Kearns Davis Receives NCBA's Wade M. Smith Award


Brooks Pierce is proud to announce that Kearns Davis has been named the recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Criminal Justice Section’s Wade M. Smith Award for criminal defense.

"Kearns is committed to our clients, the criminal justice system and the North Carolina legal community, as demonstrated by his record in the courtroom and in the community,” said Managing Partner Reid Phillips. “I am thrilled to see his leadership in the legal profession recognized and honored.”

The Wade M. Smith Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by the NCBA on a criminal defense attorney. It recognizes an advocate whose career demonstrates the highest ideals of ethics and professionalism, who has compiled an “exemplary record and reputation within the legal community,” and who serves as “an active, positive force inside and outside the courtroom in working to improve the criminal justice system.” The Section will honor Davis at its annual Gilchrist/Smith Awards Dinner on Jan. 18, together with the recipient of the Peter S. Gilchrist Award, which recognizes a North Carolina prosecutor.

Davis founded Brooks Pierce’s white-collar defense and investigations practice in 2007. A former Assistant United States Attorney and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he has tried jury cases at all levels of federal and North Carolina trial courts, and he represents clients in U.S. trial and appellate courts across the country. He served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association in 2016-17.

Among his most notable cases, Davis represented a Division I coach in Operation Varsity Blues, the nationwide college-admissions investigation, obtaining for his client the government's only agreement in those cases to dismiss all charges against a defendant. In another high-profile matter, he successfully defended a former member of Congress against bribery and false statement charges. And in a recent federal jury trial, he won not-guilty verdicts on all counts for a company owner indicted for mail fraud, money laundering, theft of government property, and obstruction.

“I’m honored by my clients’ trust,” Davis said, “and by the privilege to advocate for them when the stakes are high for their lives and livelihoods. I’m humbled and grateful for this recognition.”


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