Henrico Bar News
February 2013
Henrico County Bar Association
P.O. Box 70147
Richmond, Virginia 23255

From the Desk of Marissa Mitchell, HCBA President


It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of the HCBA.  Since this is my last newsletter, I want to take this opportunity to thank our administrator, Mary Lou Wellman, the Board of Directors, the Henrico County Judges, and the members at large for their tremendous support this year.  The HCBA could not have had this year full of successful events without you all.  There are still many events yet to come as you'll see on our Calendar of Events. 


We've had great turnouts at our CLE programs as well as our fabulous holiday cocktail party.  Unfortunately, the turnout for our December special assembly to endorse nominees for judicial vacancies was disappointing given that this was our only opportunity to voice an opinion.  We have had several General Assembly members request the HCBA's input in this process.  Next time, I strongly encourage you to participate.    


The HCBA has also provided some terrific community outreach opportunities for its members.  The Henrico Court Docent Program remains a favorite for many attorney volunteers, and this year we added the Rule of Law Program.  We appreciate Tony Pham's hard work in organizing the HCBA's first Rule of Law program which was held at Pocahontas Middle School.  In case you missed it, I hope you will check out the news story at http://www.nbc12.com/story/20204056/henrico-students-introduced-to-the-rule-of-law.  It is a great program in its infancy for the HCBA.  I hope that it expands and gets even better!


Finally, we plan to have the HCBA online directory available soon.  It will be included as part of an update to our website later this year. 


As always, please contact me or a Board member if you have any suggestions.  I hope to see you at an upcoming HCBA event!



Marissa Mitchell


Holiday Cocktail Party


The HCBA's Annual Holiday Cocktail Party was held at Willow Oaks Country Club on Thursday, December 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Over 80 HCBA members and guests attended, as well as a great number of our judges. Bart Chucker and his band entertained, and delicious hors d'oevres and cocktails were provided by Willow Oaks Country Club.  We thank our good friends at Bizport for sponsoring this event. 


Past President John Mizell, Judge Wallerstein, President Marissa Mitchell and Elizabeth Robertson


Melissa Nichols, President-Elect Jon Nichols and Vice President Carl Schwertz


Judge Steverson and Harry Shaia


Vice President Carl Schwertz, Judge Marshall, Judge Herman and Senator Don McEachin


Harris and Lisa Leiner with Clint and Kelly Verity


Rule of Law Program


On November 19, 2012, the Henrico County Bar Association partnered with the Henrico County Division of Police to present the Rule of Law Program to the middle school classes at Pocahontas Middle School.  The mission of the Rule of Law Project is to enhance the way students learn about the rule of law as the basis of all of our rights and responsibilities as American citizens. 


Five pairs of attorneys were partnered with a law enforcement official to discuss fact patterns developed with the standards of learning in mind.  Prior to the breakout sessions, the students were treated to an "all star" line-up of guest speakers.  This year's event featured the following guest speakers:  The Honorable Kenneth Cuccinelli, The Honorable Cleo Powell and The Honorable G. Manoli Loupassi.


The Rule of Law was a successful event where the students learned about the three branches of our government while interacting with professionals in their respective fields.  However, such an event would not have been possible had it not been for the volunteer efforts of the attorneys from the Henrico County Bar Association. 


President Marissa Mitchell and Vice President Carl Schwertz along with Henrico County law enforcement present fact patterns to students


Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo Powell and Delegate Manoli Loupassi prepare to address Pocahontas Middle School students


Thanks to all the volunteers who participated in the Rule of Law Program


Bench-Bar CLE


Approximately 70 HCBA members registered for the Bench-Bar CLE held on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Henrico County Board of Supervisors' Board Room.  This year's Bench-Bar CLE was a two-part seminar.  Ned Davis, Bar Counsel for the Virginia State Bar, presented "Recent Developments in the Law: Ethics, Professional Regulation."  Also, "The Aging Attorney: Options and Duties," was presented by Barbara A. Williams, Deputy General Counsel, McGuire Woods; James E. Leffler, Executive Director, Lawyers Helping Lawyers; and Renu M. Brennan, Assistant Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar.  We were delighted to have judges from all three Henrico Courts participate in this event.  We thank Judge Wallerstein, Judge Yoffy, Judge Yeatts, Judge Williams and Judge Johnson who were present to answer questions and give their "views from the bench." 


