2014 Virginia Legal Elite – Criminal Law
Andrew Michael Sacks
Sacks & Sacks PC, Norfolk
Title: Managing partner
Other legal specialties: Plaintiffs personal injury litigation
Education: Bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Dartmouth College; law degree, University of Virginia School of Law
Children: Noah , 23; Stella, 21; Marlena, 18; Vera, 15; Aurora, 14
Hobbies or pastimes: Snow skiing; traveling
First job as a lawyer: Associate at Sacks & Sacks
Fan of: Seattle Seahawks
Favorite vacation spot: Zermatt, Switzerland
Recently read book: “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell
Career mentor: My father and partner, Stanley E. Sacks, Esquire
What was your most interesting criminal case?
My most interesting criminal law case involved my representation in 1987 of a 15-year-old who was completely hearing and speech impaired, could only communicate via sign language and an interpreter, and was charged with capital murder. The teenager was innocent of any crimes. However, he could not effectively articulate his innocence or defend himself because of his physical handicaps. He was actually only a witness to a murder committed by another hearing- and speech-impaired teenager. After being declared incompetent and being in competency restoration efforts for five years, the court ultimately dismissed the charges against him. Justice was served, even though it required a very circuitous and lengthy route to arrive there.
Is the U.S. sending too many people to prison?
Yes, in my opinion, the United States is sending too many people to prison. America is a vast and diverse nation with many complex problems and situations. Accordingly, there is much human interaction, and that necessarily means that a variety of crime is going to occur in such a large country. However, there is too much reliance upon jail as an easy way out of the more complex social problems that give rise to crime in America. Much of our public resources directed towards incarceration could be used to treat, educate and rehabilitate offenders so that they will not commit crimes again, instead of simply jailing people. Jail is destructive in and of itself to many people and is not a panacea for all of our social problems. We need to develop, explore, and utilize more alternatives to incarceration than we currently do.