Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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

Upcoming events



from the Supreme Court of Virginia:

22nd Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 062021

Amendment to 21st Order Extending Judicial Emergency (re:Masks)

21st Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 053021

20th Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 050921

19th Order Extending Judicial Emergency through 04-18-21

18th Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 3-28-21

17th Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 3-7-21

SCV 16th Order Extending Judicial Emergency to 21421

SCV 15th Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency

SCV 14th Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency

Court of Appeals Fourth Order concerning operations 112320

SCV Twelfth Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency 101920.pdf

Declaration of Judicial Emergency 11th ORDER through 11.1.20.pdf

SCV 9-11-20 Second Speedy Trial Tolling Clarification Order

    SCV 10th Order extending Judicial Emergency 9-4-20

Court of Appeals Third Order concerning operations 083120

SCV Ninth Order Extending Judicial Emergency 8-20-20



SCV Seventh Order 2020_0708.pdf


CAV Second Operations Order (June 23, 2020).pdf

SCV temp efiling Order 6-2-20.pdf

 Order 5--Judicial Emergency Modifying and Extending Order--6-1-2020.pdf

SCV Extension of Judicial Emergency to June 10 2020.pdf

SCV Third Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency.pdf


SCV Declaration of Judicial Emergency COVID-19 3-16-2020 Order.pdf

VA Supreme Court Judicial Emergency Clarification Order--5-1-2020.pdf.

VA Dept of Corrections-covid19-early-release-plan.pdf

There is a lot of discussion on the VACDL List Serv regarding the COVID-19 closures and how your cases and clients are being affected. If you are a VACDL member and have not subscribed to the List Serv, please contact Executive Director Danielle Payne at for List Serv access information

January 12, 2021   Virginia State Bar

Lawyers Are in Phase 1c of COVID Vaccine Schedule

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed those who work in the legal system in Phase 1c of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule. Lawyers are included in Phase 1c because they " ongoing critical infrastructure operations" according to the CDC recommendations.

Lawyers with underlying health conditions, those who are 75 years or older, and public facing judges and judicial workers are eligible for the Phase 1B vaccinations, already underway in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) Covid-19 vaccine phase by health district may be found here.

The interactive website on vaccination schedules created by the VDH may be found here.


Mark your calendars for the following programs:

August 26-27, 2021---Annual Meeting and Fall CLE, Marriott Oceanfront Hotel, Virginia Beach


VIDC Initial Certification Training 

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

[2021 dates will be posted soon]

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

Virginia COVID-19 Justice Coalition:

VA COVID-19 Justice Coalition


 We support the efforts to reform discovery rules in Virginia to ensure just and fair trials for all accused of criminal offenses. If you'd also like to support this initiative, click on the link below:

Virginia Fair Trial Coalition Support Agreement.pdf



  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.


Quote of the Quarter: 

      "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."

-Benjamin Franklin            



 The Course ID and MCLE Certification of Attendance forms for VACDL's Spring 2021 Seminar have been sent to all registered attendees, via email. If you did not receive the June 15, 2021 email, please contact VACDL's Executive Director at


  The Supreme Court of Virginia is considering proposed amendments to the Rules of Court, Part Six, Section III, Canons of Judicial Conduct, and seeks input from VACDL members: judicial_canons_call_for_comments.pdf

 Comments on the proposed amended Canons must be received by September 29, 2021 and must be addressed to: 

   Muriel-Theresa Pitney, Chief Deputy Clerk Supreme Court of Virginia Via email ( with the subject line “Comment on Judicial Canons”

  In the alternative, comments may be mailed to the Clerk’s office at:

   Clerk, Supreme Court of Virginia

   100 N 9th Street 5th Floor

    Richmond, VA 23219


         VIDC openings can be found on the careers page

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


The Court of Appeals of Virginia is hiring for several new staff attorney positions. There may be additional positions available over the course of the next few months so please check the link below frequently:

Judicial Branch Recruitment Register (Employment Opportunities) (


 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: VACDL2021

Visit the LexisNexis┬« Store at

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


*Offer expires December 31, 2021. Offer applies to new orders only. Price current as of January 2021. 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

March 15, 2021


(If you've joined VACDL recently, or are a Virginia Public Defender, you did not receive an invoice.)

N.B. You may have submitted a payment as recently as August or September for your 2020 dues, but that payment was for the period April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.  The extension to pay during the earlier part of the pandemic allowed many attorneys to remain VACDL members when they needed our community the most. If you are continuing to experience a financial hardship and would like to discuss a payment arrangement for the current year's dues, please reach out to our Executive Director at

If you are a former VACDL member, or have inadvertently let your membership lapse, now is a great time to re-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 so contact VACDL's Exec. Director at if you have questions about your VACDL membership status!


    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!

PRESS RELEASE FROM NACDL, VACDL, the ACLU of Virginia, Justice Forward Virginia and the Legal Aid Justice Center, August 6, 2020

Coalition Launches Virginia Redemption Initiative, Expanding NACDL’s Return to Freedom Project

Washington, DC (August 6, 2020) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL), the ACLU of Virginia, Justice Forward Virginia, and the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), today announced the launch of the Virginia Redemption Project.

