I started practicing law in April 1976, working for a small firm in Blacksburg, Virginia. In October of that year, I decided to venture out on my own and opened an office in Dublin, even though it wasn’t the county seat of Pulaski County. I was the first lawyer to have an office in that quiet bedroom community. Seven lawyers now call it home.
Like so many young attorneys, I asked to be appointed by the court to represent indigent criminal defendants. My first three cases involved the sale of cocaine, robbery and murder. I had no choice but to jump in with both feet.
I quickly developed a keen interest in criminal cases. After all, almost any criminal case is more interesting than searching real estate titles, preparing a will or a contract, filing bankruptcy for someone, or providing tax advice. What really makes it exciting, though, is that even if a client is guilty, an experienced and capable criminal attorney with a good understanding of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution may be able to establish that police violated his constitutional rights by making an unlawful arrest, conducting an illegal search of his home, vehicle or person, or questioning him in violation of the Miranda decision, just to name a few. If so, the evidence obtained by police as a result may be inadmissible at trial and could leave the prosecution with no evidence at all. Those opportunities simply don’t exist in civil cases that come before the court.
In 1979, I was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski County. I held that position for twenty years and, as the elected prosecutor, I was the chief law enforcement officer in the county. During that time, I prosecuted hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases – dozens before a jury – from drunk driving to capital murder, and everything in between. In 1980, I successfully prosecuted the man who killed Radford University freshman, Gina Renee Hall, whose body has never been found. That was the first time in Virginia that anyone had been convicted of murder without a body. At the time, it was one of only seven or eight reported decisions in the English speaking world where someone was convicted of murder without a body, an eyewitness or a confession. Her murderer, who was sentenced to life in prison, remains incarcerated today.
The vast, invaluable experience that I acquired during those two decades is what I will put to use if I represent you, and what few criminal defense attorneys have ever received. I defend everyone to the best of my ability, and if there’s a possible way out, I pursue it in earnest – whether you’re guilty or not. Therefore, when we meet, I will ask you about the tiniest details, some of which may seem completely insignificant. However, a full command of those little tidbits and having the experience to know what to do with them often means the difference between winning and losing. If you’ve committed a crime, I won’t condemn, berate or ridicule you, because that’s a waste of time and not what you want or need. Instead, you need my understanding, concern and capable assistance. I’ll carefully explain the criminal process and the law that applies to your case, and make you as comfortable as possible, both in my office and with the several decisions that you may have to make.