Albert V. Bryan Jr., a federal judge who served for two decades on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ruling on matters including discrimination in public schools and employment as well as delivering a 15-year prison sentence to perennial presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., died Aug. 27 in Alexandria, Va. He was 92.
The cause was pneumonia, said his daughter Vickers Bryan.
Judge Bryan was named to the federal court in 1971 by President Richard M. Nixon and served as chief judge from 1985 to 1991, when he took senior status.
During his years on the bench, Judge Bryan reported for work at the federal courthouse in Alexandria that, in the latter part of his career, bore the name of his father. Albert V. Bryan Sr., a federal district and later appeals court judge, died in 1984.
The Eastern District where both Bryans served was long known as the “rocket docket” for its speedy closure of criminal and civil cases. Describing the younger Judge Bryan, a reporter for The Washington Post wrote in 1986 that his “crisp courtroom style, shared by the other federal judges of the district, means that dilatory tactics are best left at the courthouse door.”
Among Judge Bryan’s most high-profile cases was the trial of LaRouche, a conspiracy theorist who ran for president eight times before his death in February. He was convicted in 1988 on charges related to a plot in which prosecutors alleged he and associates concealed his personal income from the IRS and collected $30 million in loans from supporters whom he did not plan to repay.
Judge Bryan sentenced LaRouche in 1989 to 15 years in prison; he was released in 1994.
Judge Bryan’s other notable cases included a 1978 decision in which he ruled that under the state Medicaid program, Virginia must pay for “necessary, medical, therapeutic abortions” for indigent women.
In 1981, he found that Fairfax County had shown “a pattern and practice of disparate treatment” of African Americans and women in certain jobs and ordered the county to change its hiring and promotion practices “so as to eliminate adverse impact on blacks or women.”
In 1997 and 1998, Judge Bryan twice struck down Arlington County school system admission policies that school administrators presented as efforts to enroll more black and Hispanic students at a sought-after alternative school. Judge Bryan found the policies unconstitutional on the grounds that they discriminated against white and Asian students.
In 2001, reviewing the case of a Fairfax County defendant who insisted that he had been wrongly convicted of rape, Judge Bryan found that in certain circumstances, defendants may have a constitutional right to post-conviction DNA testing. According to The Post, he was the first federal judge to make such a ruling. An appeals court later reversed that decision. (In 2002, DNA analysis showed that the defendant, James Harvey, was guilty.)
Albert Vickers Bryan Jr. was born Nov. 8, 1926, in Alexandria, where he graduated in 1945 from George Washington High School. He attended the Virginia Military Institute before serving in the Marine Corps Reserve and graduated from the University of Virginia’s law school in 1950.
He practiced general law in Alexandria until 1962, when he joined the Fairfax County Circuit Court, from which he was elevated to the federal bench.
In 1950, he married Marilyn Morgan. She died in 2001, and their son Albert V. Bryan III died in 1992. Survivors include three children, Marie Bryan Lyerly and John Bryan, both of Arlington, and Vickers Bryan of Alexandria; a brother; three granddaughters; and two great-grandsons.
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