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ASL alums take office as commonwealth's attorneys

01/23/12

The November 2011 commonwealth's attorney elections swept a new wave of ASL alumni into office in southwestern Virginia. At least four ASL grads -- Gerald Arrington '04, Erin DeHart '06, Nathan Lyons '01 and Joshua Newberry '08 -- were elected as the top prosecutors in their respective counties.

Gerald Arrington '04 grew up in Buchanan County and now lives in the Breaks community. He attended the University of Virginia-Wise and was elected Buchanan County Commonwealth's Attorney in November. After ASL, Arrington worked for a law office in Lebanon, Va., practicing personal injury litigation and criminal defense. He later served as the deputy commonwealth's attorney for Buchanan County, and also worked part-time for ASL as an adjunct professor. In 2008, he started a law office in Grundy focusing primarily on criminal defense.

"My parents instilled in me the importance of community service," he said of running. "They taught me that I should always stand up and fight for my beliefs, and that I should also stand up and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves."

Erin DeHart '06 is from Bland, Va. She attended Bluefield College and was elected Bland County Commonwealth's Attorney in November. After ASL, she began serving Wythe County as an assistant commonwealth's attorney. She then left Wythe County and began working for Pulaski County commonwealth's attorney's office in 2008.

"You have to take the good with the bad, and always keep sight of the ultimate goal -- helping those in your community, and doing everything you can to make your part of the world a better place," she said of serving as a commonwealth's attorney.  "...This is not a job you do to become wealthy or get pats on the back for a job well done. It is service, and it takes a great deal of dedication."

Nathan Lyons '01 is from Hillsville, Va., and attended Alice Lloyd College. He was elected Carroll County Commonwealth's Attorney in November. His wife, Raquel Alderman Lyons '01, is also an ASL graduate. After ASL, Lyons clerked for the Hon. Thomas H. Keadle, circuit court judge. He then spent four years as an assistant commonwealth's attorney in Carroll County before starting Lyons and Lyons PC in Hillsville, Va., with his wife.

"ASL provided me with a vast array of experiences to prepare me for the demands of being the elected commonwealth's attorney," he said. "The school provided a great trial advocacy program and had multiple courses in criminal law providing me with the skills necessary to perform the job.  Through the summer externship program, ASL provided the opportunity to be exposed to several different offices dedicated to public service."

Joshua Newberry '08 is from Clintwood, Va., and attended the University of Virginia-Wise. He was elected Dickenson County Commonwealth's Attorney in November. His wife, Rosie Newberry '13, is a student at ASL. After graduating, Newberry  worked for a solo practitioner and was exposed to criminal defense, civil litigation, estate planning, and real-estate practice. He then became an assistant commonwealth's attorney in Wise County.

"I want to restore the citizens' confidence and accountability in the office of commonwealth's attorney by aggressively prosecuting drug dealers, repeat offenders and criminals who harm real victims," he said of his goals in office.

To read more about the new ASL commonwealth's attorneys as well as Marcus McClung '00, a veteran commonwealth's attorney in Scott County, Va., check out the latest issue of the Current, ASL's magazine.