Newsmakers – Lonnie Rich & Ed Rosenthal

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Lonnie Rich and Ed Rosenthal are opening a new law firm near Old Town Alexandrias Torpedo Factory. But in truth, theres very little actually new about Rich, Rosenthal, Manitta, Dzubin & Kroeger (RRMDK).

Neither man is new to the area; both Rich and Rosenthal have been involved in the community for more than 20 years. They served as partners at another local law practice Rich, Greenberg, Rosenthal & Costle where they worked alongside then-associates Lana Manitta, Richard Dzubin and Shannon Kroeger. The firm, until recently, was located just a mile from RRMDKs new offices.

Rich lives in Del Ray, and Rosenthal got his first real-world legal experience working in the city. Rich served on the Alexandria City Council from 1991 to 2000, and he remains active in civic affairs through organizations such as the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. The American Civil Liberties Union is Rosenthals chief expenditure of time outside work, Rosenthal said, adding that he has done his fair share of Little League coaching.

And it is this connection to the community that provides the impetus for launching their new firm.  Our lease terminated, and we needed to move, Rich said. Two of the partners wanted to move to Tysons Corner, but [Rosenthal and I] wanted to stay here in Alexandria.

Alexandria held a lot of continuing attractions, added Rosenthal.

So the firm underwent an amicable split. Rich and Rosenthal invited their former associates Manitta, Dzubin and Kroeger to become partners in the new business, and RRMDK was born.

It is a full-service law firm with practice areas including wills, family law, state and federal criminal defense, civil liberties and constitutional law. As Rich puts it, they see a wide variety of cases, ranging from sexual offenders to credit card fraud.

Both men say the best part of being a lawyer is getting to help people. Rich, who specializes in business and personal planning, said he enjoys helping people get from where they are to where they want to be.

For Rosenthal, the appeal is slightly different. I guess the romantic side of becoming a lawyer is representing the underdog against bullying, he said.

Rosenthal told the story of Dr. Tran Trong Cuong, a Vietnamese immigrant who had been charged with and convicted of 127 counts of felony drug distribution after shady characters allegedly exploited his gullibility to get powerful, restricted painkillers. Tran faced 97 months in prison and the forfeiture of his home before Rich and Rosenthals firm got involved.

Rosenthal reviewed the convictions and discovered that the evidence for 80 of them was flimsy or non-existent, and he helped Tran appeal the case. One of the appeal judges told Rosenthal, Come on Ed. Ill send the case for review, but you know as well as I do that hes as guilty as sin.

The appeals court dismissed the 80 disputed convictions. When a jury heard the remanded case, they acquitted Tran of the remaining 47 charges. He may have been a bad doctor, Rosenthal said, but he was not a criminal mastermind.

A framed copy of the jurys 47-count acquittal with the words guilty as sin written above it hangs on RRMDKs office walls.

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