Ed Nuttall is running against Fairfax County CA Steve Descano in Democratic primary

March 16, 2023

7 News

By Nick Minock

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (7News) — Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano’s Democratic opponent says Descano has failed the people of Fairfax County repeatedly.

“There is a crisis in the courthouse today,” Ed Nuttall told 7News).

Nuttall is a trial lawyer and has handled cases in Fairfax County for 26 years.

He’s now running for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney against Steve Descano in the June Democratic primary.

“Crime is up, prosecution is down, victims feel abandoned,” said Nuttall. “Our communities feel like they aren’t getting the results that they want to keep our communities safe. Violent offenders are being released back out to the community because of this office’s lack of leadership and management. And I have a solution.”

Nuttall laid out six reforms he said he’ll make to fix the Fairfax County CA’s Office, including investments in victim services and community outreach, modifying discovery protocols, implementing a mental health docket in Circuit Court and Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, expanding drug courts in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and getting rid of social media positions in the office.

Descano’s staff frequently posts videos of Descano on social media.

“We don’t need social media positions,” said Nuttall. “We don’t need political positions or chief of staff positions in that office. We need to train prosecutors to run that office effectively to give the community what they deserve which is safety. “

Nuttall would replace the positions with a senior lawyer or retired judge to train young prosecutors.

“We see many cases being dismissed or pled out as the [Troy] Reynolds case was today because of prosecutorial errors in discovery protocols,” said Nuttall.

On Thursday, Descano’s office made a plea deal with Reynolds who was accused of driving a school bus drunk with 44 elementary school students on board. The plea deal drops all felony charges and victims’ families were not notified of the plea deal – a common complaint.

“Can you imagine having such an awful thing happen to your kindergartener on a field trip and not knowing this is a result of that case?” asked Nuttall.

“It’s a tragic outcome of the case, which happens often, unfortunately, all too often in the courthouse today due to mismanagement and lack of leadership by the chief prosecutor [Descano],” said Nuttall. “The prosecutor’s office has vast resources to conduct discovery. The county opened their wallets up three years ago, so he could hire additional paralegals and additional prosecutors to conduct discovery to improve discovery protocols so that that office could honor defendants’ constitutional rights. If you don’t train the paralegals and prosecutors how to conduct appropriate discovery, all the resources in the world are meaningless.”

Nuttall points to Descano’s inexperience in the courtroom.

In a 7News interview, Descano acknowledged he hasn’t personally prosecuted one case as the Commonwealth’s Attorney since he was elected in 2019.

“Have you ever personally prosecuted a case as the Commonwealth Attorney in Fairfax County?” 7News Reporter Nick Minock asked Descano.

“Nick, I would tell you that if I personally went up to court and prosecuted a case I would be doing my community a disservice,” Descano replied.

“I will lead from the front,” said Nuttall. “I will try cases on every level in that courthouse. I will try cases in Juvenile Court, General District Court, and Circuit Court.”

In an interview last month with 7News, Descano said he is running for reelection.

“I am very excited about it,” said Descano. “I know the community is behind what we’ve done.”

Nuttall also highlighted the 100 percent turnover rate on Descano’s legal team since he took office.

“The only individuals who remain on the legal staff as attorneys are the chief prosecutor and his deputy,” said Nuttall. “Everyone else has left. I believe over 50 Prosecutors have left that office in the last three years. That’s an astonishing turnover rate for any office. They didn’t leave because the economy was bad. They didn’t leave for better jobs. They left because they were mismanaged. They were overwhelmed, understaffed and under trained, and not respected, and that lack of leadership led them to other areas of the law. What’s left is a poor group of prosecutors, earnest line prosecutors who want to do the right thing, but are mismanaged and undertrained and can’t do what they were hired to do.”

Nuttall has lived in Fairfax County for the past 30 years.

“My wife and three children were born and raised in Fairfax County,” said Nuttall. “I’ve tried cases in Fairfax County for 26 years. That courthouse behind us is my second home. I talked to my wife and with her approval and my business partner’s support, I am running for Commonwealth’s attorney to make the changes that we need to return to a safe Fairfax.”

7News reached out to Descano for an interview on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Descano declined an interview with 7News on Thursday as he did Wednesday when 7News reported how a victim and her family feel they are being retaliated against by Descano.