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Successful Defense of Multi-Million Dollar Defamation Suit Against Newspaper

The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.

Gentry Locke for the Defense Giles County Circuit Court Gentry Locke successfully defended a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit filed by a former Narrows High School principal against The Virginian-Leader, the local Giles County newspaper. The mayor of the Town of Narrows wrote a letter to the editor, in his private capacity, which was published by the The Virginian-Leader. In fall 2015, the former principal filed a 23 count lawsuit claiming, among other charges, defamation. Gentry Locke represented The Virginian-Leader; the mayor was represented by separate counsel. The Court found that the statements at issue were not defamatory, which was fatal […]

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Supreme Court of Virginia Chief Justice Lemons Receives 2016 William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (June 20, 2016) – The Honorable Donald W. Lemons, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, received the Virginia State Bar’s 2016 William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award in recognition of his longstanding and dedicated efforts in the field of legal education in Virginia and nationally. The award, which was established by the Virginia State Bar’s Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia in 2012, is named for its inaugural recipient, Gentry Locke Partner William R. (Bill) Rakes. The award was presented at a ceremony and reception at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach on June 17, […]

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Gentry Locke Attorneys Serve on Board of the Roanoke Bar Association

ROANOKE, VA (July 1, 2016) – Gentry Locke is pleased to congratulate two partners, Kevin Walker Holt and Christen C. Church, for their service on the Board of the Roanoke Bar Association. Kevin, who chairs our Business Litigation group, is President-Elect of the Roanoke Bar Association for 2016-2017. Kevin will be inducted as President of the RBA in July of 2017. Christen, who handles health care and intellectual property issues with our Commercial group, has been appointed to chair the RBA Young Lawyers Committee.

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – Article Series for C-level Executives

Gentry Locke’s Employment Law Team is publishing a series of articles dealing with the ramifications of the recent adoption of the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and a White House report attacking non-compete agreements. “Protecting Critical Company Assets” will red-flag key issues that owners of intellectual property and trade secrets need to know about in order to ensure their company’s interests are protected. As articles are posted, links will be added here. Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part I: DTSA Basics for Employers (David Paxton), published June 16, 2016 Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part 2: DTSA and Employment […]

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Gentry Locke Welcomes Attorney Kirk M. Sosebee to our Roanoke Office

ROANOKE, VA (June 27, 2016) – Attorney Kirk M. Sosebee has joined the Virginia law firm of Gentry Locke, where he will be working in the Construction Litigation section of the Commercial Litigation group. Additionally, Kirk will assist individuals with False Claims Act and Qui Tam/Whistleblower actions. Prior to joining Gentry Locke, Kirk was an associate at a large firm in Washington, DC, where he represented clients in a wide range of commercial litigation and arbitration matters, including an ICC arbitration, cases involving the False Claims Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Servicemembers Civil […]

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part 4: The “Inevitable Disclosure” Doctrine

Consider the following hypothetical: Ivan is an important employee of the ABC Company in Virginia. Ivan has been employed by ABC for 4 years and has learned a great deal of proprietary information. He is not subject to a non-compete agreement, but has signed an agreement not to disclose confidential information. With no prior notice, Ivan has unexpectedly tendered his immediate resignation. You have heard from a reliable source that Ivan has accepted employment with XYZ Company in Virginia, an aggressive and fairly new competitor. ABC’s President is livid. She believes that Ivan will “inevitably” use or disclose ABC’s trade […]

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part 3: The DTSA’s Ex Parte Seizure Procedure

Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), signed into law by President Obama on May 11, 2016, private employers now have a powerful and unprecedented tool to help them in the fight against trade secret misappropriation. As previously mentioned in Part I of this series, the DTSA provides a unique remedy which was never an option under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.[1] This remedy is an ex parte seizure provision which allows for “the seizure of property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination” of trade secrets. Ex parte means that an employer may petition a court to seize the […]

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Tragic Failure to Properly Diagnose and Treat Results in Jury Verdict for $2.75 Million

The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.

