Monday, December 30, 2013

Distinguished Alumni: Magistrate Zachary A. Stoots

Distinguished Alumni 
of the 
Appalachian School of Law: Magistrate Zachary (Zack) A. Stoots

Magistrate Zachary (Zack) A. Stoots, a life-long resident of Southwest Virginia, has served his community in many capacities.  Like many of our graduates, he is the first generation of his family to graduate from college and the only member in his family to attend graduate school.

In December 2011, he joined the Magistrate's Office in Tazewell County, Virginia. Interestingly, he served as a Magistrate immediately after law school in July 2010. After six months in that position, he moved to the Russell County Commonwealth Attorney's Office as an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney.  Zack left the part-time position at the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for full time employment back with the Magistrate's office.

The Magistrate Manual describes the position this way:
The office of magistrate is probably more important today than it has been at any other time since the creation of the magistrate system. The enhanced standards for search and arrest warrants, as well as the changing philosophies about bail, have made the work increasingly more difficult, requiring responsible deliberation on the part of each magistrate. Moreover, the frequent contacts with the general public, make it necessary that every magistrate be fully informed of the mechanics of his or her job so there will be no doubt by others that they are being treated by fair-minded and competent officials.

* * * 
[M]agistrates [must] realize that they are members of the State judiciary and his or her actions are a direct reflection on the quality of justice in Virginia, especially to tourists and non-residents who may never pass through Virginia again. Accordingly, magistrates are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner consistent with the responsibility and honor of the office. A professional appearance, a suitable place for conducting business, and a business-like, but courteous manner, are essential. Further, as judicial officers, magistrates occupy a position of public trust. Therefore, he or she is expected to meet an ethical standard considerably higher than that imposed on the average person.
His duties as a Magistrate also take him to Washington and Russell Counties. His duties also include training new hires in the Magistrate's Office.

For a few months in 2013, during his supervisor's maternity leave, he served as the Acting Chief Magistrate for the Central Magistrate District of Region 1.

Recently, Stoots and three co-workers from the Central Magisterial District won the state-wide competition, known as the "Magistrates Bowl." The competition tests knowledge of applicable law and of the magistrate system. Stoots is pictured with his colleagues after their win.

As the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, from January 2011 to November 2011, Stoots prosecuted felony and misdemeanor cases, assisted in obtaining assets through the civil forfeiture process; researched evidentiary issues and successfully debated those issues; and interviewed witnesses in preparation for trial. 

Law School Career

Stoots graduated form the Appalachian School of Law in 2010. While on campus, he served as a Student Bar Association Senator, a Student Ambassador, on the Fiscal Budget Committee, as Treasurer of the American Association for Justice, and as Vice President of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society.

He currently serves as President of the ASL Alumni Association.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Bluefield College in 2007, with a major in Criminal Justice.

Magistrate Stoots made Dean's List during law school and college.

Family Life

Stoots married his college sweetheart, Sarah Moore in September 2011, exactly seven years to the day after they first met. They welcomed a son on August 2, 2013. They currently live in Lebanon, Virginia.

During his spare time, he follows professional wrestling, which he describes as a "male soap opera." He fell in love with it as a four-year old. He also plays Xbox Live with his nephew and enjoys hiking with his wife in Russell County near Big Cedar Falls.

Community Service

Magistrate Stoots has served as an Adult Leader, 4-H Cloverbud Camp, supervising crafts, activities, and games for elementary school students. During the summer of 2007, he served as a Community Event Organizer for the Relay for Life fundraiser and celebration.

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