Buta Biberaj Discusses Motivations and Possible Options in Exit Interview with Ilir Zherka

Rafaela Prifti

Former high-profile Democratic prosecutor in northern Virginia Buta Biberaj, a strong proponent of progressive justice reforms is open to running for a different office after her bid for a second term ended last November. In January, the first Albanian American female Attorney in the Loudoun County Commonwealth Office ensured a smooth transition to the current holder of the position, and is now considering her available options. With a decadeslong legal career in both private and public service, Buta is a supremely qualified candidate for a number of positions including the State Attorney General.

On Tuesday afternoon, during a 45 minute Zoom interview hosted and moderated by Ilir Zherka, Chair of the Democratic Council of Albanian Americans (DCAA), a volunteer-led organization, Buta affirmed her personal and professional convictions to the guests and media members online. Her story of coming in the US as a toddler with her Albanian family who first resided in the South Bronx and then choosing a profession with the most impact in the community starting with education and then law school offers plenty of evidence of an inquiring mind that invites challenges and seeks multiple perspectives.

Over thirty years ago, coming out of George Mason Law School, Buta Biberaj opened her own practice becoming a trailblazer for female lawyers in America. Shortly after, she also would serve as a substitute judge for over 11 years and a guardian ad litem for over 23 years. Buta said she appreciated seeing the criminal justice system from many sides, as a defense lawyer, prosecutor and judge. To question the standard formula of “This is how we apply the law”, she took on the challenging task of stepping out of the accustomed “comfort zone” by asking herself: “What are you going to do about it?”

She decided to shift from private law to public service. In 2019, Buta Biberaj ran for office and became the “first woman elected, the first immigrant (Albanian American) and the first Muslim to serve as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County.”

During her first term in office, she pursued reforms and started community supported programs aimed at reducing crime, promoting diversity and developing “a better, more humane approach to safety and justice.”

Buta Biberaj is part of a wave of reform prosecutors who won Virginia four years ago. She speaks out against the dehumanizing effect of the system that unfairly impacts the marginalized, color communities and those with lesser financial means.

Her advice to the younger generation of Albanian Americans? When it comes to actively engaging and supporting your community through your skills, “Don’t overthink it!”

The DCAA website lists Buta Biberaj as a member of its Board of Directors in 2023. Reporting on the campaign, the Loudoun Times-Mirror and national media has stated that her hard fought bid for a second term as County Commonwealth Attorney was narrowly lost by 300 votes. She and her team initiated programs such as Domestic Abuse Response Team, the Victim Witness Program that are aligned with progressive policies. Biberaj, 59, has defended her approach on crime that focuses in prosecuting violent criminals rather than low-level non violent offenders. She describes herself as part of the progressive prosecutor movement.

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