Gentry Locke for the Plaintiff Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division On June 7, 2013, Shawn McKee presented to a hospital emergency department in Lebanon, Virginia. He was treated by Dwight L. Bailey who was, at the time, a licensed physician. Despite numerous signs and symptoms consistent with a potentially fatal condition known as a pulmonary embolus (“PE”), Mr. McKee did not undergo the required test to diagnose a PE, a CT scan. Dr. Bailey testified that the CT scanner at the hospital could not accommodate Mr. McKee’s size, which is why one was not done as he had ordered. […]

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Read the Order Before You Sign It

The recent case of Lopez-Rosario v. Habib, 785 S.E.2d 214 (2016), demonstrates the sometimes devastating consequences of an Order that does not fully reflect what transpired at a hearing. In 2010, the parents of Ms. Lopez-Rosario, an adult, petitioned the Loudoun County Circuit Court to be appointed guardians of their child. The reason for the petition was that “Ms. Lopez-Rosario ‘[was] an incapacitated individual’” and needed someone to make medical decisions for her. While the facts of the underlying guardianship proceeding made clear that the purpose of having the parents appointed as guardians “was to enable Lopez-Rosario’s parents to make […]

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Gentry Locke Partner Justin M. Lugar Receives Chappell-Morris Award from American College of Trial Lawyers

ROANOKE, VA (June 20, 2016) – The Virginia law firm of Gentry Locke is pleased to announce that Justin M. Lugar, a partner in our Criminal & Government Investigations group, has been awarded the 2016 Chappell-Morris Award by the Virginia Chapter of American College of Trial Lawyers. Recipients are selected based upon their demonstrated professionalism, high ethical and moral standards, excellent character, and outstanding trial skills. The Chappell-Morris Award was first announced in 2012 and is awarded every other year. Recipients of the Award are selected after a confidential vetting process that includes a case history review and interviews with […]

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part 2: DTSA and Employment Agreements

One important new feature of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) is the duty imposed on employers to notify “employees” of the whistleblower and anti-retaliation protection provisions of the DTSA. In 18 U.S.C. § 1833(b)(3)(A), any agreement entered into or updated after May 11, 2016 with an “employee” that includes a provision that governs the use of confidential information must include a provision that explains the new criminal and civil liability immunity provisions provided to whistleblowers and the provision that expressly allows employees to use trade secret information in anti-retaliation lawsuits. This provision makes it clear that “any” […]

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – Part I: DTSA Basics for Employers

On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) which amends the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA) (18 U.S.C. § 1831, et. seq.). The EEA has allowed federal prosecutors to bring criminal charges for the theft of trade secrets, but until the DTSA, there was no federal civil claim for damages or equitable relief. The DTSA addresses this problem and grants private companies (and other trade secret owners) the right to bring a civil suit to protect their trade secrets and recover damages, so long as the trade secret relates to a product […]

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Summer Reading: Some New Employment Law Developments to Know

Happy (almost) summer. Before you head to the beach for a well-deserved vacation, we post this short article to update you on several substantive developments in the employment law world. New Overtime Regulations Effective December 1. As you know, the DOL has published its new overtime regulations that will take effect December 1,2016.  The key provision is that an employee needs to earn at least $47,476 per year to be exempt from the federal overtime requirements.  Gentry Locke recently hosted a webinar on the new regulations.  Please contact us if we can assist your organization in any way. EEOC Publication on […]

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Protecting Critical Company Assets – New Federal Initiatives

In 1986, Virginia adopted a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (VUTSA),[1] and employers have relied upon the VUTSA for years to protect some of their most important and sensitive intellectual property and know-how. As business operations have expanded outside of Virginia and the United States, differences in how trade secret laws have been applied have often resulted in an ineffective patchwork of protections.[2] As a result, many employers have continued to rely on written employment agreements that not only protect confidential information and trade secrets, but also limit the solicitation of customers and co-workers, and in some cases, […]

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No Notice Required: Virginia’s At-Will Rule

For at least 110 years, Virginia has followed the at-will doctrine that employees working under an agreement that does not specify its duration or require cause for termination may be separated from employment simply by being given “reasonable notice.”[1]  An open question in recent years has been “what constitutes reasonable notice under this at-will rule?” On June 2, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided this issue. The case involved a claim by a long-term employee (17-year tenure) who was abruptly terminated without any advance notice. The former employee argued that she should have been given some reasonable period of advance notice before the […]

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New DOL Overtime Rules Double FLSA Exemption Threshold

Finally, the much anticipated changes to DOL overtime regulations have been issued. Most significantly, the new overtime regulations will double the salary threshold effective December 1 and will be increased incrementally every three years. Here is the down and dirty on the new rules: Mercifully, the new regulations are not effective until December 1, which is at least longer than the 60-day period the DOL previously indicated.  The salary threshold is doubled to $47,476 per year or $913 per week. Currently, workers earning more than $23,660 per year are not eligible for overtime, if they also meet the various duties […]

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Tip Pooling – Are the Rules Changing?

