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New Attorney General fires Heaphy, UVa’s chief counsel

Tim Heaphy, a former federal prosecutor who investigated the city of Charlottesville’s response to the 2017 Unite the Right rally, is out as the University of Virginia’s top lawyer.

Heaphy, who is currently on a leave of absence to lead the work of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, was fired Friday by new Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Miyares took office Jan. 15.

“University leaders are grateful to Tim for his outstanding service to our community and disappointed to see it come to an end,” UVa spokesman Brian Coy said in a statement.

Victoria LaCivita, director of communications for the attorney general, said the decision had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 committee or its investigations.

“It is common practice for an incoming administration to appoint new staff that share the philosophy and legal approach of the Attorney General,” LaCivita wrote. “Every counsel serves at the pleasure of the Attorney General.”

Heaphy was appointed as UVa counsel and senior assistant attorney general in August 2018. The former U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Virginia led a team of lawyers who reviewed the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville’s responses to violent clashes in August 2017.

As UVa’s counsel, Heaphy has helped the university navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, weighing on requirements and sanctions for students who don’t comply. The university also adopted new free-speech policies under his watch.

Heaphy said in a statement that serving as University Counsel has been a tremendous honor and privilege.

“As a two-time graduate of the University, the parent of a current student, and a longtime resident of Charlottesville, I love the university and have been privileged to contribute to its aspiration to be both great and good,” he said. “I’m proud of the work our office has done to navigate the diverse legal challenges faced by the University and to provide strategic advice and counsel to President Ryan and his leadership team. While I’m disappointed that my time as University Counsel has come to an end, I’m confident that the office will continue to provide quality service as the University continues to thrive in the days to come.”

Since Heaphy started working with the Jan. 6 committee, Jasmine Yoon has led the Office of University Counsel, according to the UVa news release.

According to The Washington Post, the counsel for George Mason University also was fired.

“Our decision was made after reviewing the legal decisions made over the last couple of years,” LaCivita said in a statement to the Washington Post. “The Attorney General wants the university counsel to return to giving legal advice based on law, and not the philosophy of a university. We plan to look internally first for the next lead counsel.”


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