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Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Community Academy By Amy Jackson

35 Alexandria Residents Complete Inaugural Course

The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (OCA) hosted its inaugural Community Academy in early November at the Franklin P. Backus Courthouse, adding the OCA to the list of other well-attended Alexandria Community Academies presented by The Alexandria Police Foundation, The Citizen’s Academy at City Hall, Senior Services, and the Fire Department.

The class registered about 35 civic-minded class participants, and the assigned courtroom for the one 3-hour evening session was a full house.

The initial mood was celebratory, but then studious – congratulating the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Bryan Porter, on his re-election to his second four-year term, followed by a classroom so quiet, not to miss a detail of the fast-paced lesson plan.

The introductory program was designed for Alexandria’s citizens as a tutorial in the prosecutorial process.

The three featured speakers were: Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney (CA), Assistant CA Sean Sherlock, and, with a special focus on crime victims, Shondel Adams and Judy Holl, the Director of the Victim Witness Assistance Program.  CA Sherlock, who was this evening’s program coordinator, focused on his role as Line Assistant in the OCA.

Porter highlighted the function of his office, a lesson in citizen interactions with police and how that affects cases, and a brief overview of the Charles Severance case, which brought a national spotlight to the Alexandria trial tried two years ago.

The goal of the evening was an ambitious one in terms of timing vs. the material to be covered.  With the engagement of the attendees, along with the enthusiasm of the presenters, it was a challenge.  However, it proved to be an intriguing presentation that only generated more interest.  As this community academy continues forward, its’ popularity will only increase and become another staple of civic engagement within our community.

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