Local criminal defense attorney Tracey Lenox has been selected to serve as chief public defender for the newly created Prince William County Public Defenders’ office.
Lenox has been a practicing attorney in and around Prince William County for more than 26 years and currently serves as president of the Prince William County Bar Association. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the University of Connecticut Law School.
Lenox was also a Democratic candidate for Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2019 but lost that bid in the June primary to current Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth (D).
The new public defenders’ office will serve Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park beginning sometime after July 1, although it is unclear when the office will open.
Prince William County is the largest locality in Virginia that does not have a public defenders’ office. Public defenders’ offices are state-funded and provide legal representation to individuals who can’t afford a lawyer.
The state is providing $5.4 million in funding for the new office over the next two years for 35 full-time positions including 24 attorneys.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-2nd, and Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, carried legislation to create the new office during this year’s legislative session. The new office received support from Gov. Ralph Northam and was passed with bipartisan support in the House of Delegates and state Senate.
Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, a Northern Virginia faith-based advocacy organization, spearheaded the effort to create the new office.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors included $350,000 in their 2021 budget for a 15% salary supplement for the public defenders’ office. The boost in salary will make attorneys’ salaries more competitive with other Northern Virginia localities.
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