Ned Davis discusses professional regulation


Barbara Williams, James Leffler and Renu Brennan address issues pertaining to the aging attorney




We had a wonderful turnout at the HCBA's Ethics CLE that was held on Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Henrico County Board of Supervisors' Board Room.  The seminar explored the relationship of ethical compliance and malpractice avoidance.  There were great discussions illustrating how a program that was developed, using the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct as a foundation, assists in minimizing the chances that a lawyer will commit an error that will lead to a malpractice claim.  We thank our friends Timothy Gephart, Vice President of Claims, and Tom Auth, Esq., Regional Sales Director, of Minnesota Lawyers Mutual for presenting this worthwhile CLE.


Anne Hill, Michele Mulligan and Tom Auth present on ethical compliance and malpractice avoidance


Tim Gephart addresses the HCBA


Member Spotlight

Full Name:  Carlos LeMont Hopkins


Employer and Position:  Hopkins Law Offices, P.C./Owner


College:  The Citadel-The Military College of South Carolina


Law School:  University of Richmond-T.C. Williams School of Law


Years in Practice:  16


Hobbies and Interests:  Golf, running


Favorite Movie:   So many to choose from and none are Oscar worthy. Right now it's "Ted" but that may change next week.


Favorite Book:  Books? People still read those?! I mainly stick with magazines and newspapers.


Favorite Pro and College Sports Team:  Pro--Pittsburgh Steelers

                                                                College--all Citadel sports


One Thing You Might Not Know About Me:  I was an All-Conference sprinter in college and will still drop everything to watch track and field on TV.       


Best Thing About Practicing Law in Henrico:  I get to practice where I live. Great bench-bar relationships and efficiently run courts.


Funniest Experience as an Attorney:  As a criminal attorney, there are too many to name. Plus, since they usually involve clients, judges or other attorneys, I'll take the 5th on this one.


Advice to Young Attorneys:  Never think you know it all.  As soon as you do, on July 1 the General Assembly will change it.  Keep reviewing the Code and find a good mentor you can go to for help.


Full Name:  S. Keith Barker


Employer and Position:  S. Keith Barker, P.C./President


College:  Randolph-Macon College 1977


Law School:  University of Richmond Law School 1980


Years in Practice:  32


Hobbies and Interests:  Photography, hiking, traveling


Favorite Movie:  The Good Shepherd           


Favorite Book:  "Traitor to his Class", by H.W. Brands


Favorite Pro and College Sports Team:  Washington Nationals,  RMC Yellow Jackets


One Thing You Might Not Know About Me:  Part of my college employment experience was working on a farm (think clearing land, pulling stumps, plowing fields, etc.) . It gave me a real appreciation for how smart, determined, and lucky you have to be to operate a financially successful farming operation. Often whether you have a profit or loss for an entire year turns on what crop you chose to plant and the amount of rain you get in a three week period.


Best Thing About Practicing Law in Henrico:  The depth of talent of lawyers who practice in Henrico County, not to mention the fact that we have conscientious, smart judges who really work hard to get it right.


Funniest Experience as an Attorney:  My client's reaction after she was awarded a sizeable jury verdict. The jury was dismissed, and court was adjourned. Defense counsel and I exchanged pleasantries, and he started walking out of the court room.  My client looked at me with a shocked expression and asked "Where's he going? He hasn't given us the check!" If it were only that simple.


Advice to Young Attorneys:  If someone comes to you for a second opinion, get all of the facts and think twice before criticizing how another lawyer has handled a case. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback without fully taking into consideration the conditions and circumstances in which past decisions were made. 

Save the Dates


Annual Spring Luncheon

Thursday, March 14, 2013,

12:00 p.m.

Westwood Club


Dr. Edward L. Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, will be our keynote speaker at the Spring Luncheon. He will speak on the topic "Where did Freedom come from?"


Dr Ayers is a noted historian, an award winning author and an accomplished teacher.  He keeps history alive by utilizing today's technology in projects such as creating a digital atlas of American history as well as co-hosting "Backstory," a nationally syndicated radio show that ties history to the present day.


Watch for your invitation in your inbox soon.


