The Commonwealth’s Attorney is entrusted with broad and far-reaching authority. As an elected constitutional officer, the Commonwealth’s Attorney holds a position of public trust directly accountable to the people he or she serves.
The job of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to pursue justice. Justice depends upon a fair and transparent process that seeks accountability while respecting the rights of the accused. Every four years, voters are given a chance to affirm these principles. And that is why I am a candidate for Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
People expect the Commonwealth’s Attorney to be tough. They also demand fairness. And if given the chance to serve, I pledge to be tough AND fair; to sacrifice neither to the other; but to pursue both while upholding the constitutional traditions that set the American system of justice above all others.
The effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s Attorney depends upon the men and women of law enforcement. Like all public officials, law enforcement officers must be held to the highest standard of professional conduct. For they recognize that their public standing may be compromised by the overreach of a few. Few among us risk so much on a daily basis. Police officers do so without complaint, without hesitation, and too often, without praise or recognition.
But one principle must remain clear and undeniable: our law enforcement community deserves our respect and our support. And it will always have mine.
My professional life has been marked by public service. I was proud to help secure passage of federal child protection legislation in Congress and at the Department of Justice. As a federal prosecutor in the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama, I helped prosecute child exploitation, violent offenses, and white collar crimes. And if elected, I will continue the fight to secure justice on behalf our community.
We are all privileged to call Albemarle home. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and should be among the safest. Protecting children, families, victims of sexual assault and domestic violence must be our first priority.
We must strengthen relationships with victims of crime, their families, and groups that assist them. And prosecuting crimes against the elderly must receive the attention it demands.
Violent criminal gangs present a growing threat to public safety. When working with law enforcement partners to meet these challenges, confrontation must yield to cooperation, competition to common purpose.
The Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney handles a growing caseload, and must be provided the resources necessary to perform its mandate. But the prosecution of cases, including drunk driving and domestic assault, must never be conditioned upon increased taxpayer funds. (Lunsford, Budget Cut May Halt Some Cases, Daily Progress, January 24, 2013.)
All criminal defendants must receive the fair trial they deserve. As Governor McAuliffe recently stated:
The integrity of our justice system depends on the guarantee of a fair trial that is informed by all available evidence.”
Transparency and fairness are crucial to the administration of justice. And if elected, I will work with Sheriff Harding and others to expand the DNA database to better protect future victims of crime AND those victimized by wrongful prosecutions.
We live in the county Thomas Jefferson called home. And in the Commonwealth that produced Washington, Madison, Monroe, and Mason. Legal overreach must be checked before it occurs. The law must unify, not divide us.
We all swear the same oath to the Virginia and United States Constitutions. Simply put, when prosecuting criminal offenders, zip codes and income must not matter. Neither must race nor ethnicity, education or social position, gender or nationality, or whether you live on grounds or off.
In the coming months, I will provide the voters a choice of new leadership. In seeking this office, I will be guided by the words of Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson who stated:
The citizen’s safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”
I will strive to uphold these principles with civility and humility. And I ask for your support realizing them.