Candidates for Election to the 2024-2026 VACDL Board of Directors
Michael C. Lonchar
I am the Public Defender for the Town and County of Bedford, where I have been defending the indigent since 2005. I am a 1993 graduate of the University of Delaware and a 1996 graduate of the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law. I have served two terms as the President of the Bedford Bar Association, as well as been a member of the Standards of Practice Enforcement Panel for the VIDC. I have been involved in both the Gideon’s Promise training and leadership programs. I have been a faculty member and a speaker at the VIDC Boot Camp and enjoy mentoring new public defenders. I have also served on the VACDL Board of Directors for the past three years as the representative for the 5th Congressional District. During that time, I have been on the CLE Committee, and both planned and presented at VACDL seminars.
I believe that this is a crucial time to be a criminal defense lawyer, as we are poised to make huge changes within the system. Our collective experiences make us uniquely situated to be leaders in the criminal justice reform movement. My experiences in a smaller jurisdiction have been beneficial to the Board by providing perspective to those from larger jurisdictions about issues common in a small jurisdiction as well as shedding light on how systemic our common problems are. Additionally, as a career public defender, I am passionate about providing zealous and high-quality legal representation to those not able to afford to hire their own attorney. My involvement with Gideon’s Promise has instilled a passion for training new lawyers with a zealous client centered focus, a passion I have been able to share with other members of the VACDL through the annual conference with my work on the CLE Committee. I believe that my background and experiences make me an ideal candidate to continue for another term on the VACDL Board and I hope to have the honor of continuing to serve you as such going forward.
Aaron L. Cook
Aaron L. Cook founded Cook Attorneys, a Harrisonburg-based firm, when he left the Rockingham/Harrisonburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office twenty-three years ago. A 1994 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Aaron tries cases primarily in the 26th Judicial Circuit and in the Western District of Virginia. Aaron is currently Vice President of VACDL and serves as a member of the Indigent Defense Commission. Aaron appreciates VACDL’s fantastic seminars and most of what is on the listserv, and he hopes VACDL’s increased role advocating for legislative reform in the General Assembly will continue to grow.
G. Rex Flynn, Jr.
Rex Flynn has been practicing law in the Commonwealth for 15 years, having been a solo practitioner in Arlington running The Flynn Law Firm since 2012. Raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, Rex attended Hampton University, where he majored in Psychology, and then attended the George Mason University School of Law. Rex is passionate about helping others and believes that lawyers have the special privilege of making and shaping their communities by pushing for change and being deliberate about it. Rex has served in leadership positions for a number of other Virginia Bar Associations, including current terms as the President Elect of the Old Dominion Bar Association and President of the Northern Virginia Black Attorney's Association (NOVABAA) where he also chairs the Judicial Selection Committee. He is also the immediate past president of the Arlington County Bar. Rex was selected as a SuperLawyer 2019 Rising Star, and a SuperLawyer in 2023, a Leader in the Law by Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly in 2020, and Bar Leader of the Year by the Virginia State Bar in 2022. Rex has served one term on the VACDL Board of Directors and wants to be involved with the organization's continued progress forward. In his spare time, Rex enjoys cheering for his beloved NY Knicks, his hometown Commanders, and playing with his dogs Bam Bam and Bella.
Vikram Kapil practices law and criminal defense in Southside Virginia. I am currently the Public Defender in the Halifax Office. I became a member of the Virginia State Bar in 1993. I have practiced as court-appointed counsel and been in private practice in Virginia and Greensboro, North Carolina. I was born in Youngstown, OH to immigrant parents from India. I attended the University of Virginia, College of Arts and Sciences for my undergraduate degree. After three years work as a molecular biology researcher at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Cancer Center, I went to Law School in Washington, DC and obtained my J.D. from the District of Columbia School of Law in 1993.
I have been a member of the Board of Directors for VACDL and I had the honor of serving as President in 2017. It is impressive and inspirational observing how the membership is generous with time and effort to help our clients-criminal defendants and members. I have seen how our Presidents, Board and membership have gained influence and a voice within Virginia at the local level, the General Assembly and the Supreme Court of Virginia. I hope to add, contribute and extend our influence. I am currently chairman of the strike force/JIRC committee, and we have filed complaints on behalf of our members. I have created protocols so we can get these complaints processed and filed with VSB and JIRC. I am also a member of the board of NACDL. I am the affiliate representative to the national board and help coordinate local to the national criminal justice reform. I appreciate your vote.
M. Lee Smallwood, II
Lee Smallwood has been serving the people of Danville as a public defender since 2007. He is currently the Deputy Public Defender and also serves as Chair of the local United Way and Secretary of the Danville Historical Society.
AT-LARGE Seat #1
Gowri Janakiramanan is a public defender in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is committed to providing high-quality representation for each of her clients and ensuring integrity in the criminal justice system. Furthermore, she is committed to ensuring greater diversity in the practice of criminal defense and public defense, starting from when high school and college students—particularly those from under-represented communities—express interest in criminal justice work and civic education.
Gowri is also extremely interested in using comparative criminal justice models from both inside and outside the United States to advocate for a more just and equitable system of criminal laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to completing an LLM in Human Rights in London, where she studied comparative criminal justice in Europe and the United States, Gowri has worked closely with numerous foreign criminal justice practitioners to help them advance criminal justice abroad. In her role as a VACDL at-large board member, Gowri has brought these experiences to bear by designing and writing the organization’s procedures and policies for evaluating judicial candidates. Gowri looks forward to continuing to serve the Virginia criminal defense bar as a member of the Board.
AT-LARGE Seat #4
Tim Lynch is a solo practitioner in Fairfax County. He has worked as a policy analyst in Washington, DC on criminal law reform. In that capacity, he gained experience testifying before congressional and state legislative committees and he has also published several law review articles, and op-eds for news outlets such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Mr. Lynch has also filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal circuits. He serves on the Board of Advisors of Flex Your Rights, a nonprofit that seeks to educate both students and adults of their constitutional rights during police encounters. Mr. Lynch enjoys sharing tips and suggestions to members on the VACDL listserv and would like to lend more assistance by serving on the board. He resides in Fairfax but feels most at home in the Shenandoah area.