Edward S. Rosenthal




Amherst College
Georgetown University Law Center

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

Ed Rosenthal is a founding partner in Rohrbach Rosenthal LLP. He entered private practice as a sole practitioner in Alexandria, Virginia, upon graduation from Georgetown Law Center in May 1976. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College as an Independent Scholar in 1973.  For many years, he handled mostly criminal defense and civil rights cases. Then, in 1982, Mr. Rosenthal helped found and acted as managing partner of Rich Rosenthal Brincefield Manitta Dzubin & Kroeger, PLLC and its predecessor firms. Throughout his more than 45 years as a litigator, Mr. Rosenthal has guided and advised clients, tried cases, briefed and argued appeals, and settled a wide range of controversies, primarily in Northern Virginia, but also throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and in various other state and federal courts.

Mr. Rosenthal has maintained an AV “Pre-Eminent” peer rating by Martindale Hubbell for nearly three decades. He has enjoyed notable accomplishments at both the trial and appellate levels. At the trial level, his litigation experience has included:

  • the successful defense of a notorious Old Town Alexandria capital murder prosecution;
  • six- and seven-figure awards and settlements in complex personal injury and product liability cases;
  • a writ of mandamus entered against a local City Manager in a police officer’s pension dispute;
  • jury verdicts in excess of $350,000 for compensatory and punitive damages following a three-week trade secrets trial; and
  • the establishment, following a three-month trial against Nissan Motors, of a design defect in the seating configuration of the 1982 Nissan 200SX—which verdict resulted in a lifetime, structured settlement on behalf of a courageous young client who suffered devastating quadriplegic injuries.

In appellate courts, Mr. Rosenthal has briefed and argued challenging appeals resulting in decisions as diverse and noteworthy as:

  • establishing limits on the introduction of reputation evidence and hearsay opinion testimony under the Federal Rules of Evidence;
  • requiring the testimony of patients to support each instance for which a physician may be prosecuted for writing illegitimate drug prescriptions;
  • refining the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine under the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure requirements;
  • vindicating the rights of state prisoners to a drug- and weapon-free environment at the Virginia State Penitentiary;
  • requiring insurance carriers paying settlements to see to the proper application of proceeds disbursed on behalf of a child plaintiff;
  • enforcing a federal trial court’s obligation to evaluate and honor an accused’s Sixth Amendment request to represent himself in a criminal prosecution; and
  • establishing that a police department’s collection and storage of motor vehicle location data using Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology involves “personal information” under Virginia’s Data Collection and Dissemination Act.

A passionate advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, Mr. Rosenthal is the author of “The Bill of Rights in Its 200th Year: A Casualty of the War on Drugs?”, which was featured in George Mason University’s 1992 Civil Rights Law Journal. He has been an occasional lecturer on the Constitution and criminal law at schools and universities. Mr. Rosenthal also has testified on the unconstitutionality of proposed legislation before the Courts of Justice Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates.

As the former chair of the Alexandria Bar Association’s Legislative Affairs Committee, Mr. Rosenthal contributed to the successful effort to establish a Public Defender’s Office for the City of Alexandria, one of the first such offices in the Commonwealth. He has served as an evaluator in the D.C. Street Law Mock Trial Program sponsored by Georgetown University. Under the auspices of the Federal Judicial Training Center, Mr. Rosenthal has participated in the training of new federal trial judges.

Mr. Rosenthal is a long-time member and activist in the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, for which he has served for more than a decade on its Board of Directors. He is the chair of the Virginia ACLU Affiliate’s statewide Legal Advisory Council, which provides advice and guidance in the selection of the cases the organization decides to undertake.

Mr. Rosenthal has litigated civil and criminal matters over more than 46 years in the storied and demanding “Rocket Docket” (the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia) and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. His practice there has included trials and settlements involving:

  • criminal defense—including charges of mail and wire fraud, prison riot, counterfeiting, prescribing narcotics without medical justification, and denial of right to self-representation;
  • the successful defense of a Venezuelan diplomat who waived his diplomatic immunity and remained in the United States to win exoneration of unjust charges of felonious sexual assault;
  • upholding the power of a Virginia trial court to suspend imposition of sentence following the entry of a guilty plea to a drug felony;
  • Title VII actions (e.g., employment discrimination);
  • Section 1983 litigation (e.g., excessive force, illegal search and seizure, unlawful interrogations, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, medical care alleged to constitute cruel and unusual punishment);
  • Lanham Act litigation (e.g., unfair trade practices, commercial advertising);
  • Qui tam actions (claims of fraud against the United States);
  • infant settlements (e.g., mishandling of fiduciary funds);
  • Federal Tort Claims Act actions (e.g., unlawful immigration arrest, personal injuries caused by federal agents and employees);
  • business torts (e.g., business conspiracy, trade secrets, noncompetition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, nondisclosure agreements, and so on); and
  • class action litigation for injunctive relief for unconstitutional prison conditions at the former Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond.

Notable Cases: Hart v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 283 (1980); Shrader v. White, 761 F.2d 975 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Dobson, 753 F.2d 1295 (4th Cir. 1986); Reed v. Swank, 900 F.2d 254 (4th Cir. 1990); United States v. Tran Trong Cuong, 18 F.3d 1132 (4th Cir. 1994); Halterman v. Radisson Hotel, 259 Va. 171 (2000); Medina v. United States, 92 F. Supp. 2d 545 (E.D. Va. 2000); Bhatia v. Mehak, 262 Va. 544 (2001); Staton v. Commonwealth, 2001 LEXIS 673 (Va. Ct. App. 2001); Staton v. Commonwealth, 2002 Va. App. LEXIS 453 (Va. Ct. App. 2002), aff’d (Va. 2003); Starrs v. Commonwealth, 752 S.E.2d 812, 2014 Va. LEXIS Va. App 11; Neal v. Fairfax Cty. Police Dep’t, 295 Va. 334 (2018); Neal v. Fairfax Cty. Police Dep’t, 102 Cir. Ct. 11 (Fairfax 2019).

950 N Washington St Suite 239, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States