in totality, his experiences have prepared him to be a Juvenile Domestic Relations Judge. Many say it’s the best judicial bench for Mobley — and he agrees.
In November 2001, Earle Mobley became the first Republican elected to a constitutional office in Portsmouth since the Civil War. He did it by building bridges.
“This win today is not about one part of the city,” Mobley told WAVY.com after winning the election on November 7, 2001. “It is about the whole range of the city, and everybody in it. African-Americans and Caucasians, and people from all walks of life.”
That was almost 13 years ago, a moment Mobley preserves in a framed picture from his swearing-in ceremony, his son, John, on his lap. He took office and immediately got a capital murder conviction against Eric Vickers for beating to death a child in his care.
“I think that set the tone for us,” Mobley told WAVY.com. “We are going to be about prosecuting violent crimes, and protecting children, and I think we have done that.”
Mobley knows a lot about protecting children, and he brings that to his new job as Portsmouth’s next Juvenile Domestic Relations Judge.
“So many young people go down the wrong path,” he said. “It is my intent to curb some of that. The vast majority of crime in Portsmouth is done by people 16 to 24 years old. If I can do something to slow that, then I will.”
Mobley is also tempered by personal tragedy, which is the loss of his beloved daughter Rebekah, who died of leukemia in 1993. She was almost three years old. 21 years later, Mobley’s voice still changes when he remembers her. It is quiet, wavering, emotional, a voice filled with love.
“I see all the promise that a young person has, and the innocence, and then I see what happens when they go down the wrong path. That is the challenge that I have,” he said.
Perhaps it is that tragedy, that loss, that love that best qualifies Earle Mobley to be a judge in a court that takes care of children.
“I think, when I see a child that is injured, abused, or is killed, I think that is when [Rebekah’s death] comes back the most,” he said.
If you are ever in Mobley’s court, this is what you get from the man who is a dad. Advice to struggling parents.
“People make mistakes. You can’t let those mistakes define you,” he said. “We get second and third chances all the time. Kids are a very forgiving lot. If you turn the corner and try to be a better parent, then I think your kids will respect you for it.”
Mobley’s last day as Commonwealth’s Attorney is November 30. He will be sworn in as judge on Dec.1. His chief deputy, Mary Lester, will take over the office until a special election is held.