January 25, 2024

Howard E. Gwynn to Receive the 2024 Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award

Portrait of Howard Gwynn.Howard E. Gwynn, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Newport News, has been named the recipient of the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award by the Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section. The award will be presented to his daughters at the 54th Annual Criminal Law Seminar in Williamsburg on February 9. The Carrico Award recognizes an individual "who has made a singular and unique contribution to the improvement of the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

The elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Newport News for 43 years, Gwynn was born and raised in the city during segregation, graduating as the valedictorian of Carver High School before attending Dartmouth College and receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan. Gwynn returned to his hometown in the 1980s, where he has served in the justice system ever since.

Senator Thomas K. Norment Jr. of the Virginia General Assembly said of Gwynn in his support letter, “Howard has done more to lead his office of 70 attorneys and staff by promoting professionalism, expecting excellence of performance and mentoring young lawyers than any Commonwealth's Attorney I have met over the years.”

In her nomination, Newport News Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Melissa Iotti Freudenberg said of Gwynn, “Howard always emphasized the importance of doing what was right and that justice took many forms and not all of those forms included convictions. ... Justice is always his goal.”

Almost 50 attorneys, paralegals, victim advocates, staff members, and investigators of the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Office signed Gwynn’s nomination, which was also seconded by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel C. Yates.

Brian J. Samuels, criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, said of Gwynn in his letter of support, “He is a man of the deepest integrity and professional judgment, motivated by a strident desire to always do what is right and fair. Howard is a pillar of the criminal justice community in Newport News, widely regarded and respected by law enforcement, state and federal partners, the bench, defense bar and many civic groups.”

The Hon. Tyneka L.D. Flythe of the City of Newport News Circuit Court said of Gwynn, “Years before its time, his program sought to implement unique diversion programs, youth outreach and engagement, and informal face-to-face encounters between prosecutors and members of the community.” 

Judge Flythe also noted, as many others did, that Gwynn served as mentor not only to lawyers, some of whom went on to the Virginia judiciary, but to many other legal professionals in criminal justice.

The Hon. Shannon O. Hoehl of the Hanover Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court noted in her letter that, “I met Howard as a law student in 1997. He graciously allowed me to intern in his office during my last semester of law school.” Judge Hoehl noted that Gwynn taught his interns as much as he learned from them, valuing their opinions as individuals and future lawyers.

Judge Hoehl concluded, “Howard Gwynn's policies and values have been implemented in police officers, Commonwealth's Attorneys, defense attorneys, and courtrooms across the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. Without a doubt his integrity, humility and conscientiousness have left an indelible mark on the criminal justice system.”