Ramin Fatehi, a Hampton Roads native, has served as a prosecutor since 2006, the last eight years right here in the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, where he has worked every day to serve justice by treating defendants fairly, victims with dignity, and the community with the commitment to its values.
Prior to his service in Norfolk, Ramin was an Assistant Public Defender in Richmond, an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Chesapeake, and a Special Assistant United States Attorney in Charlottesville. Ramin has tried 45 jury trials for cases including murder, home invasion, rape, armed robbery, burglary, drug distribution, and embezzlement. Ramin has lost count of the hundreds of bench trials he has tried.
Ramin currently supervises a team of lawyers and staff responsible for prosecuting drug offenses, intoxicated driving, and fatal auto crashes. Ramin strives to ensure that every accused person is treated as a person on his or her own merits, that every grieving victim feels as if the system is doing what it can to make them whole, and that the community feels as if there is a single kind of justice for all accused persons independent of their race, their parents, their wealth, or their ZIP code.
Ramin is also the Chair of the Office’s Criminal Justice Reform Working Group, which advises the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Greg Underwood, on criminal-justice reform initiatives. Under Greg’s leadership, Ramin was the architect of the Office’s policy ending demands for cash bail and the policy for dismissing cases of simple possession of marijuana. When Norfolk’s judges blocked that important criminal justice reform, Ramin sued the judges in the Virginia Supreme Court on behalf of the Office. Ramin has been an outspoken representative for the office in Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice. Ramin has translated talk of criminal justice reform into action.
“I am proud of our Office’s efforts to make the criminal justice system more fair for all people,” says Ramin. “Criminal justice reform is the key to making our communities safer. Criminal justice reform shows our community that the system is doing its best to be fair, and so criminal justice reform builds community trust. When we build that trust, the community joins hands with us and with law enforcement to prosecute serious, violent criminals.”
Ramin was born in Suffolk, Virginia, and moved to Tehran, Iran, as a baby. In Iran, Ramin’s father, a neurosurgeon, and his American-born mother, a nurse, raised Ramin to be proud of his American heritage and to stand up for his mother and her country. Ramin’s family moved to Hampton Roads when Ramin was seven, and he showed the same pride in his father’s Iranian heritage that he had for his mother’s American heritage. If elected, Ramin will be only the second Iranian-American chief prosecutor in the nation.
“I have lived a privileged life,” Ramin recalls, “But having to take up for my American mom in Iran and for my Iranian dad in the States – having been an insider and an outsider at the same time in one country and then the other – taught me that we should never let our prejudices about people’s skin color, parents, or background blind us to who they are as individuals.”
Ramin graduated from Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, where he was a varsity wrestler; earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Yale University; and earned his law degree at Columbia Law School. After law school, Ramin had the honor of serving as a law clerk to the Hon. Elizabeth B. Lacy, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, and then worked in corporate law in Washington before choosing to become a Public Defender in Richmond.
“Serving as a public defender was one of the most important and morally fulfilling things I have ever done,” Ramin explains, “I learned up close about how external forces – structural racism, poverty, mental-health problems, and substance abuse – combine with personal choices to bring accused persons into the justice system. I also learned about the enormous power that police and prosecutors have to hold accountable people convicted of crimes and, if they so choose, to show mercy to those people who deserve it. It was that power, and some unjust things that I saw prosecutors do, that called me to being a prosecutor. I wanted to be able to wield that power for the good of everyone.”
Ramin lives in Colonial Place with his wife Mary Beth, a Senior Lecturer at Old Dominion University, and his sons Thomas (4) and James (3). “I love living in Norfolk, where I have lived for most of the past fourteen years and where I attended school for ten years before then,” says Ramin, “Norfolk is my home, and I am blessed to be able to serve here. With your help, I hope to continue to serve Norfolk as your next Commonwealth’s Attorney.”
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