Federal judge retires and heads to Taiwan

Turning his back on a lifetime appointment, U.S. district judge Sam Wilson of the Western District of Virginia has decided to take his talents to Taiwan.

On Sunday, the Roanoke Times reported that Wilson had resigned from the federal bench. Wilson’s retirement will be effective as of Aug. 1, one day after he turns 65.

Wilson became the youngest person to hold a federal judgeship in the Western District of Virginia when President George H.W. Bush appointed him in 1990. In his retirement letter, Wilson wrote that “power is best left unused.” The appointment was the culmination of a rapid career rise for Wilson, who started out in as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Virginia in 1974. Wilson, who earned his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law, also served as an assistant U.S. attorney, a U.S. magistrate judge and a private-practice lawyer at Woods Rogers.

While many judges take senior status upon turning 65, Wilson has decided not to do so. In an interview with the Roanoke Times, Wilson said he intended to teach American criminal law at National Taiwan University in Taipei. Wilson said that he made his decision to go there after reconnecting with an old friend who grew up in Taiwan and had contacts at NTU. “Going somewhere different and taking on a challenge is kind of my way of easing out of it,” Wilson said in an interview with the Roanoke Times last week. “I suppose one of the reasons I’m leaving is I think it’s important to put power down and see the world the way everyone else sees it.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.