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Fairfax County prosecutor-turned-defense attorney challenges Descano for Democratic nomination

Defense attorney Ed Nuttall announces he will campaign to be the Democratic nominee for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney (via ABC7)

(Updated at 5:50 p.m.) A former Fairfax County prosecutor who now practices as a private defense lawyer has joined the commonwealth’s attorney race.

Ed Nuttall launched a campaign yesterday (Monday) to challenge incumbent Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano for the Democratic nomination, which will be determined by a primary election on June 20.

“I have spent the last twenty six years living in and trying every kind of case imaginable in Fairfax County. I know how a courtroom works, how to run an effective office, and how to bring people together to keep our communities safe,” Nuttall said in an announcement in front of the Fairfax County Courthouse. “My opponent has shown over the last three years that he clearly doesn’t — that’s why I’m stepping up to run.”

According to his campaign, Nuttall has worked as a trial lawyer for over 26 years.

He joined the county’s commonwealth’s attorney office in 1999, prosecuting criminal and traffic cases, before becoming a member of the Tysons-based firm Briglia Hundley in 2003. In 2015, he launched the private firm Carroll & Nuttall with John Carroll — also a former prosecutor. The firm handles criminal, civil and family law.

During his announcement, Nuttall and his supporters argued that Descano’s “idea of justice for all abandons victims of crime and ignores community safety,” criticisms that have been frequently leveled at Descano and his counterparts in Arlington and Loudoun since they were all elected in 2019 on promises of progressive reforms.

In a statement on Nuttall’s announcement, Descano lambasted his opponent as having “spent the last 20 years of his career defending bad cops that give our good police departments a black eye.”

Nuttall has “represented law enforcement in over twenty police shooting cases since 2002, serving as General Counsel to the Fraternal Order of Police Fairfax Lodge 77,” according to his official bio.

“In a time when Democrats nationwide are grappling with the need for police reform, to have the police union’s on-the-payroll defense attorney pretend to be an independent actor when it comes to holding bad cops accountable is a farce that Democrats in Fairfax County will see through,” Descano said. “My relationship with the police is a good one because they know I’m a trustworthy partner in public safety and that I won’t hesitate to hold bad cops accountable which is something all good officers want.”

Descano confirmed to FFXnow that he will run for reelection in December and officially launched his campaign last month.

Nuttall announced yesterday that he has already won the support of Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34), who are both seeking reelection this year.

In statements, Petersen commended Nuttell as “an experienced trial lawyer that understands how the courtroom works,” while Kincaid said “he has the experience and the integrity needed to do the job.”

“We are living in a time where criminal justice reform is on everyone’s mind,” Kincaid said. “It’s not enough to simply talk about progress. It’s important that we make progress.  To make progress, you have to have the competence to get real things done.”

Photo via ABC7

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