Hon. Robert Payne ’63, ’67L Receives Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award The Honorable Robert E. Payne, senior United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), has been awarded the prestigious Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award for 2023 by the Virginia State Bar Section on Criminal Law.
The Honorable Robert E. Payne ’63, ’67L, senior United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), has been awarded the prestigious Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award for 2023 by the Virginia State Bar Section on Criminal Law.
The award, established in 1991, recognizes “an individual (judge, defense attorney, prosecutor, clerk or other citizen) who has made a singular and unique contribution to the improvement of the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Judge Payne will receive the Carrico Award at the 53rd Annual Criminal Law Seminar on February 10 in Williamsburg.
Judge Payne began his legal career in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps before joining McGuireWoods in Richmond, where he worked from 1977 to 1992. Payne was nominated to the bench by President George H.W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 1992, with his nomination reported by then-U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Jacqueline M. Reiner, chair of the VSB Criminal Law Section, nominated Judge Payne for the Carrico Award, writing, “His hallmark trait is his mentorship of his colleagues on the bench, his clerks, and the attorneys who appear before him. He values common sense, compassion, and civility both in the courtroom as well as the community.”
Reiner also wrote that Judge Payne has been influential in clarifying the Eastern District’s criminal discovery disclosure obligations as set forth in Beckford and its progeny, and she noted that in her interactions with him, “His intellect and compassion is apparent in each and every proceeding.”
Richard Cullen, counselor to Governor Glenn Youngkin, has known Judge Payne for 45 years since their early days together at McGuireWoods. Cullen expressed his deep admiration for Judge Payne’s court, writing, “First, litigants know that he will be so well prepared that they better leave nothing to chance. Second, he teaches trial combatants to be civil with each other — conduct that is desperately needed in today’s world.”
Judge Payne was a litigator at McGuireWoods for many years becoming a judge in 1992. He took senior status in 2007 but continues to hear cases in the Eastern District. During his career, Judge Payne has heard many significant cases, and his decisions often set the parameters of criminal litigation in the district. For example, one of his decisions is cited in the discovery order used in every single case heard in the Eastern District.
Past recipients of the Carrico Professionalism Award include the Hon. Junius P. Fulton III of the Virginia Court of Appeals, Philip J. Hirschkop, who argued Loving v. Virginia before the Supreme Court of the United States, and Oliver W. Hill, the African American civil rights attorney who helped end the “separate but equal” doctrine and later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Last year’s recipient was the Hon. Donald W. Lemons, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, who served at every level of the Virginia judiciary and was an early advocate for drug courts designed to help non-violent offenders with addiction issues. Justice Lemons also taught a popular appellate advocacy practicum at W&L Law for many years.
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