Paul Klockenbrink contributes to the “Virginia Hospitality Law Blog” and is a frequent lecturer on employment law issues. A recent decision by a federal appeals court has sent minor, if not significant, shockwaves into the restaurant and hospitality industries that use tip pooling as part of their employees’ income. Under Section 203(m) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), restaurants and other hospitality industry employers are permitted to utilize a limited amount of employees’ tips as a credit against their minimum wage obligations by using tips as “wages.” This practice is known as taking a “tip credit.” An employer can pay […]

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Rights of Deck and Balcony Collapse Victims in Virginia

For many apartment dwellers, a deck or balcony is their version of a backyard — a place they can privately savor a sunny day or cool evening. Occupants and visitors alike should be able to enjoy a deck or balcony with confidence in its stability. Over the last twenty years, however, there has been a massive race to build structures which included decks and balconies. Unfortunately, many of those decks and balconies were not built to appropriate building codes or were negligently constructed using inferior products or inadequate nails/fasteners. In some cases, owners and managers of properties have failed to […]

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Social Media and Human Resource Issues

Gentry Locke Partner Lindsey A. Coley and attorney Catherine J. Huff presented a workshop on Social Media and Human Resource Issues for businesses and members of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce. Lindsey discussed how companies are turning to social media for branding, client development and service, research, recruiting, and to improve employee engagement. However, the use of social media presents real challenges for employers. Discussed during the event was (i) whether and how to monitor and regulate employees’ social media use; (ii) the use of information obtained through social media in hiring, promotion, discipline and other decisions; (iii) Developing strategies for […]

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If You’re Buying a Business or Real Estate, Take Advantage of Due Diligence

What is due diligence? As an essential element of commercial transactions, due diligence is the process of investigating the target company or real estate prior to completion of the acquisition. For all forms of a business acquisition (or merger), the due diligence process will equip the buyer with additional knowledge, including but not limited to management, operation, financial perspective, structure, existing liabilities and contractual relationships, tax compliance, customer base, employees, and litigation or claims against the business. For real estate transactions, due diligence may include a review of the property’s title history, consideration of current and former uses and impacts […]

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Twenty-six Gentry Locke Attorneys Named “2016 Virginia Super Lawyers”

Twenty-six Gentry Locke attorneys have earned recognition as 2016 Virginia Super Lawyers and Virginia Super Lawyers Rising Stars. April 7, 2016 (Roanoke, Virginia): Gentry Locke is pleased to announce that seventeen attorneys were awarded status as Virginia Super Lawyers, and nine attorneys were recognized as Virginia Super Lawyers Rising Stars. Attorneys named to the 2016 Virginia Super Lawyers list are: J. Rudy Austin:  Civil Litigation (Defense) Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr.:  Criminal Defense/White Collar Matthew W. Broughton:  Personal Injury (Plaintiff) W. William Gust:  Tax Gregory J. Haley:  Business Litigation Guy M. Harbert, III: Personal Injury (Defense) Paul G. Klockenbrink:  Employer Litigation (Defense) Todd […]

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Getting the Name Right on the Contract Really Matters

It sounds like the most simple and innocuous thing. Who could mess up the parties’ names on a contract? And, what’s the big deal if the name is not exactly right? Under Virginia law, it is a bigger issue than you might think. In particular, it is an issue that can rear its head when one or more of the parties is a corporation or limited liability company. Getting the name correct – that is, using the officially-registered corporate name – is necessary, and failure to do so can impact legal rights. For example, in Berglund Chevrolet, Inc. v. Thor […]

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2016 Labor & Employment Law Symposium – March 24

