SUPREME COURT SELECTS NEW CHIEF STAFF ATTORNEY

 

[Posted February 8, 2013] The history of the Supreme Court of Virginia is about to turn another page. Long-time Chief Staff Attorney Greg Lucyk is retiring at the end of this month, and will be replaced by Spotsylvania County Attorney Jacob P. Stroman IV.

 

Greg retires after a career of public service that included a stop in the Attorney General’s Office in the 1990s. It was then that I met him, as we jointly defended a shotgun lawsuit against judges, lawyers, and police officers, filed by a jailhouse lawyer. Greg represented the state defendants and I had the Virginia Beach Police defendants; I learned then how capable and professional he was.

 

In his tenure as Chief Staff Attorney, Greg’s primary role has been to advise the justices on pending cases. He and his staff prepare bench memoranda on petitions for appeal, summarizing the record, the issues, the parties’ arguments, and the applicable law. The memos also include a recommendation as to whether a writ should be granted or not, and I’m told that while the correlation rate between those recommendations and the actual writs isn’t 100%, the first digit is a 9.

 

The Staff Attorney also personally receives and considers writ argument in criminal appeals, giving a recommendation afterward to the justices as to which writs should be granted. The justices have the final say, of course – Greg has never granted a single writ on his own in his entire tenure – but the court relies upon his evaluation of the case in making an informed decision.

 

In the Supreme Court of the United States, the Solicitor General is often referred to as “the Tenth Justice,” reflecting the respect that SCOTUS has for the views of that official within the Justice Department. I can’t speak as a court insider, but I suspect that Greg Lucyk has earned that same degree of respect with the Supreme Court of Virginia. If there is an “Eighth Justice” in Richmond, he fits the bill. I’m going to miss interacting with him, but I hope I can persuade him to come out of retirement from time to time to help teach a CLE course or two for aspiring appellate lawyers. Mr. Stroman has some substantial shoes to fill.

 

Since I live in a Navy town, I’ll end this with the traditional Navy farewell: Fair winds and following seas, my friend.