The Project will recruit, train, and support volunteer lawyers to assist incarcerated individuals to submit petitions to the governor for executive clemency (which in Virginia is called a conditional pardon), and for other available post-sentencing relief. A conditional pardon is an act by the governor to modify a sentence. Individuals granted a conditional pardon are given terms and conditions for early release which, if violated, can result in re-incarceration. At its core, the Virginia Redemption Project is focused on ensuring that those who are most at risk of illness from COVID-19 and who cannot afford a lawyer have access to meaningful review of their case.

On April 22, 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a budget amendment authorizing the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) to grant early release to some incarcerated individuals who had less than one year remaining on their sentence. While this has brought relief to some individuals, many more individuals who can be safely released remain incarcerated. In May 2020, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Virginia and Charlottesville attorney Elliott Harding relating to the continued confinement of individuals at high risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a settlement agreement, which not only addressed health care and hygiene needs of those being held, but promised expanded and expedited review of petitions for conditional pardons. While the remedial measures in the settlement provide hope for post-sentencing relief for thousands of vulnerable people at high risk, neither the settlement nor the legislature has provided any funding, resources, or other mechanisms to provide representation to those seeking release. This coalition was formed to address this need. 

“Through NACDL’s extensive experience in supporting clemency and compassionate release projects, including Clemency Project 2014 during the Obama Administration, the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project, the Compassionate Release Clearinghouse, as well as other initiatives that are a part of NACDL’s Return to Freedom Project, NACDL is uniquely positioned to help with these immediate release efforts,” explained NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. “Working with our partners, NACDL aims to make the promise of redemption a reality for as many qualified candidates in Virginia’s prisons as possible.”

“The Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is proud to join in the Virginia Redemption Project to assist incarcerated persons who are vulnerable to COVID-19 in seeking early release,” said Shawn Stout, Esq., VACDL Board Member and VACDL Emergency Response Committee Member. “The Commonwealth has not done nearly enough to protect incarcerated persons and the communities around them from the spread of COVID-19, and the virus has continued to sweep through Virginia’s prisons, jails, and detention centers. The Virginia Redemption Project will help move the Commonwealth in the right direction by ensuring meaningful review for many more people who should be released.”

“People who are incarcerated are facing a major crisis. The virus is rapidly spreading in Virginia’s prison facilities, and incarcerated people are unable to take measures to safely socially distance or protect themselves like those in the general public. Without intervention by the administration, people with serious medical issues unnecessarily locked up in prisons are most at risk of illness or even death,” said ACLU-VA Legal Director Eden Heilman. “The Virginia Redemption Project will fill the need for people who are incarcerated with serious medical issues and who need help and representation to seek their safe release.”

“Virginia’s jails and prisons are currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and mass incarceration, which has proven to be a deadly combination,” says Bryan Kennedy, Policy Director for Justice Forward Virginia. “This project will prove to our elected officials that many people who are currently incarcerated can be released, which will improve public health at no risk to public safety.”

“Virginia is an outlier among the fifty states in its lack of meaningful release options for sick and elderly prisoners—those people who are especially at risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19,” said Shannon Ellis, an Attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center. “We hear every day from incarcerated individuals and their loved ones who are living on the front lines of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on prisons and jails.  With this project, we hope to expand access to release for those who need it most desperately.”

If you are an attorney licensed to practice in Virginia and you would like to volunteer to take on one or more petitions through the Project, please click here.

If you are seeking the assistance of the Project, please click here.

This is a Project of NACDL, VACDL, the ACLU of Virginia, Justice Forward Virginia, and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

The Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL) is a statewide organization of over 600 attorneys whose practice is primarily focused on the representation of those accused of criminal violations. Founded in 1992 as the Virginia College of Criminal Defense Attorneys, VACDL changed its name in 2002 to reflect its affiliation and strong ties to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. VACDL's mission is to improve the quality of justice in Virginia by seeking to ensure fairness and equality before the law.

The ACLU of Virginia promotes civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation and advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all. For more information on the ACLU of Virginia, go to

Justice Forward Virginia is a non-partisan advocacy organization that fights for criminal legal system reform in Virginia. JFV works with legislators and other advocates to improve the laws of the Commonwealth to make our criminal legal system one that actually does justice for all who are brought into it.

The Legal Aid Justice Center partners with communities and clients to achieve justice by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty. Justice means racial justice, social justice, and economic justice. Learn more at

Not a VACDL member?


*Exciting news! We have created a new, more user-friendly list serv hosted by! If you are a VACDL member in good standing, you received an email last year with your access link. If you need the link re-sent, please reach out! New (or formerly lapsed) VACDL members will receive the access link upon approval of their membership applications. Please 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!*

VACDL honors our 
     Life Members

Hugh E. "Teddy" Black, III

David M. Lee

Michael McPheeters

Matt C. Pinsker

Doug Ramseur

Sandra Saseen-Smith


VACDL endorses the following sponsors and partners:


MLM Insurance


Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Follow us

  • Home
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software