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BLOG ENDORSEMENT: Adams for Attorney General

I have authority to write a BLOG endorsement for John Adams for Attorney General.

First, John Adams has a stellar background in the law.  Here is a bio from a Fairfax newspaper:

Adams spent four-and-a-half years in the U.S. Navy, including a deployment to Iraq during the decade-long Operation Southern Watch. He left the Navy in 2000 to attend the University of Virginia’s School of Law.

After graduating, Adams moved to Northern Virginia and served as a clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David Sentelle for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2003 to 2004 before becoming a law clerk for Associate Justice Thomas in 2006.

Adams joined the Bush White House in 2007 as an associate counsel to the president, a role in which he primarily dealt with issues out of the Department of Defense and State Department, according to his McGuire Woods profile.

After leaving the White House in 2008, Adams returned to the Richmond area and served as a federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia with the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Adams shifted to a private practice in 2010, when he was hired by McGuire Woods.

Assistant White House Counsel, clerk to a Supreme Court Justice (a solid conservative one – Justice Clarence Thomas), partner at McGuire Woods.  Few lawyers have that kind of record of accomplishment.

But Adams also has stated he would enforce and defend the laws of the Commonwealth without regard for politics.

Second, the Attorney General must defend the laws of the land and represent his client – the Commonwealth of Virginia – in an effective manner.  The incumbent has abdicated this duty for partisan reasons.

In the Virginia marriage case Herring refused to defend his client and in fact brought his office in opposition to the Commonwealth’s laws and constitution.  The incumbent admitted it in a debate covered by the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“You got into this race because of what I did on marriage equality,” Herring told him. “You want to roll it back. That’s why you got into this race in the first place.”

Herring said the attorney general should stand up for LGBT rights.

“And you know what? It’s also right on the law. Every single court we were in, we won. Even a conservative Supreme Court agreed we did the right thing.”

It is not the way to handle it.  First, the “conservative” Supreme Court did not sanction Herring’s refusal to defend the state’s laws and constitution.  And the fact the position was upheld is not the proper analysis.  The question is:  Did the Commonwealth have a case?

It is similar to what happens when a criminal defense attorney appointed to defend a indigent client on appeal and cannot find any arguable error.  He or she cannot abandon his or her client, instead he or she has to argue every possible point on appeal and also move to withdraw from further representation.  If the point is not frivolous – and four Justices voted against gay marriage so by definition the state’s position was not frivolous – if the point is not frivolous, than the lawyer cannot withdraw but must defend his or her client.

The ethical rules governing lawyers requires a vigorous defense for a client as long as it is not legally frivolous and this comment (Comment one) to Rule 3:1 is telling:

“The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client’s cause…”

Has the Attorney General fulfilled his duty in the marriage cases?  No.  He abandoned his client.

It is not the AG’s job to advocate for a political cause but rather his or her’s “client’s cause“.  He or she is to follow the law, give sound advice, and defend the Commonwealth when necessary.  If conscientiously the Attorney General decides he or she cannot do so – he or she must ask the court to appoint a special assistant attorney general to do so – and send the office the bill.

This refusal to act in another case caused actual damage.

In the Wittman v. Personhuballah case, the Commonwealth refused to appeal the decision changing the Congressional boundaries (I lost Dave Brat as a representative due to that decision.  Ponder this when you consider a independent redistricting commission.) and the Supreme Court refused to give Brat and other representatives legal standing (right to participate) in the appeal.  Here is what the United States Supreme Court stated as the facts of the case (emphasis added):

The Commonwealth of Virginia did not appeal. Instead,
the intervenor Members of Congress appealed the District
Court’s judgment to this Court. See 28 U. S. C. §1253
(granting the right to directly appeal certain three-judge
district court orders to the Supreme Court).
On remand the District Court again decided that Dis-
trict 3, as modified by the Enacted Plan, was an unconsti-
tutional racial gerrymander.  Page v. Virginia State Bd. of
Elections, 2015 WL 3604029, *19 (ED Va., June 5, 2015).
The court’s order set forth a deadline of September 1,
2015, for the Virginia Legislature to adopt a new redis-
tricting plan.  Again, the Commonwealth of Virginia
decided not to appeal. And again, the intervenor
Members of Congress appealed to this Court.
And there was real damage:
The members of Congress were held not to have standing to defend their own districts. As our request for supplemental briefing, our order postponing consideration of jurisdiction, and our questions at oral argument suggested, we cannot decide the merits of this case unless the intervenor Members of Congress challenging the District Court’s racial-gerrymandering decision have standing. We conclude that the intervenors now lack standing. We must therefore dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
And there may be more damage – actual harm to Virginia taxpayers!
A federal court has awarded $1.3 million to the attorneys who successfully sued to redraw Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, an amount assessed partially against Virginia taxpayers and partly against current and former Republican members of Congress.
So much for pro bono!  Some of this was perhaps caused by AG Herring’s refusal to defend the state legislature’s actions:
Virginia’s congressional Republicans took over the bulk of defense work in the 3rd District case, fighting to preserve lines that led to an 8-3 Republican majority in the state’s congressional delegation despite an electorate that has narrowly put Democrats into all of Virginia’s statewide elected positions.
It is a fair question:  Will Attorney General Herring defend the actions of the Virginia legislature if Ed Gillespie becomes governor?   Rather he might SUE the Governor or the legislature.  He after all sued the President of the United States:
Attorney General Herring DID find opportunity to attack in court the President’s travel ban (from the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting of the Attorney General’s first debate):

