Special Committee on Access to Legal Services

Joanna L. Suyes, chair

Co-chairs:  Crystal Y. Twitty and James A. Ferguson

Andrea L. Bridgeman
Tara Louise Casey
H. Patrick Cline, Jr.
John Brendon Gately
Eva N. Juncker
Margaret A. Nelson
Grady A. Palmer III
Nancy Marie Reed
James Wilson Speer
Susan J. Stanford-Stoney
Julie M. Strandlie
The Honorable Yvette Ayala Via

Ex-officio:  Mark D. Braley, LSCV Executive Director

VSB staff:
Mary Yancey Spencer, VSB deputy executive director
Maureen K. Petrini, VSB access to legal services director[1]
Paulette J. Davidson, VSB access to legal services staff


The committee met in Richmond on October 5, 2012, December 6, 2012, and February 15, 2013; at the Library of Virginia on April 15, 2013, prior to its Annual Pro Bono Celebration; and informally in Virginia Beach with the Association of Virginia Legal Aid Programs on June 14, 2013. At its April meeting, the committee authorized John Whitfield of Blue Ridge Legal Services to develop and distribute to non-legal aid pro bono providers a survey of, among other things, the number of attorneys volunteering with the respondent programs and the number of hours donated. Results of the survey were presented at the June meeting.

The committee sponsored a Continuing Legal Education program at its Annual Pro Bono Celebration in April. John V. Moeser, professor emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and senior fellow with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond, presented Introduction to the Changing Face of Poverty in the United States including excerpts from The Line, an award-winning documentary directed by Linda Midgett. John Whitfield reviewed the World Justice Project’s 2012 Comparative Rule of Law Index and Virginia’s existing justice gap while examining a lawyer’s ethical obligation under Rule 6.1 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Scott Oostdyk of McGuireWoods LLP, and Ali Fannon, director of programs and development at the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, demonstrated JusticeServer, a new online pro bono database tool. Attendees received 2.5 CLE hours, including 2 hours ethics.


The committee presented the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Pro Bono Award to the volunteer Virginia attorneys affiliated with the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at Marshall-Wythe Law School of the College of William and Mary and the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award to Monica K. Tulchinsky of Washington & Lee University School of Law. VSB President W. David Harless moderated the ceremony at the Annual Pro Bono Celebration.

At the VSB Annual Meeting in June, the committee presented the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award to John Robert Rellick, managing attorney of the Tappahannock office of Rappahannock Legal Services. Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser gave remarks and VSB President W. David Harless moderated the luncheon event.

Other Activities

Committee-sponsored activities open to the public on April 15, 2012, consisted of:

  • Guided tour of the Library of Virginia’s special collections and its exhibit on Law and Justice in Virginia.
  • Guided tour of the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige Jr. United States Courthouse, including an informal meeting with United States Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck.
  • Ceremony for presentation of the Powell and Hill awards at the Library of Virginia followed by an honoree reception at University of Richmond Downtown.

Members Bridgeman, Nelson, and Twitty and Chair Suyes attended the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference in St. Louis, MO, on May 10, 2013.

Two members serve as liaisons to VSB entities: Nelson is a voting member of the Indigent Defense Task Force and Juncker is a member of the board of governors of the Diversity Conference.

Chair Suyes and Member Bridgeman were honored to be invited to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Access to Justice Study Committee which recommended to the Supreme Court that it adopt an Access to Justice Commission in Virginia.

Officers (2013-14):  Joanna L. Suyes, chair; James A. Ferguson and Crystal Y. Twitty, co-chairs.

New Members (2013-14):  Marie Appleby Breimann; Lonnie Dayton Nunley III; Atri Michael Signer; Patricia Marie Sulzbach.

[1] Maureen Petrini retired as Access to Legal Services Director effective the end of February, 2013.


Updated: Jul 09, 2013