 Human Resources can be an Olympic Endeavor! Whether refereeing an important call regarding an employee or a policy, or jumping the hurdles placed by government agencies, in 2016 Human Resources is quickly evolving into a “contact sport” — one that requires preparation and training. That’s why our Employment Law Team has identified the issues that are most likely to challenge you in 2016, for which they will discuss practical solutions. Join us for a full day in Roanoke on March 24 Roanoke: Washington Lecture Hall in the conference center at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, 110 Shenandoah Ave NW, Roanoke, VA 24016 >> Read […]

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Want to Build a Dam? Stop, Look, Ask, and Listen

What was once a simple decision to dam up a creek or stream and create a pond or small lake for agricultural or recreational purposes is no longer a simple decision. Rather, it is one that could be very expensive, complicated, and very disappointing. The construction of dams is now a highly regulated activity in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Over the last several years, landowners have had to face the proposition of reversing impoundment activities and draining existing lakes and ponds because of a failure to properly comply with the applicable dam rules and regulations. When permitting requirements exist, it […]

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Brownfields Initiatives: Challenges and Successes

Gentry Locke attorney Charlie Williams will co-present a session on brownfields initiatives at the INTERSECTION OF EMS, EHS, SECURITY, RESILIENCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT conference presented by Aegis Environmental Inc., Gregori Consulting LLC, and Robert G. Burnley LLC. “Brownfields initiatives – Challenges and Successes” will be presented by Williams and David Sayre as part of the Economic Development/Expansion Preplanning section offered during the conference.

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Second State ESOP Transactions

Gentry Locke attorney Bill Gust will participate in an exploration of issues that arise in subsequent ESOP transactions related to share price, bank covenants and financial ratios. Discussion will include considerations by Plan Trustees as they make the purchase, including the decision of whether to use the same financial advisor or hiring a new appraiser to serve for the transaction.

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Jury Affirms Insurance Company Decision on Roof Repair Claim

The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.

Gentry Locke for the Defense Roanoke County Circuit Court The plaintiffs sued their insurance company, claiming the insurance company wrongly denied coverage for replacement of an 8,800 square foot roof. They claimed their roof was irreparably damaged by a hailstorm. The insurer excluded the claim on the basis that the roof had eroded and was totally deteriorated prior to the hailstorm occurring, and therefore no hail damage was compensable. After a two-day trial, the jury came back with a verdict in favor of our insurance client.

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Gentry Locke Welcomes Associate Jennifer DeGraw

ROANOKE, VA (January 23, 2016) – Gentry Locke is pleased to welcome Jennifer S. DeGraw to our Roanoke, Virginia headquarters. Jennifer will join the firm’s Criminal & Government Investigations group, focusing on defending white-collar criminal matters in federal court. According to Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr., who leads Gentry Locke’s Criminal & Government Investigations group, “We are extremely fortunate to have convinced Jenny to join Gentry Locke. She is an extraordinarily talented lawyer who will be of great benefit to our clients.” Prior to joining Gentry Locke, Jennifer was a state prosecutor in North Carolina and a federal prosecutor in Virginia. […]

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Gentry Locke Welcomes Associate Court Shipman to Lynchburg Office

LYNCHBURG, VA (January 27, 2016) – Gentry Locke is pleased to welcome J. Court Shipman to our Lynchburg office. Court will focus on assisting clients with their business and corporate needs. Prior to joining Gentry Locke, Court served as associate counsel to Liberty University, advising the university’s general counsel and various leaders on legal issues such as contract disputes, trademarks, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state and local government compliance. Prior to his work at the university, Court served as a staff auditor for a major rail corporation, and held an internship […]

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Advice to CIOs on Cyber Security Legal Issues

On January 27, 2016, Gentry Locke partner Todd Leeson presented a talk on Cybersecurity as part of a CIO Forum hosted by Cox Business.  The event was held at the Hotel Roanoke and attended by CIOs and executives of businesses in the Roanoke Valley.  Heather Engel, an Executive Vice President with Sera-Brynn, also served as a panelist at the Forum.    