A big thank you to SELTEK Inc. for sponsoring this event!




Legislative Update CLE

Wednesday, April 10, 2013,

4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Westwood Club


7th Annual John Garrett Memorial Golf Tournament

Thursday, May 30, 2013,

1:30 p.m.

The Crossings Golf Club

Proceeds will benefit Comfort Zone Camp.


The Hon. John A. Garrett


Annual Spring Banquet 
Thursday, May 23, 2013,

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Dominion Club 






In This Issue
Holiday Cocktail Party
Rule of Law Program
Bench-Bar CLE
Ethics CLE
Member Spotlight
Court Docent Program
Members on the Move
Clerk's Corner
Pro Bono Award




Henrico Court Docent Program--Volunteer Opportunity


We have two volunteer opportunities with the Henrico Court Docent Program.  We need an attorney to assist the docents in escorting the students and teachers to the courts on April 9 with Fairfield Middle School and April 16 with Hungary Creek Middle School.  The time commitment is from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  If you are interested in volunteering or would like to learn more, please contact Marissa Mitchell at 501-5734 or mit06@co.henrico.va.us or Angela Boice Axselle at 565-3522 or aaxselle@goodmanallen.com.








Members on the Move


Benjamin N. Spence, Clinton w. Verity and Emily B. Wigner have joined the law firm of Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman as associates. They will concentrate their practice in general civil litigation, including motor vehicle, premises and products liability.


Carrie Witter has joined the law firm of Coates & Davenport.  She will be practicing in all areas of family law as well as collaborative law.


If you have recently changed jobs or been promoted, please share the move with the Henrico Bar.  We would like to post your announcement in our newsletter and update your member profile.  Announcements can be emailed to Mary Lou Wellman at admin@henricobar.org.  Please include your name, firm or company's name, new title and areas of concentration.  




Welcome New Members
Samuel Baronian, Jr.
Adrienne N. Barnes
Thomas Michael Blanks, Jr.
Lester C. Brock
Audrey J. Burges
Robin Desrosier
Barbara H. Earp
David J. Esposito
Misty Evans
Robin S. Gnatowsky
Carlos L. Hopkins
 Linda Lambert
Jeffrey P. Matthews
Wilson Mustian
Irvine L. Reaves
Nerissa N. Rouzer
Stephen Sharpe
Benjamin N. Spence
George Brian Tacey 
Clinton W. Verity




Officers and Directors



Marissa D. Mitchell



Jon A. Nichols


Vice President

Carl R. Schwertz



Michael Y. Feinmel



J. T. (Tom) Tokarz


Immediate Past-President

Michael J. Rothermel



Angela Boice Axelle

Martin A. Conn

D. Brooks Hundley

Tony H. Pham

Suzanne Wade


Mary Lou Wellman






Clerk's Corner


JDR Court

-a message from Rebecca Cone


Reminder to all court appointed attorneys and guardians ad litem -Time sheets must be turned in at the conclusion of the case.

The Judges' luncheon will be on March 1, 2013 at noon at the J&DR Court.  Please RSVP to jtrobinson@courts.state.va.us if you would like to attend.

As of February 1, 2013, all positions in the Clerk's Office are filled.  Thank you to all attorneys for their patience and understanding while we sought out new positions and filled them!

Circuit Court

-a message from Yvonne Smith


Effective immediately, a cover sheet will be required on all Civil cases filed in this office.  It has been requested that this office capture information for the supreme Court contained on the cover sheet.  the from can be found at the following website:






Nominations for Pro Bono Award


The HCBA Pro Bono Committee is seeking nominations for its first annual Pro Bono Award. This award will recognize an HCBA member who has made a significant contribution in delivering pro bono legal services or has facilitated improved understanding of, or access to, the legal system through educational, participatory or outreach services. The Pro Bono Award will be presented at the Annual Banquet this spring. Please send your nominations by March 29, 2013 to Angela Axselle at aaxselle@goodmanallen.com or fax to 804-346-5954 or to Suzanne Wade at suzanne.wade@dss.virginia.gov. Please include the following information:

  • Name, office, address, email address and telephone number of the Nominee,
  • A summary about the Nominee including a description of the pro bono work the Nominee has done in the last year, and
  • Your contact information.