Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

You don't have to 'fight the good fight' alone. Join VACDL today.


VACDL's Annual Meeting and Fall CLE

November 7-8, 2024

Hotel 24 South, Staunton


Additional opportunities can be found on the careers page

If you have any questions about the positions feel free to contact Amari Harris at



    If you are a full-time Virginia Public Defender, make sure to take advantage of your VIDC group rate VACDL membership! Joining VACDL is super easy online [just click the "JOIN TODAY" button on this page!], and once your application has been approved by the VACDL Executive Director (she will confirm your employment with the VIDC), you can be added to the VACDL List Serv. We value your point of view and experience, so join today!


Did you miss out on grabbing a 30th Anniversary shirt at the Spring Seminar?

 T-shirts are always available to purchase online, by visiting our storefront:

VACDL 30th Anniversary Tshirt Shop

 You can customize your t-shirt style or color, and pick from an extended range of sizes. We look forward to seeing you rock a VACDL tshirt at our next happy hour or seminar!

Quote of the Quarter: 


[P]ublic defenders don't get to pick their clients. They have to represent whoever comes in, and it's a service. You are standing up for the constitutional value of representation.

---Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson        



  The Board of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL) expresses sorrow and anger over the experiences of the innumerable victims of excessive force, over-policing, and the militarization of law enforcement that have increasingly been brought to light, most recently with the deaths of George Floyd and others.  Recent events have acted as a catalyst for reform.  Many factors that have been swept under the rug for decades contribute to the injustices that we are seeing.  We are an organization dedicated to the presumption of innocence and due process for all.  It is painfully obvious that there are too many unnecessary deaths in police-citizen encounters which are a result of systemic problems, including racism, that have been neglected for far too long.  We are now at a crossroads where there is widespread recognition of these problems and that they can no longer be ignored.

   As we move forward to create new ways to police our society, we must also recognize that the issues are not simple and the solutions are going to require the input of all stakeholders in our community, including citizens, police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, legislators, and judges.

  The criminal justice system is where the effects of racism are often most visible.  Disproportionate arrests of people of color and overly punitive application of laws have a disparate impact on minority communities.  VACDL calls for changes that are long overdue.  This is a time for reform. 

  VACDL is committed to fighting against racism and injustice through legislative advocacy, by holding our elected officials to account, and pushing for real, significant reform in policing. VACDL will continue to fight for a fair and just system. These changes will not come easily, but we will continue to ensure that our organization, and the voice of our membership, and our clients, will be involved in these important discussions.

  Our goal is, and has always been, to ensure equal justice for everyone regardless of who they are, where they come from or the color of their skin. VACDL’s stated mission is ‘to improve the quality of justice in Virginia by seeking to ensure fairness and equality before the law,’ and that applies to all.  We stand together with those who fight injustice and join in the growing momentum to create genuine and lasting change now, and remedy the systemic problems plaguing our criminal justice system and society.


To join the Defenders Circle for 2024, click here: Defenders Circle


As our Executive Director mentioned in The Virginia Champion, dues invoices hit email inboxes during the last week of March. Those members who selected auto-renew (and opted in for the 5% discount) will not need to take any action. Virginia PDs will not receive an invoice, as their membership is covered by the VIDC/VACDL Group Rate partnership.

Associate Members, Federal PDs, New Practitioners, Regular Members and Students all received an electronic invoice from which payment can be remitted online. We appreciate everyone's timely assistance in sending in the annual dues payments.

If you have never been a VACDL member, or have inadvertently let your membership lapse, now is a great time to join the only voluntary Virginia bar organization exclusively focused on criminal defense!

And remember, only VACDL members in good standing have access to our List Serv!

If you have any questions about your VACDL membership status, or if you are experiencing a financial hardship, please reach out to our Executive Director at

VACDL's Judicial Appointment Committee

  Thanks to the excellent work of VACDL Board Member Gowri Janakiramanan, VACDL has a comprehensive policy and procedure manual for the evaluation of candidates seeking appointment for judicial vacancies:

VACDL Judicial Appointments Procedure

  VACDL’s Judicial Appointments Committee was established to serve the organization’s goal of providing fair and impartial evaluations of judicial nominees to state district court, circuit court, and appellate judicial seats as well as federal district court seats in the Eastern and Western District of Virginia, based on applications from candidates as well as requests for evaluations by the chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice Committee. The VACDL is one of nine bar groups in the Commonwealth of Virginia that has been asked to weigh in on judicial vacancies.

The Committee focuses on evaluating the competence, integrity, and judicial temperament of each nominee.

Those interested in being vetted by our Committee for current judicial vacancies can reach out to Executive Director Danielle Payne at


 LexisNexis has partnered with VACDL on the production of Virginia Criminal Laws Annotated, an "essential reference for criminal law practitioners with comprehensive coverage of Virginia criminal laws and procedure." VACDL had input into the content and design, and will continue to be involved in production in coming years.  

 It is available for purchase as a large softbound volume or as an ebook, for the great price of $79.

 As an extra benefit of your membership, VACDL members in good standing receive an additional 25% discount on the regular price!*


To save 25% on Virginia Criminal Laws Annotated, please reference or enter promotion code: VACDL2023

Visit the LexisNexis® Store at

or call 800.533.1637 to speak with a LexisNexis® account representative.


*Offer applies to new orders only.  Prices are before shipping and taxes are calculated, shipped to a U.S. address only. Prices are subject to change without notice. LexisNexis® eBook, CD, DVD and downloadable product sales are final and not returnable. Current subscriptions, future renewals or updates and certain products are excluded from this offer. Sales to federal government customers may be subject to specific contract pricing. Discounts may be available to customers who subscribe to both online and print publications, subject to your employer’s policy. Other restrictions may apply. Void where prohibited. See

VIDC Initial Certification Training 

Registration is through the VIDC, and there is no cost. 

VIDC Initial Certification

The VIDC website ( provides an overview of the court-appointed counsel certification process. We encourage all VACDL members to become certified to take court-appointed cases, and we offer a mentorship program to assist with the trial requirements for felony case certification. 

1604 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 200

Richmond, VA 23229

Not a VACDL member?


VACDL endorses the following sponsors and partners:


MLM Insurance


Metadata Forensics


Envista Forensics

VACDL honors our Life Members

Anthony "Tony" Anderson

Hugh E. "Teddy" Black, III

Aaron L. Cook

André A. Hakes

David M. Lee

Timothy Lynch

Michael McPheeters

Michael Nicholas

Matt C. Pinsker

Doug Ramseur

Sandra Saseen-Smith

Bruce R. Williamson, Jr.


 Our List Serv is now hosted by (the clunky Yahoo Group is gone for good).  New (or formerly lapsed) VACDL members will receive the access link upon approval of their membership applications. If you need the link re-sent, please reach out!  Contact Executive Director Danielle Payne at with any questions!

VACDL Newsletter

 Each quarter, VACDL sends a newsletter, The Virginia Champion, to active members. Recent past editions are available in the Member's Only Section. 

*Members can now choose electronic or mailed delivery for The Virginia Champion. In your Member Profile, click "Edit Profile" and select your preferred delivery option!*


Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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