Commonwealth’s attorney grateful for opportunity to serve
Mecklenburg County’s new commonwealth’s attorney, The Honorable R. Allen Nash, has settled into the job after an impressive 98.37 percent election win in November.
Even so, Nash said he had originally set his sights on a different career. Nash entered college with a plan to become a journalist and, originally, he studied communications at Virginia Tech.
As many of us learn, however, life seldom works out the way we expect it to.
“I started off interested in journalism,” admitted Nash last week. “Shortly after arriving on campus I realized I had a penchant for winning arguments,”
He added that his mother had told him he should be a lawyer since he was 4 years old.
He began seriously considering going into law, and during his freshman year, he made up his mind.
This did not prevent him from following up on his study of communications. In fact, Nash said he felt it had given him a solid foundation, teaching him how to write and communicate effectively. That, he said, paid off after he graduated from Virginia Tech and entered Appalachian School of Law.
It didn’t take Nash long to realize that he had a passion for prosecution, and if there was any doubt, an internship with Lezlie Green at the Brunswick County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office cleared them up.
As a promising young attorney, you might expect that Nash would have harbored dreams of heading to the city, joining a big practice and building a large and lucrative practice. A speaker at his high school graduation from Brunswick Academy gave him a different point of view.
“They made an impassioned plea for people to come back to Southside,” he said. “I realized I wanted to find whatever best suited me and bring it back home. When I discovered what my knack was, I wanted to bring it back home and help the people the best way I could.”
Chase City attorney Kathy Keel has a part in the story as well.
“Kathy is my cousin, and I told her I was interested in law and coming back to South Hill,” Nash said. “She told me (then-Mecklenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney) Nora Miller was looking for an assistant, and (Miller) granted me an interview. She told me if I passed the bar she’d put me to work. On Oct. 25, 2010, I got the news that I had passed on my first try, and I started on Nov. 1. I loved every minute of it.”
He added that he considered himself lucky to have found a job so soon.
“I was fortunate to end up where I ended up,” he said. “It was the worst job market on record.”
Nash, who grew up in the Blackridge area, is the son of Rene and Bernard Nash. The oldest of four children, he has one brother and two sisters, Ryan, Elizabeth and Devin.
Nash smiled broadly as he talking about his wife, Tracey.
“I’ve been happily married for three years, coming up on four years in July,” he said. “Tracey is a fantastic public school teacher at Park View High.”
Asked if he had a most satisfying case, Nash had no problem selecting one. “It was a home invasion case where the defendant broke into a home in South Hill.” The suspect, said Nash, had moved from room to room and threatened the victim and her child with a handgun.
“I spent a lot of time working on that case night and day,” remembered Nash. “Based on the horrific nature of the crime I asked for a 46-year term, arguing that we can’t tolerate that sort of crime in Mecklenburg County. I think I put a very dangerous criminal away for a long time. I’m proud to be able to do my part to protect everyone in Mecklenburg.”
Asked if he has any aspirations to become a judge or to move into private practice, Nash replied, “Actually I’m thrilled to be where I am, and I would love to be here as long as the community will have me. I’m thrilled with the opportunity they gave me. I’m still humbled by the election. Once again, I thank the people of Mecklenburg for their support, and I assure them that I aim to reward their faith by being prepared and professional to represent the best interests of Mecklenburg County. And, I want to thank Nora Miller for taking a chance on me. She’s been a fantastic mentor to me. And, I want to thank the folks I work with. It’s a great staff, dedicated to helping the people of Mecklenburg County. I consider myself a very, very lucky man.”