When I was admitted off the waiting list two days before Washington and Lee University Law School started, the Dean told me, "You are a marginal candidate, but if you really want to come, you can come." I saw that as a challenge to achieve, but in a class of high-achievers, this was not an easy task. By nature, I sat on the back-row seat and usually felt too intimidated to say much. Had I only had a tutor along the way to guide and advise me on the theory and intricacies of law as well as how it really works in practice, I know I would have had the confidence to better compete and hold my own. I still managed to graduate in the top quarter of my class, but it was a struggle. To help the next generation of students fill in that missing gap is something I am passionate about. So for the past 15 years, I have taught trial advocacy, criminal law, criminal procedure, and comparative criminal law to prosecutors and law students in the U.S. and overseas.
I started off my career as a Navy JAG, serving in the Philippines. Not by plan, but by good fortune I ended up as a DOJ federal prosecutor, rising to become the Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney in New Orleans. Along the way, I served as lead prosecutor in a number of complex fraud, corruption, customs, and international drug trafficking investigations and trials. I was on the trial team that convicted the former Governor of Louisiana in a five month-long racketeering and corruption trial. I also put my skills to use as a defense attorney. In a case I was very proud of, I secured a not-guilty verdict for an indigent client on homicide charges in a multi-defendant, six-week federal racketeering jury trial. Federal criminal trial work is hard and complex, involving legal research and writing on innumerable issues, particularly the 4th and 5th Amendment. But the payoff is in the verdict, and there is no more thrilling moment -- for better or worse -- in a trial lawyer's life than when the judge says to the jury foreman, "Has the jury reached a verdict?"
But I had the most fun working for 12 years as a Legal Attache in U.S. Embassies in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. I designed and implemented rule-of-law programs to assist host countries improve prosecutorial capacity to combat high-priority criminal activity, help strengthen independent judiciaries, and develop new criminal procedure codes. As part of that process, I ran over a hundred week-long training programs for local prosecutors in trial advocacy, leadership, human rights, and a variety of criminal justice subjects ranging from financial investigations to anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, and asset forfeiture.
The best advice I ever got was from a senior whose job I was assuming upon his transfer. He said to me, "Do three things: Accomplish the mission; leave everything in better shape than you found it; and have fun while doing it." And that is my goal for you and me.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Virginia-Main Campus - Bachelor in Arts, History
Graduate Degree: Washington and Lee University - Juris Doctor, Criminal Justice
Traveling -- have visited over 70 countries. Skiing and Hiking -- have skied and hiked in the Rockies, Alps, Caucasus, Himalayas, and the Altai Mountains. Dogs and cats -- have owned German Shepherds, a Golden Retriever, and today an Australian Terrier, as well as a long line of semi-feral-domesticated cats.