Jon C. Poulson, long-time Eastern Shore trial attorney and former three-term Accomack Commonwealth’s Attorney, departed this earthly life on November 5, 2023.
According to his death notice posted on the Cooper and Humbles website, Jon attended the public schools of Accomack County, graduating from former Atlantic High School in 1961. He was salutatorian of his graduating class and was voted “best all-around” by his classmates. He was a talented high school athlete and lettered all four years in football, baseball, and track. Through his high school years, he worked on his grandfather’s farm and at the truck scales in Nelsonia. After high school, Jon attended and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1965. He subsequently attended the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, graduating in June 1968. Jon finished eighth in his graduating class and led the class in the fields of Domestic Relations and Virginia Procedure. After graduation, he secured a Clerkship with Chief Justice John W. Eggleston of the Supreme Court of Virginia. After the conclusion of his Clerkship in June 1969, he returned to the Eastern Shore to practice law for the next fifty-one years.
In November 1975, he was elected to the first of his three terms as the Accomack Commonwealth’s Attorney. Jon was an aggressive prosecutor who made himself available to officers on a twenty-four-hour basis for legal advice, and he routinely appeared at the scene of serious crimes. He made it a practice of not “plea bargaining” and necessarily tried many criminal jury trials. During his eleven and a half years in office, those trials involved some of the premier trial attorneys of the era. At the end of his second term, he had tried fifty-one felony criminal jury trials, resulting in forty-five convictions. On one occasion in a period of two weeks, he tried two, two-day jury trials, both resulting in convictions. Jon made it a practice to publicly acknowledge the efforts of the investigating officer or officers in a case; he had a strong respect for members of law enforcement. Upon his retirement from the office in the spring of 1987, the Eastern Shore News wrote:
“For eleven years, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jon Poulson of Accomack has been putting away criminals and building a reputation as a tough prosecutor who seldom plea-bargains, often recommends maximum sentence, and is willing to help officers hunt down suspects.”
After leaving the Commonwealth’s Attorney position, Jon built a successful trial practice. He carried a prestigious “AV” peer rating in the Martindale-Hubbell legal directory, denoting “that the attorney has reached the highest of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity” by his peers in the profession. Over those years, he represented many police officers in personal matters, many public officials, other attorneys, judicial family members, as well as citizens from all walks of life. Retired State Trooper Walter Marks always referred to Jon as the “common folks’ attorney.” That said, he was still a little excited when a retired NFL player or other “celebrity” came to him after receiving a traffic ticket while traveling down Route 13; he enjoyed hearing about the interesting lives of others.
Jon served two three-year terms as the Shore’s representative of the Virginia State Bar Council, the governing body of the State Bar. He served eight years on the Bar’s Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, serving as the Chairman for two years.
Jon was extremely personable and did not view himself as being a “silk stocking” lawyer. He liked nothing better than to pull a joke on a friend. In one well-known incident, the tables were turned. As he was walking out of General District Court one day in a starched shirt and dress pants, Jon discovered that his new belt didn’t work well as he nearly lost his pants. The judge had to excuse the clerk who became nearly hysterical with laughter. “The suspender fund” was quickly created, and the judge actually wrote a “ditty” about the incident, which was recorded by a musical group in Tidewater. Jon simply laughed along with the rest of Accomack County.
A memorial service will be conducted on Friday November 24 from 1-3 p.m. at the Island House in Wachapreague.