Edward Brian MacMahon

Edward “Ed” Brian MacMahon Jr., a widely respected criminal defense attorney who represented a number of high-profile clients, including the man known as the 20th Hijacker in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, died surrounded by family members on March 12. He was 62.

Mr. MacMahon, who resided in The Plains, Virginia, was born on July 30th, inside of a taxi somewhere between Annandale, Virginia and Columbia Hospital for Women in Washington, DC. His birth in transit was a fitting start to an exceptionally active and engaging life; all who knew and love Ed recall that he could never sit idle for long.

Ed was the third of six children and a graduate of The Hill School in Middleburg, Virginia, Episcopal High School, the University of Virginia, and Tulane Law School. He was a true scholar and intellect who valued education highly; his mother, the late Ann MacMahon, relished sharing that he was a straight A student with the exception of Fs in “Conduct.” He infamously spent several hours — or overnight, depending on the day he told the story — in the Middleburg jail following his 8th grade graduation after being misidentified as a runaway from Georgia. An ardent UVA Wahoo, he was a proud brother of St. Elmo Hall and walk-on member of the lacrosse team. He loved returning to Charlottesville for games or simply to walk around Grounds with his lifelong friends, his children, and any young person in his orbit who expressed interest in attending his beloved University.

Many knew Ed as a brilliant criminal defense attorney, and indeed he was. He credited much of his success to his start as a Law Clerk for The Honorable Claude M. Hilton; besides being a mentor and teacher, Judge Hilton was a lifelong friend and father figure to Ed. In over 30 years as an attorney Ed represented a wide range of clients but was particularly accomplished in national security cases defending against espionage and terrorism charges. Some of his notable cases include United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et. al., and United States v. Ali Al-Timimi.

He was a member of the state bar for Virginia and New York, was admitted to US District Courts for the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, the Defense Bar for Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, and the Bar of the International Criminal Court, and was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Ed embodied a work hard, play hard mentality. He loved lacrosse and as an adult played on teams including the Galloping Ghosts and the Geezers, and he felt great satisfaction nurturing a love of the game in kids as a youth coach and furthering the reach of the sport in the Mid-Atlantic. Following his retirement from lacrosse in his early 40s (too many hot pads required after game day, he said), he committed that same athletic energy to golf. He loved few things more than playing golf with friends or his son, and he was a scratch golfer and a member at several clubs. Robert Trent Jones Golf Club — where he served as President for six years — Old Memorial, and Ballybunion were dearest to his heart.

To the loving exasperation of his children, Ed was a man who knew a lot about a lot and didn’t hesitate to tell you all about it. He was a student of history, particularly the histories of the United States and Ireland. He was a lifelong student of the Constitution and the founding of this nation, and his deeply held values and principles inspired by the Founders were central to his practice of law and approach to the criminal justice system.

He cherished his Irish heritage, and his children and their friends grew accustomed to learning Gaelic alongside him in the car to and from school or practice. Ed was happiest exploring and golfing in County Kerry, which was very much a second home to him. Heaven help any tour guide in his vicinity, as he was particularly talented at hijacking the role and providing more depth and rich detail than any tourism professional.

He loved music — most especially the Grateful Dead and reggae — and spent many happy nights at his cabin in Virginia, playing guitar and singing with family and friends. He found delight in the outdoors and took great pride in the Purple Martins he successfully coaxed to roost in his yard, always marveling over these graceful birds and their remarkable migration between Brazil and his home on High Acre Mountain in Fauquier county.

Above all else, Ed cherished his large family and his many, many friends. He loved deeply and was deeply loved. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Dr. Edward Brian MacMahon and Ann Sheridan MacMahon, and his nephew Jamie MacMahon. He is survived by his children Adela Evans Griswold, Edward Brian MacMahon, III, and Alexandra Heurich MacMahon, his loving and devoted partner of many years Stephanie Salvatori, his siblings Paul (Marion), Margaret (Tommy Carroll), Steve (Tracie), John, and Helen (Mugs Mickum), and many nieces and nephews. He will be missed tremendously.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating blood in Ed’s memory. He was the grateful recipient of many blood and platelet transfusions in the last months of his life, and he never failed to express deep thanks for the individuals whose blood sustained him through his illness. Donations can be made through the Inova Blood Services (inovablood.org), the American Red Cross (redcrossblood.org), or your local blood bank.

Services will be private.

Arrangements by Royston Funeral Home, Middleburg, VA.

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