Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis W. Dohnal died May 10 at his home in Richmond. He was 69.
A graduate of Bucknell University, Judge Dohnal earned his law degree from George Washington University. He began his career as an assistant U.S. Attorney. He then went into private practice with the firm of Bremner, Baber and Janus, and later, with Brenner, Dohnal, Evans and Yoffy.
In 2000, he was tapped to serve as a U.S. Magistrate Judge, a position he held for 12 years. In 2012, he joined The McCammon Group as a mediator.
During his career, Judge Dohnal served as president of the Richmond Bar Association, the Richmond Criminal Bar Association and The John Marshall American Inn of Court.
His work on behalf of the bar was tireless. He chaired a Virginia State Bar group that spent several years in the late 1990s working through changes to the ethics code that became the Rules of Professional Conduct in 2000. He spearheaded an effort to raise court-appointed pay in Virginia.
He received numerous honors over the years, including the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award from the VSB and the Hunter W. Martin Professionalism Award from the Richmond Bar.
Judge Dohnal was named one of Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” in 2010. The other members of the Class of ’10 voted him as “Leader of the Year.”
Three years ago, a reception held in Richmond by the Federal Bar Association doubled as his retirement party. U.S. District Judge James Spencer saluted Judge Dohnal for his efforts and his efficiency. The judges in the Eastern District take their reputation as the “rocket docket” seriously and want to keep the #1 ranking as the fastest trial court to move cases from filing to resolution. Spencer thanked Judge Dohnal for his hard work, all done with grace and a sense of good humor, long one of Judge Dohnal’s distinctive traits.
Survivors include his wife, Alecia; two sons, Todd and Mark; and a daughter, Kelly.