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James Dandridge Halyburton (February 23, 1803 – January 26, 1879) was a United States federal judge.

Born in New Kent County, Virginia, Halyburton attended the University of Virginia School of Law and received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1823. He entered private practice in New Kent County in 1824, also serving briefly as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He was a Commonwealth's attorney of the New Kent Circuit until 1844.

Judicial service[]

On June 15, 1844, Halyburton was nominated by President John Tyler to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia vacated by John Y. Mason. Halyburton was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 15, 1844, and received his commission the same day. However, he resigned his federal judgeship April 24, 1861 to become a judge of the District of Virginia for the Confederate States of America, the day Virginia passed its Ordinance of Secession (the actual legal language by which the seceded states attempted to sever their connection with the Federal Union).

Although the Confederate Constitution provided for a Supreme Court, one was never established, largely because of political disagreements. In the absence of a chief judge, Halyburton, as ranking judge of the Confederate capital, swore in Jefferson Davis at Davis's second inauguration, February 22, 1862. (Davis had been first sworn in as president February 22, 1861, under the CSA provisional constitution).

Post-war activities[]

After the Civil War, Halyburton returned to private practice in Richmond, Virginia from 1865 to 1874, with his brother-in-law Thomas Giles. Halyburton's wife was Ann Elizabeth Giles, the daughter of William Branch Giles, who was a member of the first three U.S. Congresses, a U.S. Senator and the Governor of Virginia.

During this period Halyburton became one of the first professors in the law school of Richmond College. The school was established at the University of Richmond in 1870, at the recommendation of a committee of Trustees. Halyburton, along with Dr. J.L.M Curry, and Judge William Green were the first faculty members.

He died in Richmond, Virginia.


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