Gilbert shifts from prosecutor to private practice

Page News and Courier The Shenandoah Valley-Herald The Warren Sentinel
Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-15th District) was honored last week by Virginia’s prosecutors as a “Champion of Justice” – less than a month after he left his post as assistant prosecutor in Frederick County to become a defense attorney with a Front Royal law firm.

Gilbert, who has spent his entire law career since 1997 as a prosecutor or assistant prosecutor in Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties, went into private practice in mid-July with the law firm Pond, Athey, Athey and Pond in Front Royal.

Fellow delegate Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr. (R-18th District), who announced earlier this year that he will not run for re-election to the General Assembly, is a partner in that firm.
Athey is widely rumored to be the top candidate for a 26th Judicial Circuit Court judgeship left vacant by the unexpected retirement of Judge John Prosser of Frederick County earlier this year.

Gilbert began his career out of law school as a prosecutor in the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in 1997. He became an assistant prosecutor in Shenandoah County from 1999 to 2005, when he was first elected to the General Assembly. That same year, he became an assistant prosecutor in Warren County until 2007, when he became an assistant prosecutor in Frederick County.

The Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys (VACA) awarded him its first Champion of Justice Award last week “in gratitude for demonstrated commitment to justice for the citizens of Virginia and for extraordinary and distinguished service during the 2011 session of the Virginia General Assembly,” according to a press release announcing the award.

Michael Doucette, chairman of VACA’s Legislative Committee, present the award and said it recognizes Gilbert’s “many contributions to the cause of public safety as a key member of the House Courts of Justice Criminal Subcommittee and the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission.”

Doucette, who serves as Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg, said Gilbert sponsored or co-sponsored “many pieces of legislation which were heavily supported by VACA,” such as stiffer sentences for drug dealers and legislation ensuring that co-defendants are held equally accountable in capital murder cases.

"I am very thankful and humbled that my former colleagues have chosen to recognize me in the first year that they have ever given this award,” Gilbert said of the honor. “Even though I can no longer count myself among the ranks of Virginia's prosecutors, I will remain a steadfast proponent of criminal justice policies that keep my fellow citizens safe for as long as I serve in the General Assembly."

Gilbert will be a criminal defense attorney at Pond, Athey, Athey and Pond, serving clients throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

He told the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg that he had “been pondering” the switch from prosecutor to defense attorney “for a couple of years.”

He added that “Just as we have to hold people accountable for their crimes, everyone has a right to a zealous defense.”

Noting that he could soon be defending people charged with violating laws that he helps pass as a legislator, Gilbert noted that he will continue to push for tougher laws as a state delegate.

“I’m not going to lose my prosecutorial perspective when it comes to public policy,” he told the Daily News-Record. “I still intend to be one of the staunchest law-and-order members of the House of Delegates.”

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