H. Eugene Oliver, III (Harrisonburg, VA)

H. Eugene Oliver, III (Harrisonburg, VA) Photo
Eugene Oliver is a candidate for Director in NACDL's 2022 election, nominated by the Nominating Committee.

I am seeking a position on the NACDL Board of Directors. I have attended numerous NACDL seminars, most recently the midwinter meeting in Austin, Texas and have consistently been impressed with not only the quality of programming but the quality of NACDL’s members and staff. It has been a rewarding experience to make friends and professional connections among such an esteemed group. I also participated in the Supreme Court swearing-in ceremony in 2019.  

I have extensive experience with my state’s affiliate organization as I served as President of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2021 and have been on the Board of Directors since 2018. During my time in VACDL, I have organized CLEs, taught at CLEs, participated in lobbying on several criminal justice reforms (including successful efforts in abolishing mandatory jury sentencing, probation reform, and eliminating presumptions against bond to name a few), and advocating for renewed commitment to criminal and social justice within our organization. I am currently the chair of VACDL’s judicial nominations and indigent representation committees. 

In addition to my work with VACDL, I maintain an active and busy criminal defense practice. My primary jurisdiction does not have a public defender’s office, so I handle a significant number of court appointed indigent cases in addition to my privately retained work. I have advocated for improving compensation in indigent cases and for increasing resources available to indigent defendants, including bills on increasing access to mental health defenses. Some of my most rewarding work has been defending indigent clients and giving them a zealous defense that they didn’t expect from their “free attorney.” I am a big believer in trying cases and would work to strengthen NACDL’s efforts to eliminate the trial penalty. I took the lead within VACDL in advocating for SB5007 in 2020 which led to the once unthinkable elimination of mandatory jury sentencing in Virginia, which was one of the biggest deterrents to the constitutional right to a trial in Virginia.  

One of the proudest parts of my career has been seeing the positive effects of changes and the efforts through a voluntary organization have had on the day to day lives of my clients and colleagues for the better and that cases are getting tried that would never have been tried a few years ago. It is with that spirit and motivation that I would approach all I do as a member of the NACDL Board of Directors to make sure that our members are equipped with the best tools to counter the inequities of our criminal justice system and provide actual justice to our clients within that system. 

On a personal note, I am married and the proud father to twins, who turn 7 in June. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college (and subsequently law school), graduating with a B.A. from the College of William & Mary in 2005 and the George Washington University Law School in 2008. 

I appreciate the consideration of the nominating committee and look forward to having an opportunity to serve NACDL on the Board of Directors.

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