the judge at the time. Judge Snepp had
retired by then. I went to see the judge and
said, “I just don’t want to do this anymore. I
can’t. I’ve had it.”
Q: Now it sounds like you’ve got your
hands in a little bit of everything.
A: That’s true. The firm was not so much
looking for somebody to do criminal
defense work. So in fact, at the time,
Bill Diehl, who was a great lawyer and
somebody I learned a tremendous amount
from, was defending First Union Bank in a
pretty high-profile lender-liability claim.
He asked me to help him with that
case, and I did. We ultimately won. We got
summary judgment for the bank in federal
court here. The other side appealed to the
4th Circuit Court of Appeals. We wound
up settling the case, the night before the
appellate argument, by getting the bank
all of the money plus all of the interest.
Do you know Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?
He was an Indian guru who had come to
Oregon and started a commune called
Rajneeshpuram. He had people coming
from all over the United States, the
world, to settle in what had formerly been
Antelope, Oregon, but had been renamed
to Rajneeshpuram. Bill Diehl was the
leader on that case. We defended the
Bhagwan in a very high-profile case. He
was indicted for arranging marriages.
The marriages were between his
followers, who were Americans, and
people who were from other countries, so
they could stay in the United States. The
government charged him with conspiracy
to violate the immigration statutes. The
grand jury had been investigating him for
quite some time. The Bhagwan and his
leadership decided it would be good for
him to take a break. So he got on a private
jet and was headed out of the country for a
little R&R, when the government arrested
him in Charlotte for alleged flight to avoid
prosecution. Our evidence was that he
didn’t know that the indictment had been
handed down and sealed. The government
claimed that he knew that, and that he was
trying to get out of the country. After about
a week of fighting and arguing with the
government, we worked out a deal for him
to leave the country, which he was on the
way to do. That’s one of the earliest cases I
was on at the firm. I had the good fortune
of working with people who attracted all
kinds of interesting work.
Q: What kind of work do you attract?
A: I help people under government
scrutiny. A lot of my clients are not
regular participants in the legal system.
So the legal system scares them because
they’ve heard horror stories. Some of the
government investigators can be pretty
aggressive and accusatory. I’ve always felt
that if you give me a United States grand
jury and six months, I could indict a ham
sandwich. I’m not the first person who
I’ve done work for financial institutions.
I represented and still do represent
professionals, lawyers, accountants,
physicians. I represent lawyers who are
under scrutiny by the government in white-collar investigations. We’ve had a fair
amount of mortgage fraud investigations
and prosecutions around Charlotte.
They’ve looked at lawyers, particularly
lawyers in the real estate business. I also
represent lawyers who have grievances
brought against them, before the grievance
committee or the state bar and before the
disciplinary hearing commission.
It’s trying for my clients. Anybody with
a brain in their heads is intimidated by
the government. So I think good lawyers
always try to manage people’s fears.
You try to reassure them about what’s a
rational fear and what’s an irrational fear.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Some of my best work, I cannot talk
about. There’s been some insider trading
matters where the government, I think,
ultimately concluded there was no
case to be brought. If you can defend
a government investigation and avoid
charges, that’s the best outcome.
People who hire me in those situations
are not looking for any attention about the
fact that the government scrutinized them.
If I’m able to get through that without
there ever being any public attention, then
I quietly close my file.
Q: What’s something that your peers in the
bar might be surprised to learn about you?
A: I have a strong interest in fly-fishing.
There’s not much I love more than that. I
go for a week to 10 days every year, out in
Montana. It’s like everything else disappears.
I find that the places you go to fly-fish are
about as removed from a courtroom as
possible. I enjoy the whole process of trying
to catch a fish with a fly. Lots of trout—
rainbows, browns, the occasional book trout;
and out West, cutthroat. I also enjoy music
and I like to cook.
Q: What’s your best dish?
Probably a steak with the typical trimmings.
Although, I have a little garden in the
backyard, and I’ve had bushels of eggplants
this year. My wife and I travel some in
Europe and particularly in Italy, and learned
a little bit about how the Italians cook
eggplant. And of course, I love history.
Q: Do you have a favorite period?
A: I’m fascinated by all of history. I just
read a book, Persian Fire. It’s about the
encounter between the Persian Empire
and the Greeks, and how the Greeks turned
back the Persians. ... Western history
would have been entirely different had
the Persian Empire conquered Greece and
moved on into Europe.
I think the most fascinating period in
American history is the Civil War. The fact
that Americans were killing each other
on an industrial scale, 150 years ago, is
something that I don’t think we think about.
I’ve spent some time on the battlefields,
particularly in the East. It’s sobering. In fact,
I’ll just mention this: I was born in 1952, and
I was the first grandchild in my generation.
My great-great-great-grandmother was
alive at the time. She was born in 1860.
She could remember the day that her
father, who was a Confederate soldier,
came home from what she called the “War
Between the States.” She told my father the
story of that day. She remembered it vividly.
The concept that I have this photograph of
me being held as a baby by the woman who
witnessed that? It’s pretty amazing.