Jim Updike: Jens Soering’s Prosecutor is Now a Judge

Image Credit: The News & Advance

As a documentary series living up to its title in almost every way imaginable, Netflix’s ‘Till Murder Do Us Part: Soering vs. Haysom’ can only be described as equal parts bewildering and intriguing. That’s because it comprises not just archival audio-video footage but also exclusive interviews with key individuals to really shine a light upon the way both Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom and Jens Soering were involved in her parents’ heinous March 30, 1985, double homicide. Amongst those to thus be rather significant in this narrative was actually prosecutor James “Jim” Wilson Updike Jr. — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him, we’ve got you covered.

Who is Jim Updike?

It was reportedly back when Jim was merely a young boy growing up in Bedford County, Virginia, that he first developed a passion for our justice system, only for it to continue expanding as the years passed. The truth is his father was an electrician while his mother primarily served as a homemaker, yet the way he and his brother Ronald were brought up had raised this need within him to give back to his people. He hence enrolled in the University of Virginia for his undergraduate degree as soon as he could, just to then move on to earn his Juris Doctorate from the renowned William & Mary Law School.

That’s actually where Jim really developed his direct, flamboyant, loud, and powerful style, which definitely enabled him to evolve into a prosecutor rather than a civil litigator or a defense attorney. Then comes the fact he was elected as Bedford County’s commonwealth’s attorney following a mere few years of practice in 1979, making him the youngest person ever to hold this position at 26. In other words, he’d been Chief Prosecutor for only six years when the brutal Haysom case came to light, taking him all the way to London, England, in 1986 to criminally charge both Elizabeth and Jnes.

Jim was also the one to dominate the court during not just Elizabeth’s plea proceedings in 1987 but also Jnes’ trial in 1990, resulting in them receiving near-maximum penalties for their atrocious offenses. Hence came his unwavering rise to fame – especially since the latter was one of Virginia’s first nationally televised murder trials – as well as his bid for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. Yet although Jim’s solicitor campaign was unsuccessful, it doesn’t appear as if he regrets it one bit because he soon got the opportunity to grow into a General District judge for his native Bedford County.

Where is Jim Updike Now?

“As far as my prosecutorial style, that’s gone,” Jim candidly yet proudly stated shortly upon taking up his new position as a judge in July 1995. “If I had wanted to continue with that kind of role in the courtroom, I would have sought re-election as commonwealth’s attorney… As an attorney, you argue. As a judge, you listen and decide. It’s entirely different. The thing about General District Court is you have to be fair and give everyone his opportunity in court while also contending with the volume of cases. There’s a real balance there… From the perspective of a judge, even just simple things are different.”

Nevertheless, Jim was able to adjust rather quickly to attain a newfound positive reputation, leading him to hold the title to this very day — he’s still a proud presiding Bedford Circuit Judge. If we’re being honest, there have been a few instances over the decades where this “liberal judge” has received backlash for his statements or ultimate verdicts, but he unwaveringly backs his decisions and practices because he knows there’s both law plus a moral compass involved. As for Jim’s personal standing, from what we can tell, this 70-year-old family man resides in his hometown of Bedford even today, where loved ones surround him at every turn.

Read More: Phyllis Workman: Where is Elizabeth Haysom’s Cousin Now?