Robert N. Tracci
Candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney
The Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecutes cases against criminal defendants on behalf of Albemarle citizens. Under the Virginia Constitution, the Commonwealth’s Attorney is accountable directly to the voters every four years. The exercise of prosecutorial authority requires a great degree of discretion. Prosecutors must exercise integrity, judgment, and fairness. They must also bring a measure of humility to the exercise of their official duties that has been lacking under the leadership of Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Denise Lunsford.
Unlike my opponent, who had not prosecuted a single state, federal or local case when she ran for the office in 2007, I have a proven record as an honorable prosecutor. As a federal prosecutor from 2008 to 2012 under Presidents Bush and Obama, I prosecuted a broad range of federal and state offenses in federal court. I prosecuted a wide range of violations of Virginia state law under 18 USC section 13, including assault cases, traffic offenses, DUI, and other offenses. I also represented the United States in hundreds of criminal matters, including initial appearances, revocation hearings, the entry of plea agreements, and federal jury trials. I have assisted in the prosecution of violent felony offenses, murder for hire, solicitation, drug trafficking, white collar, and obstruction of justice cases. Moreover, I would focus on restoring confidence in the fair administration of justice by ensuring that EVERY criminal defendant receives the fair trial and due process to which they are entitled.
Prior to serving as Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, I was Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. In this position, I helped secure passage of key criminal justice reform legislation, including child protection legislation. Prior to holding this post, I was Chief Legislative Counsel and Parliamentarian to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, where I helped draft, negotiate, and secure passage of complex federal legislation including the Innocence Protection Act, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, the Voting Rights Reauthorization Act, and the Protect Act.
As your Commonwealth’s Attorney, my first priority would be to restore the fair and impartial administration of justice by ensuring that all criminal defendants are accorded the constitutional rights they deserve. I would attach greater priority to protecting children, victims of violence, and the elderly. I would prosecute cases without regard to race or gender, zip code or ethnicity, or whether defendants live on grounds or off. I would be tough, but I would be fair. I would also work to implement Sheriff Harding’s expansion of the DNA data bank to facilitate the prosecution of criminal offenses while reducing the chances of wrongful convictions.
In my view, the Mark Weiner prosecution by Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford was a gross miscarriage of justice. It has brought unwelcome national attention to the Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. In this case, my opponent took affirmative steps to prevent a jury from seeing crucial evidence that pointed to Mr. Weiner’s innocence. Mr. Weiner spent two and half years in jail, lost his home, life savings, and time with his family.
According to University of Virginia School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic Director Deirdre Enright, “Lunsford appears to have learned in the middle of her case against Mark that the ‘victim’s’ cell phone tower records contradicted the victim’s version of events, and corroborated the defendant’s. Leaving aside the fact that a competent prosecutor is not learning the underlying facts of her case mid-trial, this was the kind of exculpatory evidence that would cause a fair prosecutor, honoring her obligation to seek and serve justice, to dismiss the charge.”
Moreover, the University of Michigan’s Registry of Exonerations listed Ms. Lunsford’s “official misconduct” as a factor contributing to Mr. Weiner’s wrongful conviction.
I have made Mr. Weiner’s case an issue in this campaign because everyone deserves a fair trial.