August 17, 2022


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Dinwiddie chief prosecutor says brain injury led her to step

Dinwiddie chief prosecutor says brain injury led her to step

Ann Cabell Baskervill said she sustained a traumatic brain injury resulting from a fall in April and medical personnel advised her to step down temporarily as Dinwiddie County commonwealth’s attorney to give her adequate time for recovery.

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Baskervill notified the 11th Judicial Circuit’s chief judge on June 30 that she currently is unable to perform her duties, which led to the court’s appointment of an acting commonwealth’s attorney for 90 days. The Virginia State Bar on Wednesday subsequently suspended indefinitely Baskervill’s law license due to impairment.

Following Richmond Times-Dispatch stories on Saturday and Sunday about the developments, Baskervill issued a statement Sunday through her attorney, Jeffrey Geiger. In it, she said she looks forward to returning to her elected post after completing treatment.

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“My family and I are so very appreciative of the outpouring of support and prayers,” Baskervill said. “Both our local community and the legal community have reached out in such meaningful ways and we thank you.”

The nature of Baskervill’s impairment was not publicly disclosed until her Sunday statement. The Times-Dispatch reached out to Baskervill and her attorney on Friday but received no remarks.

“Stepping down from my responsibilities temporarily was advised by ER doctors and my treating physician, as well as the Virginia State Bar,” Baskervill said. “I suffered a severe concussion from a fall in April which resulted in a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. The doctors have advised me that rest and immediate continued treatment are crucial for my recovery.”

Chief Judge Paul Cella of the 11th Judicial Circuit appointed Colonial Heights Senior Commonwealth’s Attorney Erin Barr on July 1 to serve as Dinwiddie’s acting commonwealth’s attorney for at least 90 days. In her letter to the judge, Baskervill said her condition requires up to three months of treatment.

Barr is assuming the role at a critical time for the prosecutor’s office and the courts, which are dealing with a backlog of criminal cases that include eight people charged with murder. Colonial Heights Commonwealth’s Attorney Gray Collins and Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor have agreed to assist by assigning members of their staffs to prosecute six of the eight homicide cases.

“This accident created a perfect storm,” Baskervill said. “Jury trials were being set following an extended hold due to COVID, the county had numerous homicide charges pending to be brought to trial and recent changes in state law imposed greater time consuming duties on prosecutors.”

“Our office, like many, is underfunded and understaffed to respond to such an acute situation as when the elected prosecutor is challenged with health concerns,” she added. “This is particularly so in the case of traumatic brain injury, which gets worse — and indeed did get worse — without the rest and immediate treatment advised by health care providers. I tried very hard to recover without stepping aside.”

Baskervill said she’s “extremely grateful” for Barr stepping in and filling the role in her absence. She said she’s also grateful to Collins and Taylor for providing prosecutors from their offices to handle cases.

“I believe strongly in our system of justice and am blessed to have colleagues who are committed to ensuring our role is fulfilled,” she said.

Baskervill’s impairment suspension issued by the State Bar will remain in effect “until it is established that she no longer suffers from impairment,” the order states. Baskervill will be required to petition the Bar to have her license reinstated.