Thomas Jefferson


Barbara Gaden was appointed to the bench of the Civil Division of the Richmond General District Court in April, 2001, serving as Chief Judge of the Court from 2008 to 2010. In summer of 2011, she was elected as the first female President of the Association of District Court Judges, a service organization representing the nearly 300 active and retired district court judges of the Commonwealth. In addition to her long service on the Executive Committee of the Association, she has served as Honorary Chair of the Richmond Bench-Bar Conference, and as a member of the Supreme Court’s District Court Forms Committee. She is a regular moot court judge for the Virginia CLE Trial Advocacy School in Charlottesville, for the Bridge-the-Gap seminar, and is a frequent speaker at legal conferences, including recent panels on professionalism and civil practice in the District Court.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Gaden had a wide-ranging litigation practice for eighteen years. She served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Trial Section of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and worked for the firm now known as Reed, Smith. She practiced in state and federal courts throughout the Commonwealth and represented both plaintiffs and defendants in constitutional, civil rights, tort and contract cases. In the last few years before joining the bench she established her own practice, including criminal defense and acting as special counsel to the Attorney General’s Office in two major federal cases involving interstate commerce. She was a cooperating attorney with Housing Opportunities Made Equal, achieving a landmark settlement in a racial discrimination housing case.

A native of New York, Judge Gaden graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 1983. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School with a performance major in cello, and subsequently worked in the classical music business, including a year as Director of Public Relations for the Louisville Orchestra and five years running her own concert management firm in New York City, the last three while also attending law school. A current member of Local 123 of the American Federation of Musicians, she remains a professional cellist who, since 1993, has been a member of the Richmond Symphony. She has also been heard in occasional solo performances, including a 1996 recital at the University of Richmond’s Perkinson Recital Hall and Chrysler Museum in Norfolk.

Judge Gaden is married to attorney John Mann and has three grown step-daughters. In her spare time, Judge Gaden is an avid horseback rider and enjoys needlework arts.