Adams disagreed and said it wasn’t Herring’s job to go to Dulles “in the midst of a very tense and emotional situation and get in front of a bunch of microphones and feed those flames.”

Adams sided with Trump on the need for a temporary travel ban.

“I am deeply concerned about a case where we now have courts second-guessing the commander in chief on questions related to national security,” he said. “He is charged with keeping America safe, and there’s a lot going on in the world right now that has people unsettled.”

If you are a liberal or liberal-leaning independent and you say yea to all these antics the Attorney General is doing, ponder this:  An extreme right-wing AG could decide to only defend laws he or she likes.  And that is not the role of the Attorney General.

Attorney General Herring also has attacked Adams (ironically) for his defense of corporations, banks and others accused of breaking fraud, white-collar, or money laundering laws.  From the R T-D article:

“Voters will have a stark choice,” Herring said. “And there’s some interesting things in John’s background but he doesn’t talk that much about the work that he’s done more recently. He has been part of a powerful Richmond law firm for the last seven years, and he and his team brag about how they specialize in shielding people who are involved in kickbacks, pyramid schemes, embezzlement, money laundering, tax fraud, bribery, obstruction of justice. It’s astounding.”

Herring said Adams protects the kind of people prosecutors work hard to bring to justice. “It’s like he’s trying to be the anti-attorney general.”

This attack on Adams as an attorney and how shameful it is, I blogged on this several weeks ago.  But let’s ponder this:

Herring accuses Adams of helping corporations break laws.  If they are breaking laws and Adams is helping them break laws, Adams must be a fabulous lawyer who can make what is not legal to be legal.  Better get him when we can to be OUR lawyer!

There is a lot of gray areas in these laws (one reason to watch for over-criminalization).  Now it is true:  Lawyers love a loophole.  But a loophole is still a lawful action – a safe harbor in what is perhaps an otherwise illegal situation.

It is also possible that these companies are NOT GUILTY of breaking laws but rather Adams is trying to help them remain LEGAL in their actions.  When sued by the government, it is easy to lose and the damages are severe.  Even a technical violation of law is still a violation.

Ponder this:  Maybe Adams’ defense of these clients will serve the Commonwealth well as OUR advocate!

But there is a larger philosophical issue:  Who is entitled to a legal defense?  Herring seems to say:  Corporations and banks and white-collar criminals are not entitled to a defense.  Adams is more likely to say yes – everybody is entitled to a zealous defense within the bounds of the law.

The Attorney General also should not attack another lawyer for proper legal defense of clients.  It is pandering to anti-lawyer prejudice and bigotry.  That is shameful.

Other reasons?  How about this:  NARAL endorses Herring.  The incumbent sounds like an advocate rather than a defender of the Commonwealth’s interest.

“Women in Virginia need to know that they have an Attorney General who will stand with them and who will fight for their reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Herring. “I’ve been proud to work together with Governor McAuliffe to be a brick wall in defending a woman’s right to choose here in Virginia. We can’t afford to go backwards, and I’m looking forward to continuing this work in my next term.”

Again, I would say – while there is a place for the Attorney General to advocate for reform of laws there has to be an independent review of laws (The AG’s office takes questions as to legality of laws from elected officials throughout the Commonwealth – see the Code section [2.2-505] below):

A. The Attorney General shall give his advice and render official advisory opinions in writing only when requested in writing so to do by one of the following: the Governor; a member of the General Assembly; a judge of a court of record or a judge of a court not of record; the State Corporation Commission; an attorney for the Commonwealth; a county, city or town attorney in those localities in which such office has been created; a clerk of a court of record; a city or county sheriff; a city or county treasurer or similar officer; a commissioner of the revenue or similar officer; a chairman or secretary of an electoral board; or the head of a state department, division, bureau, institution or board.

Who can trust an opinion of such an partisan Attorney General as Mark Herring?

There is a strong argument that the AG should be an independent not Republican or Democrat (A Libertarian perhaps?  🙂 There’s always 2021…if the Lord has not come back by then!) but the political reality is that we will have one or the other.

