Happy 2020! Thank you for electing me president of the Virginia Magistrates Association. I hope to serve the VMA proudly and with dignity. Let’s continue to build the organization’s presence and dedication to magistrates.


As president, the board and I plan to increase the VMA’s visibility and promote the currentprograms that the VMA offers to magistrates. First, we have the Magistrate Spotlight. This program awards a magistrate, who is nominated, with a $100.00 gift card for doing a great job...being a magistrate! The nomination should detail how the magistrate has improved their office, performed his/her duties well, shown the magistrate system dedication and loyalty, etc. Please see the nomination form on the VMA’s website. The VMA also offers MCE scholarship. If a magistrate needs MCE credits, fill out a scholarship application found on the VMA’s website. The board and I will continue to provide opportunities for magistrates to increase their skills, abilities and knowledge in order to excel in their positions.


We plan to continue the collaboration that immediate past president Kara Atkins started last year. The VMA has met with the Magistrate Regional Supervisors and Karl Hade. We hope to have annual meetings with both and with Director Green as well. Collaboration with management is key to the VMA’s and the magistrates’ success. While, the VMA is a separate entity from the Department of Magistrate Services, if we want to fulfill our mission to assist magistrates, we will collaborate with DMS management when the opportunities arise and are right for all.


We as magistrates are members of communities. This year we plan to participate in community service opportunities. This year, there will also be a focus on educating the general public,stakeholders, and others about the magistrate system. Knowledge is power and key to resolving discrepancies and misunderstandings about the magistrate’s role in the criminal justice system. 2019-2020 membership is growing and has exceed the numbers from last year. We hope to continue this momentum. The more members the association has the bigger the impact of the VMA.


Save the date: August 1, 2020 – the Virginia Code Book Index produced by the VMA is scheduled to be released and available for purchase. We know that there has not been a new edition recently, but we want to make sure a current version is available to all.


Lastly, we encourage anyone who is interested to serve on the Executive Board, committees or volunteer. There are many opportunities and we gladly welcome all those who want to participate in “aiding, assisting and representing members concerning issues pertaining to the Virginia Magistrate system”. Last year the Bylaws were amended to allow video conferencing for executive board meetings. This was done to facilitate an easier and cost-effective way for members to participate in VMA. We can only effectively represent the voices that are present. The more participation the VMA has the better we can serve the needs of the magistrates around the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Join us in building up the Magistrate System. Thank you all and I am ready to be of service.


Avnel A. Coates

VMA President