- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NORFOLK (AP) — William P. Robinson Jr., a 20-year Virginia lawmaker and the first black lawyer in the state Attorney General’s Office, died Dec. 18 of liver cancer, according to family members. He was 64.

Mr. Robinson’s son, Trevor, says his father died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Democrats originally urged Mr. Robinson to run for the General Assembly, following in the footsteps of his father, William P. Robinson Sr., who held an inner-city Norfolk seat for 11 years before his son succeeded him in 1981. The elder Mr. Robinson had been the head of the political science department at Norfolk State University.

The younger Mr. Robinson updated the fair-housing laws his father had written and led a commission that assessed Virginia’s highway needs and proposed a plan to pay for them.

“When he walked into the General Assembly, it was as if he’d been there for years,” recalled Delegate Kenneth R. Melvin, Portsmouth Democrat.

Mr. Robinson, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1967, became the first black lawyer in the Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

He later moved on to the Commonwealth Office of the state attorney general.

But legal misconduct led to sanctions on several occasions by the Virginia State Bar, including a 90-day suspension earlier this year.

In 2001, a judge ordered Mr. Robinson to serve jail time for contempt of court when he failed to show up for a client’s drug trial.

Later that year, Winsome Sears became the first black female Republican to be elected to the General Assembly when she defeated the beleaguered lawmaker.

Mr. Robinson continued working as a lawyer even after being diagnosed with cancer in August, winning a dismissal in a Norfolk murder case in October.

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