So let’s sum up:  The incumbent is too partisan and will not defend the state.  Herring might even sue the state if the state passes laws he does not like.  We cannot continue the regime of such a reckless chief lawyer.

Adams is clearly qualified and will bring a different viewpoint – what is the law and where does it lead us to and what is the state’s interest.

Hence the Virginia Right Blog officially endorses John Adams for Attorney General.


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)

29 Responses to “BLOG ENDORSEMENT: Adams for Attorney General”

  1. D. Howe says:

    “Most of Adams’ work in white-collar criminal defense at McGuireWoods was in other states. His brother Tray Adams is senior vice president of state government relations with McGuireWoods Consulting.”

  2. Steinhauer says:

    The best thing Pubs can hope for is gridlock: Dems holding the state offices and the Pubs holding the state senate and house:

  3. Rod says:

    VA Right endorses a “White Collar” criminal lawyer for Attorney General what? so he can run for Governor in four years? AFTER 4 years of SPONGE BOB MCDONNELL and Maureen? are you kidding me? This guy was handpicked by the criminals in Richmond who operate the Republican Party of Virginia.

    • Sandy Sanders

      What’s our choice? No libertarian or indy is running for AG. And Adams does not strike me as the run for this to end up governor type of candidate. I think he’ll run for AG again unless Vogel does not win LG (which I think she has a good chance to do) and then Adams will be asked to run for governor. Glad you came by, Rod. Hold your nose and vote Adams, you might be glad you did.


      • Cavalier Granny says:

        You, Sandy, have become what others who post here refer to as a “Republican Apologist” voter.

        What choice do you have? I will tell you what choice you have: LEAVE THE BALLOT BLANK by AG. If you can’t vote for Herring YOU don’t have to vote for John Adams either. That’s trading one bad apple for another. YOU should have worked harder for Chuck Smith for AG and worked to expose the RPV. Who do you think runs the RPV? Mike Thomas at McGuire Woods Consulting- John Adams’ firm.

        YOU don’t have to vote for a McGuire Woods lawyer whose brother is a lobbyist for the same firm.
        Dominion Energy’s lobbyist firm is McGuire Woods Consulting. Geez- how could you vote for that for Attorney General?

      • Mark Army says:

        Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell who ran for Governor followed by Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who ran for Governor is a good reason NOT to vote for Republican Attorney General candidate John Adams who works for Powerhouse lobby firm McGuire Woods. Dominion Energy’s law firm.

        Thank you

    • Gene the Populist says:

      Great comment! The Virginia Republican House and Senate, has pissed away billions by not expanding Medicaid in Virginia. Virginia is still on its knees thanks to HB 2313 (the largest tax increase in Virginia history) via Republicans Bob McDonnell, Tommy Norment, Speaker Howell, and their establishment/power company form of government. Republicans in Washington lied to use for 7 years about repealing Obamacare. Everytime Trump opens his mouth another pack of lies come out. The US House and Senate are totally dysfuntional under Trump, Ryan, and McConnell.

      Sandy’s endorsements are a sigh of relief. Why? Because they rarely if ever win elections.

      • The Fed Up Pac says:

        Way to nail it Gene the Populist

        Senator Tommy Norment and Speaker Bill Howell identified the BIG Republican Donors years ago- told them don’t donate to individual candidates- donate to our Republican Pac so we can run our candidates and get them elected ( the same people who are now advocating for voter registration by party in Virginia to disenfranchise grassroots voters from voting in Republican Primaries). Mark OBENSHAIN! et al.

        These are the same crooks who take VADA and Dominion’s Lobbyist Money in the General Assembly.

        Until the Republican Party purges the “Pay to Play” politicians elected by Norment and Howell all these years- nothing will change in Richmond. For the voters who don’t understand this- the Republicans have to constantly fund raise to “contribute” to the Republican Pac in return for ‘sweet committee appointments.”

        • Gene the Populist says:

          Yep, Republicans and Democrats in Richmond and Washington are nothing but a cesspool of corrupt power company establishment robots. It’s all about money, and of course keeping the people divided so that we will not unite and rally against them all. You see, if the crooked establishment owned media doesn’t divide the people, the people might just unite anf kick all their sorry asses out of office.

          Trump said Tillerson has his support, translated? That means that just like Tom Price, his ass is out.

  4. Lawrence Wood says:

    I might be just splitting hairs for many at this blog but to “endorse” someone in a political race for elected office is NOT to just simply recommend them as the only viable alternative in a field with no good choices. Why do we keep getting these type of Richmond stamped candidates pushed year after year? Yes, there is a machine process here in the state that is rapidly breaking down but another contributor is the state’s political thought leaders who spend effort generating these type of backhanded sign off approvals election after election cycle.

