Anne Williams sworn in as Clark County Commonwealth’s attorney

Suzanne Suni Mackall (left), who officially retired as Clarke County's Commonwealth's Attorney on April 1, presents the Commonwealth's Attorney shield to Anne Williams after Williams' swearing-in ceremony Monday.

BERRYVILLE — Upon being officially sworn in as the Clarke County commonwealth’s attorney on Monday, Anne McCardell Williams, 35, likened the moment to the first jewel of the Triple Crown. The former Blue Ridge Hunt Pony Club member said, “If the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, this is the most exciting two minutes in my career.”

Until Monday, Williams served as the county’s deputy commonwealth’s attorney alongside longtime Commonwealth’s Attorney Suzanne “Suni” Mackall, who retired on April 1 after 19 years in the post. She is going into private practice in Winchester.

Judge Alex Iden presided over the brief swearing-in ceremony in the Clarke County Circuit Courthouse in front of a small gathering of Williams’ coworkers, friends and family, including her mother, her father, her husband Matthew Peterson, who is executive director of Habitat for Humanity for Winchester-Frederick-Clarke, and their children, Thomas, 3, and Clara, 1.

“Anne has always been courageous in everything she’s done,” said her mother, Debora Williams. “She’s going to do a wonderful job.”

Williams’s father, Ian R.D. Williams, who is a Frederick County and Winchester lawyer and judge, was proudly sharing another milestone with his daughter.

“I’ve been lucky to share significant moments with Anne,” her father said. “We were [law] partners at Harrison and Johnston in Winchester. When I was a substitute judge, I administered the oath for her to become a lawyer in Frederick County, and she made the motion for me to become a judge in Frederick and Winchester.

“Today,” he continued, “I salute her as she becomes commonwealth’s attorney.”

Anne Williams fondly recalled another family connection. The Virginia Supreme Court requires new attorneys to be accompanied by attorneys who are members of the bar to make motions on their behalf. Anne Williams was accompanied by her maternal grandfather and judge, Boyce C. Wornom.

“This is a big day,” Williams said, broadly smiling. “I grew up in Clarke County, and now I’m commonwealth’s attorney in a place I truly love. It’s an incredible experience.”

Williams continued, “I’ve worked with the people here for five years, and you won’t find harder working people anywhere.”

“Anne is very quiet about her accomplishments, but she’s awesome,” her husband said. Peterson added, “She’s had great mentors — her grandfather, her father, Winchester attorney William Bassler and Suni Mackall. She’ll do a great job.”

Williams grew up in Clarke County after her parents moved to White Post from Westmoreland County in 1989.

She joined the Pony Club and later worked as barn manager and instructor at Clay Hill Barn in Millwood. Her childhood riding instructor, Iona Pillion, attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Williams earned her undergraduate degree in international studies with a history minor from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

She studied law at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, spending one semester at Virginia’s Washington & Lee University School of Law after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. She also studied in Vienna, Austria, and Budapest, Hungary, before receiving her law degree from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law in 2006.

Prior to becoming deputy commonwealth’s attorney for the 26th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, Williams worked in Winchester as associate attorney for William Bassler and as partner for Harrison & Johnston PLC. She worked as a judicial clerk for the Circuit Court in Roanoke before moving back to the area.

Williams will serve as a prosecutor for the 26th Judicial Circuit of Virginia until a special election in the fall. She plans to run in the special election. The next regular election for the four-year commonwealth’s attorney term is in 2018.

The Clarke County commonwealth’s attorney prosecutes criminal cases for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Clarke County and Town of Berryville.

Williams will earn a salary of $125,205 as commonwealth’s attorney. Her salary as deputy commonwealth’s attorney was $70,000.

— Contact Cathy Kuehner at ckuehner@winchesterstar.com

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