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Office Abuzz Over Likely Lawyer Shuffle

s already shaking things up and taking names.

Herring did not return Style's call for comment by press time.

Commonwealth's Attorney David Hicks — who says he'll start his own law firm when he leaves office — expects at least four of his deputies will depart when the new administration steps in.

While campaigning, Herring openly criticized the commonwealth's attorney's office for, among other things, failing to retain high-quality prosecutors. Now, according to workers in the office who asked to remain unnamed, many of the 36 attorneys along with most of the six deputies are expected to leave. Among the deputies rumored to be on the outs are Whitney Tymas, Diane Abato, Anthony Spencer and Herring's former challenger, Michelle Welch.

When Hicks beat incumbent Joe Morrissey in the race for commonwealth's attorney in November 1993, he took office the following January stressing the need for a high turnover there. It was a tumultuous time. Richmond was the third deadliest city in the United States. Morrissey's personal and professional travails had sparked controversy and obscured many of the office's efforts.

But today, even those — such as City Council President Manoli Loupassi — who blast the commonwealth's attorney's office for its shortcomings say Richmond's come a long way in 12 years. Whither a turnover now?

According to Hicks, Herring asked for the office's financial and operational information in June, shortly after the primary.

Hicks says while in office he won't hire any more staff and that he could take some senior staff with him. Of Herring's moves, he says, "He'll have plenty of vacancies. If he wants to get rid of them it's because he wants to," not because there isn't a place for them.

Hicks says his deputies have so far been hush-hush about their futures. — Brandon Walters

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