New Circuit Court Judge David Bernhard Receives Official Commission Sept. 8

Aug. 31, 2017

News Highlights

  • David Bernhard receives official commission as a Fairfax Circuit Court judge on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m.
  • Born in El Salvador, he is the first immigrant from Latin America elected to the Circuit Court bench in Virginia
  • Some of his cases as an attorney contributed to changes to the Code of Virginia.

Circuit Court Judge David BernhardDavid Bernhard will be presented his official commission as a Fairfax Circuit Court judge on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. at the Fairfax Courthouse, Courtroom 5J, 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax. The public is invited to attend the investiture ceremony.

At the ceremony, State Del. David B. Albo will present the official commission and Judge Patricia A. Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit will ceremonially administer the oath.  

Prior to his election to the Circuit Court, Bernhard was an attorney with a wide-ranging career spanning 27+ years. Admitted in Virginia, Maryland, DC, Missouri (inactive), he tried hundreds of jury trials and thousands of misdemeanors, including complex litigation. His practice focused on criminal and civil litigation, juvenile, uncontested divorce and appellate cases. Bernhard's trial practice included handling difficult cases such as a murder case that was only the second instance of a jury trial being televised in the history of the Fairfax Circuit Court, engendering debate as to the circumstances under which cameras ought to be allowed in a courtroom. 

Notable matters he handled included challenging admissibility of certificates of analysis offered without the presence of a technician in DUI prosecutions and confronting problems with enforcement of Northern Virginia toll road civil penalty cases, in each case contributing to the enactment of changes to the Code of Virginia. His appeals include Virginia's first civil Gideon case, culminating in amending legislation; the Benitez decision policing abusive litigation practices; and the Kim opinion, providing a bright line test as to when private property is subject to the traffic laws of Virginia applicable to "statutory highways."

Bernhard helped reconstitute and was co-chair (2011 to 2014) of the Fairfax Bar Criminal Law Practice Section and was recognized with an FBA President's Award. In 2012 he was named a "Leader in the Law" by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. In 2005, Bernhard created the VADefenses Listserv to help advance ethics, mentoring, networking and competence in the field of criminal defense.

Born in El Salvador, Bernhard is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He is the first immigrant from Latin America to be elected to the Circuit Court bench in Virginia. He speaks Spanish and German fluently, English having been the third language he learned as a youth.

Bernhard received a bachelor's degree from Brandeis University and his law degree from Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Mo.

For more information or reasonable ADA accommodations, contact Kim Callahan, Fairfax Circuit Court, at 703-246-4166, TTY 711.

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