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Appeal to the Voters of Wise County: Support the Tesla of Court Clerks: J. Jack Kennedy!

I once had the privilege and honor to speak about appeals to the Wise County Bar at their Bench and Bar Conference and I heard about the nearly complete automation of the Clerk’s Office of the county.  An attorney that is on the list to do so (and all the Wise County Bar members were ex officio on the list to do this) could file a lawsuit – provided he had enough on his account to do so – electronically.  No trip to the courthouse.  No time lost – can now be applied to other clients.  I described the Wise County Clerk as a Tesla (that’s the Serb not the car although I have stock in Tesla right now!) of court clerks.

So when I just discovered from a lawyer in Wise County that J. Jack Kennedy – has opposition in the general election this year, I let him know I’d help.  The state board of elections indicates the opponent is a Republican, although this article says he’s an independent.  (Kennedy is a Democrat but I am not a member of any Republican Committee so I can support whoever I want!)  I want more people, including my readers, to know more about this amazing and visionary leader.

I would tell my readers that Wise County is a leader in computerized court systems.  Kennedy was honored recently by the Virginia legislature with this resolution.  A few highlights (thanks to the Virginia Coalition for Open Government for this hat tip):

WHEREAS, the Clerk of Circuit Court for Wise County and the City of Norton has been a recognized leader in judicial information technology development relating to subscriber-based remote real estate document access and judicial administration and attorney access to digital civil and criminal case files originating within the court service area; and


WHEREAS, members of the Wise County and Norton Bar Association have been utilizing remote access to digital civil and criminal case files over the past year, reducing the time and effort associated with locating and reviewing paper files; and


WHEREAS, the Clerk of Circuit Court for Wise County and the City of Norton has provided digital court file access to the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Court of Appeals of Virginia, the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, the Virginia Department of Corrections Probation and Parole offices, the Virginia Department of Social Services Child Support and Enforcement, the Virginia Southwest Regional Drug Task Force, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County and Norton City, and the Virginia Attorney General; and

WHEREAS, the governmental agencies and private attorneys with professional need to access digital civil and criminal court files from the Clerk of Circuit Court in Wise County and the City of Norton have found the service to be cost effective in these austere fiscal times; and

WHEREAS, the Clerk of Circuit Court and its exemplary staff have been previously recognized for their outstanding achievements by the Supreme Court of Virginia Office of the Executive Secretary, the Virginia Innovation Technology Symposium with two Governor’s Technology Awards, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, the National Association of Counties, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, and others; now, therefore, be it…

Kennedy has not stopped there.  My research shows that he is involved in one of the first commercial use of drones in at least Virginia and maybe the US:

The drone operator, startup Flirtey — which already conducts deliveries-by-drone in New Zealand, where laws allow the practice — called it a “Kitty Hawk moment” in a Twitter post on Friday. It was the first drone delivery approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.


Patients in Wise County sorely needed the packages of medicine and supplies, said Jack Kennedy, who spearheaded the partnership with Flirtey. The medicine is typically delivered by car, Kennedy said, over a bumpy 90-minute journey from a supplying pharmacy.

Kennedy believes that drone use can be an economic shot in the arm for Wise and Southwest VA:

Kennedy dreams of turning Wise County into the central hub for American drone “training, application development and manufacturing,” he told NBC News. As the FAA continues to develop legislation governing drones, Kennedy sees an opportunity for Wise to set itself apart before the drone industry is fully formed.

“I’m convincing my friends and neighbors and anyone who will listen to my evangelical message locally that this is something that can exponentially grow over time,” Kennedy said. “This is as much of an opportunity as the Internet when it first started. We can be there early.”

And the Tesla of Wise County is not finished with that:  He’s involved in Virginia’s space exploration effort in that he sits on the board of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.  Virginia’s Wallops Island site can be operational for commercial space flight (maybe even manned flight but certainly payloads and satellites) now and in the future.  Here’s an article from USA Today:

Advocates for reusable rockets say they would considerably cut the costs of space missions. They envision such flights taking off by the end of the decade.

Jack Kennedy, a member of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, pushed the Maryland and Virginia legislatures to support the change to the environmental review.

“We are at the dawn of the age of reusability,” said Kennedy, the clerk of the circuit court in Wise County and a former state lawmaker. “It’s like reusing a jet going from one coast of the country to the other. The same thing could happen with launch craft.”

Kennedy seems like a tireless, visionary public servant who wants to use innovative methods and technology to make his region and state more competitive.  I would respectfully urge the voters in Wise County to re-elect him their Clerk of the Circuit Court in November.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “Appeal to the Voters of Wise County: Support the Tesla of Court Clerks: J. Jack Kennedy!”

  1. Ollie Roberts

    I completely agree that drones are going to grow exponentially, we are already seeing it with the number of applications the FAA are processing. We crunched the numbers of drone operators that have been issued section 333 exemptions based from the official FAA list, at August there were over 1300 operators up from 41 in March. Wise would be smart to get involved now, and ride the wave up.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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