Criminal Justice Awards Presented
The North Carolina Bar Association Criminal Justice Section presented its annual Peter S. Gilchrist III & Wade M. Smith awards on Thursday, Jan. 8. The awards were presented at the Seventh Annual Peter S. Gilchrist III & Wade M. Smith Awards Dinner at the Embassy Suites hotel in Cary.
Sandra J. Hairston, First Assistant United States Attorney of Greensboro, received the Gilchrist Award. Mark W. Owens Jr. of Owens, Nelson, Owens & Dupree in Greenville will receive the Smith Award.
The section annually presents the awards to an outstanding prosecutor (Gilchrist Award) and defense attorney (Smith Award). The awards are named for their initial recipients, former Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist and renowned defense attorney Wade Smith of Raleigh.
Mark A. Jones, section chair, presided.
Hairston is a career prosecutor who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the North Carolina Central University School of Law. She has served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney (FAUSA) for the Middle District of North Carolina since the end of 2013.
Her experience as a state and federal prosecutor includes service as an assistant district attorney in the Thirteenth Prosecutorial District (Columbus, Brunswick and Bladen counties) from 1987-89 and as special assistant district attorney in the Eighteenth Prosecutorial District (Guilford County) from 1989-90.
For some two decades she has been a mainstay in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where she has served as the lead Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) attorney for the Middle District of N.C. and as chief of the Criminal Division for the Eastern District of N.C.
Ripley Rand, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of N.C., presented the award.
Owens is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Wake Forest University School of Law. He was inducted into the General Practice Hall of Fame in 2002 and received the NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award in 2010.
Considered an elder statesman of the Pitt County bar, Owens is also renowned for his extensive record of public service. He is a former State Bar councilor, past member and chair of the Pitt County Board of Education, and longtime member and current chair of the Pitt County Board of Commissioners.
Wilson attorney Allen Thomas presented the award.