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Don’t Get Snowed in by New DOL Pay Transparency Regulations

Like the roads in our region affected by 2016’s Winter Storm Jonas, the avenue of compliance for federal contractors has just become a little more treacherous. The Department of Labor’s Final Rule affecting federal government contractors’ policies on pay transparency went into effect on January 11, 2016. [1] The Rule, which implements Executive Order 13665, which was signed by President Barack Obama back in April 2014, is the DOL’s effort to promote pay transparency by barring policies of certain federal contractors which previously prevented workers from discussing their wages. Now, covered federal contractors are prohibited from firing or otherwise disciplining employees […]

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Replacement Cost Coverage is Not Your Friend

Some Advice for Business Owners with Commercial Insurance Policies Every business that owns or operates out of a brick and mortar location needs a commercial insurance policy for that building. This we can all agree on. But what happens when the insurance policy will pay out only after the policy holder replaces the destroyed property? What happens if the insurance company (surprise, surprise) decides it may not pay at all, based on policy exclusions? As a business owner, you can be left high and dry if you don’t have the capital to pay for the replacement up front. It is […]

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Gentry Locke Sr. Counsel Cynthia Kinser Inducted as Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation

The Virginia Law Foundation inducted Gentry Locke Senior Counsel Cynthia D. Kinser into its 2016 Class of Fellows on January 21, 2016. Induction as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation is a special honor conferred by the VLF Board on select Virginia attorneys, law professors, and retired members of the judiciary who are deemed to be outstanding in their profession and in their community. As Virginia’s first woman chief justice, Kinser spent 17 years on the Supreme Court of Virginia, with more than three of those years as Chief Justice. She joined Gentry Locke in May of 2015. Prior to her service […]

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Fourteen Gentry Locke Attorneys Named to “Best Lawyers in America Business Edition/Winter 2016” by Best Lawyers

ROANOKE, VA (January 12, 2016) – Gentry Locke is pleased to announce that nine business attorneys and five plaintiff attorneys were listed in the “Best Lawyers in America – Business Edition Winter 2016” magazine published by Best Lawyers. “Best Lawyers in America” honors reflects exceptionally high marks – for talent, accomplishments and integrity – and is the product of a rigorous peer-review evaluation process conducted by Best Lawyers throughout the year. Gentry Locke attorneys who have merited “Best Lawyer in America” Business Edition 2016 honors are: J. Rudy Austin: Plaintiff’s Defense Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr.: Corporate Compliance Law, Criminal Defense: White-Collar Matthew […]

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Insubordination Horror Story (a/k/a NLRB PCA Initiative)

How would you have handled the following personnel matter? A supervisor and HR director met with an employee to provide him with a first-level attendance counseling. The employee became quite angry and refused to sign the counseling document. He then told the supervisor that he was incompetent (and repeated this comment over and over). He stated (and restated) that management was a “bunch of liars” and complained about low pay for him and others. When management tried to discuss his concerns with him, he told them that he did not trust them and he continued his disparaging comments. The HR […]

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Gentry Locke Welcomes Associate Andrew Gay to Roanoke Office

ROANOKE, VA (January 4, 2016) – Gentry Locke is pleased to announce the addition of associate attorney Andrew O. Gay to our Roanoke headquarters. Andrew will work in the firm’s Commercial Litigation practice group, where he will primarily focus on assisting clients with construction contracts and construction litigation. Prior to joining Gentry Locke, Andrew served as Associate General Counsel for a multi-million dollar construction company, where he was tasked with protecting the interests of the company and its affiliates through handling contracts, employment and labor litigation, and dispute resolution. Andrew’s passion for the construction industry makes him a great fit […]

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Gentry Locke Attorney John Reed Thomas Promoted to Partner

ROANOKE, VA (January 1, 2016) – Gentry Locke is very pleased to announce the promotion of attorney John Reed Thomas, Jr. to the position of Partner. John joined Gentry Locke in 2012 after serving as Defense Counsel for the U.S. Marine Corps, where he litigated more than 200 courts-martial and administrative separation proceedings. As a judge advocate, he litigated a variety of cases both as a defense counsel and prosecutor. As the Battalion Judge Advocate for 3d Battalion, 9th Marines during their deployment to Marjah, Afghanistan, John advised the commander on rules of engagement, operational law, fiscal law, and military […]

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