Joseph L. Kelly


Joseph L. Kelly

Joseph L. Kelly (March 4, 1867April 14, 1925) was born at Marion in Smyth County, Virginia. His primary education was received in the local schools. In 1881, he entered Emory and Henry College, receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1886 and the Master of Arts degree shortly thereafter. He entered the University of Virginia Law School in 1887 and received the LL. B. degree in 1889. After graduation, he began law practice at Gate City, Scott County, Virginia, in association with Rufus A. Ayers, a former Attorney General of Virginia. They both moved to Big Stone Gap a few years later and continued to practice together until 1895, when Judge Kelly entered into partnership with Joshua Fry Bullitt, Jr. In 1898, he moved to Bristol and the firm maintained offices in both Bristol and Big Stone Gap. Appointed to the Corporation Court of Bristol, in 1909, Judge Kelly held this position until September 1914, when he was elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. He assumed his duties on that court in January 1914, and was elected president of the court in January 1920. He served until January 31, 1924. At that time, he resigned from the court and returned to practice, opening an office in Lynchburg. When Judge Frederick W. Sims died in February 1925, Judge Kelly was named to the Supreme Court again. He sat with the court during the March term, 1925 but died shortly there after in an accident in his home at Bristol, Virginia.


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