Group to VA Bar: Probe Fairfax DA Steve Descano’s Ethics Violations

Descano Faces Sanctions, Disbarment for Legal Misconduct per Complaint

Fairfax, VA – Today, Virginians for Safe Communities (VSC) joined with notable concerned citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia to ask the Virginia State Bar to launch an inquiry into serious and recurring instances of misconduct by the office of the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney, Steve Descano.

The letter, signed by VSC President Sean Kennedy and prominent citizens including a former federal prosecutor, states:

Mr. Descano, as the leader of the office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney, has engaged in serious matters of professional misconduct that constitute a violation of the VSB’s Professional Guidelines. We ask the Bar to investigate these violations of ethical codes of conduct and take the necessary disciplinary action as soon as possible. As Mr. Descano’s position as the county’s chief prosecutor affords him great power to represent the Commonwealth and its citizens in criminal matters, it is urgent that the VSB investigate and impose appropriate sanctions accordingly.

Read the Bar Complaint Letter Here (Link)

The letter alleges that under Descano’s leadership, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office for Fairfax County has engaged in unconstitutional and unethical behavior that perverts the course of justice. Over his tenure, two separate Fairfax County Circuit judges have rebuked Descano’s office for withholding exculpatory evidence in high-profile, high-stakes cases — one involving a murder and another concerning a police officer charged with assault. Doing so violates the US Supreme Court’s Brady v. Maryland decision (1963) standard and the Virginia State Bar’s own rules for attorneys and specifically for prosecutors (Rule 3.8)

In addition to Descano leading an office that has repeatedly violated the rights of the accused and his ethical obligations as a prosecutor, Descano’s office has actively misled judges about those instances of misconduct, earning his office the ire of judges.

The complaint concludes by noting that then-candidate Descano pledged to bring transparency to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office yet his actions belie this pledge.

Commonwealth’s Attorneys are subject to sanctions by the state bar. In 2019, the former Lancaster County (VA) Commonwealth’s Attorney Jan C. Smith had his license to practice law suspended for misconduct in office for a year and a day.

Virginians for Safe Communities and concerned citizens across the Commonwealth await the Virginia State Bar’s investigation and swift and appropriate actions.

The letter’s signers include the president of Virginians for Safe Communities, Sean Kennedy, former federal prosecutor and adjunct Georgetown University law professor, William Otis, George Landrith, president of the Frontiers of Freedom, and Chuck Cunningham, an experienced government affairs expert.

Virginians for Safe Communities advocates for commonsense policies that will keep our families safe. To learn more, visit
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