February 18, 2010
Retired Appeals Court Judge Receives Criminal Law Section’s Carrico Award
The Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section has presented its 2010 Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award to retired judge Jere M.H. “Mac” Willis Jr. of Fredericksburg, who served on the Virginia Court of Appeals.
The award was presented on Feb. 12, 2010, during the section’s 40th Annual Criminal Law Seminar in Williamsburg. Reno S. Harp III, retired chief counsel to the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission and a previous Carrico Award winner, was the keynote speaker.
In presenting this year’s award, section Chair Richard E. Trodden, commonwealth’s attorney for Arlington County, said Willis embodies the characteristics the award was created to recognize: a commitment to the ideals of professionalism in the practice of law and the administration of justice in Virginia; a unique contribution to the improvement of the criminal justice system, and dedication to excellence through competence, fairness, integrity, and courtesy.
The award was named for a former Virginia Supreme Court chief justice who promoted the ideals of professionalism during his 42 years on the state’s highest court.
Willis is a Fredericksburg native, the grandson, son, and father of lawyers. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hampden-Sydney College and a law degree from the University of Virginia. He served on the Fredericksburg City Council and in 1963 was elected commonwealth’s attorney — then a part-time position.
In 1975, the General Assembly elected him to a judgeship in the 15th judicial circuit. In 1989, the assembly elevated him to the Court of Appeals, from which he retired in 2002.
Two of his four sons became lawyers, and one — Gordon F. Willis — is now a judge in the 15th circuit.
In a 2003 retirement profile, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star quoted Russell H. Roberts, a lawyer and friend of the senior Willis since 1960: “Like all lawyers did in those days, he did everything he could to help me out. … It’s a way of life for the Willises to do things honestly and straightforwardly and, interestingly enough, gently. He was never harsh, even as a commonwealth’s attorney.”
Updated: Feb 18, 2010