Jarvis would know. He’s described as an intellectual and a Renaissance man who spends time working on antique motorcycles, cooking Italian or barbecue and learning new techniques for Irish melodies on the violin.
But most of all, colleagues say, Jarvis’s affability and likability outside the courtroom are trumped by his fairness and ethical compass inside it.
On Friday, the Prince William courthouse played host to Jarvis’s formal investiture. He donned the black robe for the first time and took the oath in front of a packed courtroom, which included fellow church members, prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement members and family members.
Jarvis, 49, came in just before the start of the ceremony and looked at the packed courtroom; many people couldn’t find a seat.
“Wow,” he mouthed.
When he took the podium, he said he wasn’t quite sure how to describe the moment of ascending to one of the top rungs of the legal profession.
“This is one of those times where even the verbose can be speechless,” he told the crowd.
In an interview Thursday, Jarvis reflected on a career that he said he carved from an unlikely road. He grew up relatively poor. His late father, Herbert, could not work after being badly injured in World War II. Jarvis always had a job — landscaping, painting, working construction and the like — to help pay the bills.
And although he was someone with many interests, which didn’t really manifest themselves in academics until he attended Old Dominion University, Jarvis was a low-level trouble and mischief-maker.
As he cautiously related the tale about his run-in with the tow truck company, which towed his car despite his pleas, he didn’t admit guilt. He said instead: “All I can say is, the next day, that tow company may have been missing a number of [metal framed] signs.”
Jarvis, the youngest of five children, was a serious athlete and had a mind that constantly wandered to various pursuits in high school, but “one of them wasn’t academics,” he said.
His stance toward academics changed at Old Dominion, where he finished with two degrees, in philosophy and criminal justice, in four years.
“As soon as it was on me, it was fine,” he said of school. “It was people telling me I had to do it that I had a problem with it.”
His mother, Katherine Jarvis, said she taught her children that if you had little money, the only way to succeed was through education. Still, she worried about her youngest son; his excuses for not doing work were innumerable.
“Even as a little tiny kid, he had very, very powerful reasoning and logic,” Katherine Jarvis, 78, said.