A Charlottesville-area defense attorney who practices in Greene County was issued a public reprimand without terms on April 7, according to a release from the Virginia State Bar.
Janice Lynn Redinger, who has practiced law for more than 30 years, was issued the reprimand “for violating professional rules that govern fairness to opposing party and counsel. This was an agreed disposition of misconduct charges,” the release said.
The issue stems from a case in Greene County relating to charges against Commissioner of Revenue Larry Snow and his son, Bryant Snow, charged with multiple counts of identity theft and obstruction of justice in both Orange and Greene counties, where the alleged offenses occurred. The case was consolidated under Judge Dale B. Durrer, though separate court files were maintained in the different clerks’ offices.
Redinger was representing Larry Snow in the case.
According to stipulation of facts in court records at the Virginia State Bar Clerk’s Office, Redinger filed a discovery request early last year. Ray Fitzgerald, who had been appointed special prosecutor due to the elder Snow’s position in the county as an elected official, objected to the request. Judge Durrer ordered the commonwealth to submit the items “in camera” and under seal. In camera is a legal term that refers to a hearing or inspection of document that takes place in private, often in a judge’s chambers.
The documents from the state bar note that Redinger opened the envelope when she discovered it while reviewing the case file in the Orange County Clerk’s Office. Fitzgerald had submitted the items in a plain, manila envelope that was sealed with tape. On the front of the envelope, which was face down, were the words “sealed material for court’s in camera review.” Redinger said then and in a previous motions hearing she did not see the words on the front. Redinger removed the items in the envelope and shared them with the co-defendant’s counsel.
While the envelope did not contain the items Redinger requested, it did contain Fitzgerald’s notes, including a description of the items she wanted and, in some cases, detailed his argument as to why the commonwealth believed those items were not subject to discovery.
“The parties stipulate that (Redinger) did not review the material in the file to gain unfair advantage in the matter and she did not hide her actions,” according to the disposition from the state bar. “(Redinger) asserts that she made a copy of the document because she believed that (Fitzgerald’s) submission constituted improper ex parte communication with the court and filed a motion to disqualify the Orange County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Office from further proceedings in the case and filed a motion to unseal the documents.”
Judge Durrer recused himself from the case in April 2019.
The state bar determined Redinger violated Rule 3.4 Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel, specifically “a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey or advise a client to disregard a standing rule or a ruling of a tribunal made in the course of a proceeding, but the lawyer may take steps, in good faith, to test the validity of such rule or ruling.”
The charges against the Snows were elevated to federal court, where they were indicted last October.
According to the Virginia State Bar, a public reprimand declares Redinger’s conduct improper, but it does not limit her right to practice law. Redinger has had no prior disciplinary record, according to the bar.