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Office of Chief Staff Attorney

About

The Office of Chief Staff Attorney performs several functions. First, the staff members of the Office of Chief Staff Attorney review all cases assigned to the Office for compliance with the Court’s procedural rules. Cases involving noncompliance with the Court’s procedural rules are presented to a Panel of Justices for consideration of disposition on procedural grounds. Second, Staff Attorneys assist the Court by providing in each appealed case, for consideration by a Panel of Justices, an objective summary of the procedural history, issues, relevant facts and incidents of trial, the legal arguments propounded by the parties, and in certain cases, a recommendation for a disposition. Third, in cases filed in the Court's original jurisdiction, the Staff Attorneys prepare a summary of the pleadings and a proposed order addressing the issues in the case, all of which are presented to a Panel of Justices for consideration of disposition. Fourth, from time to time, the Staff Attorneys assist the Justices with rule drafting and special research and writing projects as the Justices may request. And, finally, the Office of the Chief Staff Attorney frequently participates in Court sponsored study commissions or training programs intended to improve the administration of justice.

The Staff Attorneys in the Office of Chief Staff Attorney, for conflict of interest reasons, are not permitted to engage in the outside practice of law. Therefore, Staff Attorneys cannot provide legal advice to litigants with cases pending before the Court or other persons seeking legal assistance about their specific cases or legal problems.

Contact Information

  • Chief Staff Attorney - K. Lorraine Lord
    Phone - (804) 786-2259

History

In the late 1960’s, the rate of filings of appeals and petitions for writs of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia increased dramatically. To meet the increased caseload, the Court created the position of Special Assistant to the Court to help process cases, and subsequently authorized the employment of a few Law Clerks by the Special Assistant to assist in case processing. In January 1979, the Court renamed the position of Special Assistant to the Chief Staff Attorney, and authorized the appointment of additional Law Clerks. In January 2002, further changes were implemented in the way the office operates. Among other things, the temporary Law Clerk positions were converted to full-time Staff Attorney positions, resulting in experienced attorneys assisting in the processing of cases filed with the Court. In addition, Staff Attorney "specialist" positions were created to provide expert assistance in key office functions. These positions include a Habeas Supervisor, to assist in the production and review of habeas corpus orders, and a Capital Appeals Specialist, to assist the Justices in processing death penalty cases.