Two well-known lawyers compete for prosecutor's job

By Paige Gance

Today local voters will choose between Lexington attorney Joshua O. Elrod and incumbent Robert “Bucky” Joyce in the first contested election for commonwealth’s attorney since 2003.

The commonwealth’s attorney, established as an elective office by the state constitution, handles the prosecution of felony offenses in Rockbridge County and Lexington. Buena Vista’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Russell is not up for election this year.

Joyce, 61, has spent 25 years in the office, starting as assistant commonwealth’s attorney in 1986. Elrod, 39, a son of Lexington Mayor Mimi Elrod and the late president of Washington and Lee University, John Elrod, acknowledged that his campaign has been “an uphill battle as a challenger.”

Elrod has practiced law in Lexington for 10 years as a partner in the law firm Mann, Vita and Elrod. He said almost all of his cases involve criminal defense work, giving him experience in the courtroom. He has never been a prosecutor.

Joyce was born in Lexington and graduated from Lexington High School. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then returned to Lexington to go to W&L’s School of Law.

Elrod also graduated from Lexington High School. Lexington has been his home since his family moved here in 1984. He attended the College of Wooster in Ohio as an undergraduate and received his law degree from the University of Virginia.

Joyce said he does not see the commonwealth’s attorney as a political office. In 2003, he ran as a Republican for the campaign support and says he continues to do so out of loyalty.

Elrod, who is involved in Democratic politics, said he is running as an independent because he also believes “these constitutional offices are not political offices.”

He said he decided to run to improve the administration of the office.  Joyce’s campaign motto is “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”