Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Matthew Engle moved to Virginia in 1998 to attend Washington & Lee University School of Law. After receiving his JD with honors in 2001, Matthew joined the Virginia Bar and took at job as a Staff Attorney at the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, a non-profit law office in Charlottesville that provides representation to death-sentenced inmates in state and federal habeas corpus litigation, appeals, and clemency proceedings. After six years at VCRRC, Matthew took a position with the Office of the Capital Defender for Northern Virginia, a public defender office that represents indigent inmates against whom the Commonwealth is seeking the death penalty. From 2007-10, he provided pre-trial and trial defense to inmates charged with serious felonies, including capital murder.
In 2010, Matthew was asked to join the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Law as the Legal Director of the law school’s Innocence Project Clinic. For four years, Matthew taught at UVA while simultaneously representing many wrongfully convicted inmates in habeas corpus proceedings and petitions for writs of actual innocence. For the 2014-15 academic year, Matthew taught at Washington & Lee University School of Law, his alma mater. He also served as the interim director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, consulting with attorneys defending capital cases throughout the Commonwealth. As a professor, Matthew sought to instill in his students the values of client loyalty and vigorous advocacy.
In 2015, Matthew transitioned to private practice and opened an office in Charlottesville with his partner, Bernadette Donovan. He currently represents capital murder defendants at the trial level throughout Virginia. He also continues to represent wrongfully convicted inmates in post-conviction proceedings. Although his practice has focused primarily on death penalty and habeas corpus cases, he also provides trial representation in other serious felony cases.
Matthew frequently trains other attorneys at Continuing Legal Education seminars. Each year since 2012, he has presented the Legal Update at the Virginia Bar Association’s Capital Defense Workshop. He has also presented on a variety of other topics at the Workshop, including Litigating Brady Claims, Victim Impact Evidence, Post-Trial Litigation in Circuit Court, Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach, and Capital Investigation/Mitigation. He has lectured on Litigating Actual Innocence at the Virginia Trial Lawyer’s Association Annual Convention and at VTLA’s Advanced Criminal Law Retreat. In 2014, he gave a presentation at the Virginia Public Defender Conference on his representation of the Petitioner in the case of E.C. v. Department of Juvenile Justice. In 2015, he spoke at the NAACP Capital Punishment Training Conference at AIRLIE on the subject of Attacking the Snitch Witness. Also in 2015, Matthew served on a joint committee including representatives from the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, the Supreme Court of Virginia, and the Virginia State Bar, to develop mandatory training for attorneys seeking certification as qualified for appointment in death penalty cases. At the subsequent Capital Certification Training, Matthew presented on the topic of Legal Ethics.
When not working, Matthew enjoys
being disappointed by Cleveland professional sports teams re-watching Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, building Legos and making YouTube videos with his sons, and taking his teenage daughter shopping for clothes.
Cleveland State University (B.A. 1998)
Washington & Lee University School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 2001)
Licensed to practice:
Supreme Court of Virginia
Supreme Court of the United States
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Community and Professional Organizations:
Virginia State Bar
Certified by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission as qualified for appointment as capital lead counsel, capital co-counsel, capital appellate counsel, and capital habeas counsel
Virginia Bar Association Capital Defense Workshop Planning Committee
Board of Directors, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty