Russ Stone has been practicing criminal law since graduating from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond in 1989. He has handled virtually every sort of criminal case that there is, from traffic offenses to capital murder, as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, and is a veteran of more than 150 jury trials in state and federal courts.
Russ grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia and graduated with a degree in Psychology from Virginia Tech in 1986. Upon graduating law school in 1989, he returned to his hometown as a prosecutor in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, ultimately rising to Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney. Prior to the mid-1990’s, jury trials in criminal cases were much more common than they are now and as a prosecutor Russ would sometimes have two or three jury trials in a week. That sort of experience helped him become a seasoned and experienced trial attorney. While it is certainly true that a jury is sometimes not the best choice in a given situation for a given client, a defense attorney’s ability to handle a jury trial skillfully is often critical to getting the best result for a client, even during the negotiation phase of the process.
In the summer of 1994, Russ moved to Richmond, Virginia and joined the Office of the Attorney General where he handled criminal appeals in the Virginia Court of Appeals and Virginia Supreme Court. In 1996, he joined the Attorney General’s Financial Investigations and Money Laundering Unit and ultimately became Chief Counsel of that Unit in 1998. During that time he prosecuted white collar criminal cases in state courts and in federal courts as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. In 2000, he became the Regional Drug Prosecutor for the Richmond Metropolitan Multi-Jurisdiction Grand Jury prosecuting narcotics related offenses in the Courts of Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover.
After 15 years of government service, he decided it was time to try the other side of the courtroom and went into private practice handling criminal and traffic matters around the Commonwealth. Sometimes people ask him if the switch from prosecutor to defense attorney was difficult. Not at all. The law was the same and the process was the same, but it was eye-opening. Only the defense lawyer gets to really know a person accused of a crime, and that’s made all the difference. Instead of seeing evil in every defendant the way he did as a prosecutor, he now knows that there are a multitude of reasons why people get charged with crimes. Sometimes it’s because they did it. Sometimes it’s because of police error. Sometimes it’s because of misunderstandings that can occur when any two people try to look at a situation. Sometimes it’s more complex. But even when a person is guilty, there is always a reason. Often that reason is the difference between a penitentiary sentence and probation, between jail and a program. Russ has always found the silver lining. There is always some fact or argument that can be explored- that’s the challenge that makes this job interesting. With this broad perspective, Russ enjoys serving as a legal analyst for WRIC Channel 8 in Richmond.
Russ is the father of a wonderful daughter and when not defending folks accused of crimes loves spending time with her as well as reading, watching films and playing guitar.