Northam announces Commission to Examine Racial Inequity

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Photo Credit: LPETTET

Gov. Ralph Northam today announced the members of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law.

The Commission will review the Virginia Acts of AssemblyCode of Virginia, and administrative regulations with the goal of identifying and making recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity. Governor Northam signed Executive Order Thirty-Two, which established the Commission, on June 4, 2019.

The leadership of Sen, Lionel Spruill and Del, Marcia Price on Senate Bill 1079 and House Bill 2473 inspired the Commission’s creation and its mission to identify similar remainders of racially discriminatory language on Virginia’s books. This Commission is part of the Northam administration’s ongoing work to right historical inequities in areas like education, healthcare, and access to business opportunities.

“The members of this Commission are experts, scholars, and community leaders with diverse backgrounds and deep knowledge of civil rights, equity, and the law,” said Northam. “Racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have historically governed our Commonwealth—identifying and eliminating racist and discriminatory language will help make Virginia more equitable for all who live and work here.”

The first meeting of the Commission will take place on Monday, Sept. 9, , at 1 p.m. in the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building located at 1111 East Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

The Commission will issue an interim report with its findings and recommendations by Nov. 15.

The Commission will be chaired by Cynthia Hudson, Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia. The members appointed to the Commission are:

Andrew Block of Charlottesville, Attorney and Former Director, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice
Andrew Block served as the Director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) from 2014 to 2019 where he led a major transformation of Virginia’s juvenile justice system. Previously, he was an Associate Professor of Law, and Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law from 2010 to 2014. From 1998 to 2010, he was the founder and legal director of the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Henry L. Chambers, Jr. of Henrico, Professor of Law, University of Richmond
Henry L. Chambers, Jr. has been Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law since 2004. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, voting rights, employment discrimination, and criminal law. Professor Chambers currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission and as criminal law advisor to the Virginia Model Jury Instruction Committee, and served as Special Assistant Attorney General for redistricting matters for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2011 to 2013.

Jill Hanken of Richmond, Health Attorney, Virginia Poverty Law Center
Jill Hanken has served as an advocate for the vulnerable and marginalized as an attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) for over 30 years. At VPLC, she also directs the Center for Healthy Communities and the Enroll Virginia application assistance project. In 2019, she was recognized for “Championing Social Justice” by the Richmond History Makers.

The Honorable Mike Herring of Richmond, Partner, McGuire Woods and Former Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Richmond
Mike Herring is the immediate former four-term Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond. Prior to his service as the city’s top prosecutor for 13 years, Mike was a law firm partner representing clients in medical malpractice, criminal defense and personal injury matters. He is currently a partner at McGuire Woods, as well as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Richmond School of Law.

Cynthia Hudson of Richmond, Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia
Cynthia Hudson is currently Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia. Appointed to that post in January 2014, she is responsible for managing the daily legal operations of the Office of the Attorney General, and for ensuring the provision of quality and timely legal services for state government offices, departments, agencies, entities, and officials. She formerly served as City Attorney for the City of Hampton, and in private practice at McGuire Woods.

Carla Jackson of Chesterfield, Assistant Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Carla Jean-McNeil Jackson is the Assistant Commissioner for Legal Affairs for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College, a Master of Divinity, magna cum laude, from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and her juris doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law.

The Honorable Birdie Hairston Jamison of Richmond, Retired Judge, Richmond General District Court
Birdie Hairston Jamison is a former district court judge for the 13th Judicial District in Virginia. She was first appointed to the bench in 1991 and served until her retirement in 2015. She was the longest-serving traffic judge in Virginia at the time of her retirement.

The Honorable Jerrauld Jones of Norfolk, Chief Judge, Norfolk Circuit Court
Jerrauld Corey Jones is one of the few persons in Virginia history to hold office in each branch of government. He is currently the Norfolk Circuit Court’s Chief Judge. In 2002, he was appointed by then-Governor Warner to be the Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Prior to his gubernatorial appointment, he was eight times elected as a Delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates where he served over fifteen years and was the long-time Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Leslie Chambers Mehta of Chesterfield, Chief of Staff and Counsel to the CEO, Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Leslie Mehta is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Howard University School of Law. She is a civil rights advocate and the former Legal Director of the ACLU of Virginia. She has spent her career lobbying and litigating for race, gender, and LGBT equality.


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