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My Interview With Democratic Candidate for Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Candidate Carlos Hutcherson

I do not usually get involved in local races far away and especially the Commonwealth’s Attorney race (what if the wrong person wins – better be sure I don’t get a ticket in that jurisdiction!) but I spoke with Carlos Hutcherson about three weeks ago and was impressed with his platform and demeanor.  And there’s that party issue – Carlos is a Democrat.  I am technically banned from the GOP Committee for four years due to my support of Sarvis in 2013 and now it looks like it could be four more years!  🙂

I sent Hutcherson the questions and I have slightly edited the questions so they will flow better.

I told him last week I would help him (and he’s running against a U Alabama law grad!) and Carlos hired the company I work for for an appeal which is how I got to say hello.

Now this interview will show why I like him:

First meet Carlos:

I am married with two sons who are 18 and 16. I graduated from Virginia Union University with  dual degree in History/Political Science, and from Liberty University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate.  I opened a solo practice in 2012, accepting criminal, domestic, personal injury, social security, and workers’ compensation cases. I have argued cases before the Virginia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Virginia, Western District Federal Court, Administrative Law Judges, and Deputy Commissioners of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.  The majority of my practice deals with criminal cases, and have handled Misdemeanors to Class 1 Felonies.

Tell me more about your trial experience.

My trial experience includes a majority of wins with criminal defense juries, successful jury trials in civil cases, and over a thousand criminal defense cases. I have defended murder cases, aggravated malicious wounding,  felony murder, drug possession and distribution cases, rape, etc.

Why did you run for Commonwealth’s Attorney?

I am running for Commonwealth’s Attorney because I see there is a need for a change in the way cases are prosecuted in Lynchburg.  In lower level cases there is a failure to take advantage of diversionary programs, and an over criminalization of juveniles and first time misdemeanor offenders.  Civil liberties of individuals are not respected, and are in fact disregarded by the current regime. Also, there is little to no diversity in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, no diversity in the Public Defender’s Office, and no diversity on the bench in Lynchburg or the surrounding counties.

Blogger’s note:  I researched the potentially incendiary diversity issue and I read this in the Lynchburg News & Advance:

If elected, Hutcherson said, he would be the first African-American commonwealth’s attorney in Lynchburg and the only to make a run for the office, at least in recent decades, making his candidacy groundbreaking.

“I would instantly change the percentage of diversity in that office,” he said. While the prosecutor’s office has some minorities, there aren’t nearly enough, he argued.

Of the 30 employees in the Lynchburg Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, [GOP candidate and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany] Harrison said a senior assistant and a legal assistant are African-American females, and another legal assistant is of Hispanic descent.

That sounds like one attorney and two support staffers out of 30 people.  The African-American population of Lynchburg City is just under 30% according to the News & Advance article.  I have a follow up email to Hutcherson on this question.

Returning to the interview questions:

I like what I hear about overcriminalization.  It is very important issue to liberty-minded people like me.  Too many crimes and too much punishment.  What would you do to address this issue?

I would reduce the time sought for lower level non-violent crimes, treat grand larcenies under a certain amount as misdemeanors, consider alternative ways to address marijuana possession charges.  The restorative justice approach causes the individual who committed the crime to become responsible for their actions and to realize that there are other options. I think my role as a commonwealths attorney is to make sure my office is the facilitator for both sides; we need to make sure that everyone is heard and that programs are created to prevent further harm. For instance, lets say a mother has been charged with shop lifting for stealing diapers for her child. This mother needs to understand how her actions have a negative impact on the economy, but what about parenting classes and job referral programs being a part of the case disposition? Or providing aid to a veteran who is committing low level crimes because he is having a hard time adjusting to society?

What positions on other issues do you feel are important?

The Commonwealth’s position on diversionary programs, juvenile case disposition, and first offenders are important.   Diversion programs should be considered in drug possession cases, certain cases with substance abuse and mental health as the underlying issues, and in certain first offender cases.

What about violent crime? 

My family, both immediate and extended, reside in Lynchburg which gives me extra incentive to keep the city safe and to prosecute violent offenders. The safety of the public will be my primary goal in office.

What differs you from your opponent?

I differ from my opponent in that I have a rounded legal background, have a different perspective of our citizenship, and believe that individual rights must be upheld.  My opponent supports the use of over charging on criminal offenses, high sentences for non-violent crimes, and incarceration over other problem solving modalities.  My opponent does not believe that the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney should be diverse, or that the perception of the criminal justice system has far reaching implications in minority communities.

Anything I left out that my readers might like?

Individual freedoms, end of the “war on drugs”, and fiscal restraint related to incarceration are important issues for me.  We spend too much money incarcerating non violent offenders on drug and other charges.  The money could be better spend, and much of it saved, by diverting many of the drug offenders to diversionary programs.   A first offender with something like a petit larceny charge should have to opportunity to avoid having their first criminal mistake held against them for the remainder of their life. In Virginia there is no expungement of convictions, and therefore a criminal conviction at age 19 will remain on their record for the rest of their life. There is a lack of compassion int he Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. They would rather a 60 year old lifelong heroin addict do years in prison instead of agreeing to diverting a sentence to allow for addressing the substance abuse issue.  The war on drugs is a huge failure, and has only accomplished in destroying families and breaking up communities.  Far too many people are serving multiple years in prison for drug related crimes. Also, the state should not have an interest in forfeiting an individual’s property for the state’s benefit.  It is a slippery slope which gives the State too much incentive to proceed in property forfeitures.
My summation:  I like what I read and hear.  It is a rare candidate that seeks an office like prosecutor and discusses these issues like civil asset forfeiture and diversion programs.  I think it is important to make sure liberty-minded voters in the City of Lynchburg to know and help/vote for Carlos.  If they are nearby but outside the city – see if you can work the polls.
You can reach Hutcherson by using this email:  [email protected]








About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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