    I’m not a libertarian party member but if I were I believe I would be investing my endorsements and political vote efforts in candidates that might help certify that libertarian party in future statewide election efforts and leave the Richmond clique to their own devices. Can’t build a future by constantly propping up the past, but I nevertheless understand the Democrats at the gate soundings constantly emanating from the current state Republican Party, it would just sound so much more reasonable to me if they didn’t govern on several critical issues (taxes, economic development, etc so similar once safely ensconced in the Richmond state house. There comes a point in every broken process that the only reasonable thing to do is just say “no mas”.

    • Mac Gregore says:

      The Republicans in Virginia have NO Farm Team. There are no viable candidates or statesmen waiting in the wings to move up to the Big Leagues to run for state or federal office. VA is officially BLUE. And this is Howell and Norment’s fault for controlling the elections and running CRAP for the more than a decade. They run RINOs like Peace and McDougle and Hurt,Goodlatte, and Wittman who are empty vessels.

      Listen to RPV Chairman John Whitbeck’s interview 10-13 on 1140 am radio with Jeff Katz.
      Can’t even give a radio interview he was so ill prepared, incompetent and a complete failure as Chairman.

      Stated VA is blue and we must win ONE OF THE Statewide SEATS in November
      What an admission of failure.

      • Fed up in Crozet says:

        To Mac Gregore:

        Cantor and the VCN is gearing up for a run for Governor in 2021- to keep Denver Riggleman from getting the nomination.

        That’s your ” Farm Team,” buddy.

        Diana Cantor runs Virginia Retirement System- taking in millions in PAC donations in return for investment in the VRS and Cantor wants to be Governor.

        Bob McDonnell and Maureen got nothing over on Eric and Diana.

      • Lawrence Wood says:

        You are correct there is no farm team so we are just going to have to be willing to put forward some individual citizens from outside the party establishment system. Today frankly I’m less concern regarding this approach then I was a decade ago since today even with a stamped “Republican Party” seal of approval you are likely to get just about anything on the political spectrum upon election.

        The major hurdle here is funding and how to move candidates forward without the strangling effect of the corporate PACs and the national parties’ willingness to undercut anti-establishment candidate options by withholding cash. No one has really looked seriously at running a cash sourced internet funded campaign in my opinion that circumvents traditional party influenced funding sources. Even Rep. Brat’s funding efforts against Cantor was fairly small compared to what would be called for to fund a statewide campaign.

        Also building a winning campaign support team would in my opinion require looking outside the state for talent, as there are way too many cozy relationships among the existing in state population of Republican campaign consultants and Florida for example is stock full of good Republican support talent to use just one example. Is this heresy to most embedded state Republican leaders – yes, but no approach or group could fail any more miserably then they have consistently demonstrated over the past decade so my response would be – SO WHAT.

        If we wait for the state apparatus to do this for us we might as well just accept Democratic rule. You don’t think my approach will work, fine, come up with something better, but we do need to come up with something because Richmond sure isn’t going to do so.

        • Big Box says:

          Mr. Wood-

          General Jerry Boykin 2018 for US SENATE. How’s that for thinking outside the Box? You’ve got a YUGE pool of Military Talent sitting down there at the Beach Head.
          Noodle that.

          A retired General Patton could stomp Antifa Tim Kaine’s A** in 2018. Kaine wouldn’t stand a chance.

          That’s what Virginia needs to win again- a man’s man who could win the popular vote.

  5. law firm

    Great tips. This article gives good information about Attorney General. Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Cannon Law

    Always fun to read about local politicians from other states. Wish him luck in his run for office.

  7. Cannon Law


    In this case I believe Adam is doing what is right and what´s legal. And I believe Herring id abanoned his client and should´ve been punished for that reason.

    I´m glad you share what´s going on with us.

  8. Tyler Flood says:


    Herring seems to be a lawyer who likes to take advantage of the law and the government as well. And it seems like he wants to destroy other people´s reputation.

    I also think that Adam´s qualified enough, smart and skillul

  9. Marie P. Johnson

    Excellent comment! The Virginia Republican House and Senate, has pissed away billions by not increasing Medicaid in Virginia. Virginia remains on its knees due to hemoglobin 2313 (the largest tax increase in Virginia history) via Republicans Bob McDonnell, Tommy Norment, Speaker Howell, and their establishment/power company sort of government. Republicans in Washington song to use for seven years regarding repealing Obamacare. Everytime Trump opens his mouth another pack of lies comes off. The US House and Senate ar whole dysfunctional beneath Trump, Ryan, and McConnell………..

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  12. Afton Jackson

    I like that you said that despite being conservative, the lawyer you feature will not involve any politics when he deals with the law. That trait is a good value to practice. We will need criminal law attorney services to deal with my brother’s case to help us out.


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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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