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      While the Republican majority in the North Carolina Legislature might be composed of Tea Party bigots appealing to their Neanderthal base, they’re not completely stupid.  They know how to whip the ignorant mob (who would actually benefit from progressive policies) into an indignant frenzy – all the while keeping that mob poor, ignorant and self-destructive.  […]
    • HB2: WHAT A DISGRACE. March 29, 2016
      REPUBLICANS: YOUR MASTERS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH YOU BUT PHIL ROBERTSON LOVES YOU. In case you missed it, my fellow freedom-fighters, last Wednesday, the Tea Party leadership in the North Carolina Legislature called a special session of the General Assembly at a cost of about $42,000.00 of North Carolina tax-payer money.  What crisis, you may […]
    • Moral Monday Round Two February 27, 2016
      This week I was privileged to represent two defendants from the most recent Moral Monday arrests at the North Carolina General Assembly’s Rotunda (North Carolina’s Forum ,if you will) .  These two cases were the first cases that the State of North Carolina called for trial stemming from the 2015 Moral Monday demonstrations against the […]
      (THANKS TO THE LATE ANTONIN SCALIA FOR ACTUALLY PENNING SOME DECISIONS THAT WERE CORRECT.  R.I.P., I GUESS.) The following is based on actual events. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental (How do these two disclaimers live with each other?) As we all know, there is no such thing as a […]
    • BLOOD TESTS January 26, 2016
      ADMISSIBILITY GOVERNING CHEMICAL ANALYSES; ADMISSIBILITY; EVIDENTIARY PROVISIONS; CONTROLLED DRINKING PROGRAMS A 1. 20-139.1(c1) ADMISSIBILITY A. NOTICE AND DEMAND. 1. WHEN THE STATE WANTS THE EVIDENCE INTRODUCED. NCGS 20-139.1(c1) is the notice and demand requirement that exists for the purpose of curing the confrontation clause problem facing the State whe […]
    • CHECKPOINTS ARE TERRIBLE. January 22, 2016
      IF YOU’RE A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER AND YOU’RE NOT CHALLENGING CHECKPOINTS, YOU’RE NOT A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER. 1. INTRODUCTION Challenging checkpoints requires, initially, a two-prong analysis: first, the checkpoint’s constitutionality on its face; and, second, its constitutionality as applied. The mistake that many defense lawyers make is looking at the […]
      NON-STATUTORY AGGRAVATING FACTORS There is no such thing as a non-statutory aggravating factor. I repeat: There is no such thing as a non-statutory aggravating factor. All together now: There is no such thing as a non-statutory aggravating factor. NCGS 20-179(d)(9): “Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the crime.” This is the catch-all under […]
    • HAPPY NEW (RELIGION-FREE)YEAR January 3, 2016
      My hopes for 2016, my loyal followers, are for a year in which secularism replaces sectarianism, sanity replaces stupidity, reason replaces religion. 2015 has been a fascinating year.  It has highlighted the blight on our country of senseless gun-violence.  While people are being killed daily by guns that are not for hunting and exist for […]
    • Congratulate Me On My New Website December 29, 2015
      http://www.theraleighcriminallawyer.com.  and while you’re at it, visit my DWI website, http://www.TheRaleighDWILawyer.com.
    • I HAVE TWO REVIEWS; THEY’RE BOTH BAD November 11, 2015
      Those pesky reviews. As the lawyer with the highest number of pending DWI cases in Wake County, North Carolina, I marvel at the fact that I have only two reviews.  How, I wonder to myself, do all these other lawyers have so many reviews?  Why, I ponder, do I seem to attract clients who don’t […]

About John McWilliam

Partner in the law firm of McWilliam, Henderson & Wall, PLLC
In the private practice of law since 1993

Practice Limited Exclusively to Criminal Defense
Born in Argentina, the son of a Scottish Father and an American Mother, John McWilliam’s family moved to England when he was eight, and his education continued in England and Scotland. At the age of 19, like his brother and sister before him, John moved to the United States to the place his Father always reminded him was the land of opportunity and his Mother was so proud to call home.
John attended the University of Denver and North Carolina State University. Two years after graduating from NC State, realizing that his corporate job would certainly make him comfortable and possibly rich, John knew that it wasn’t for him, it wasn’t important. John knew he wanted to be a lawyer.

John enrolled in North Carolina Central University’s School of Law. Central’s commitment to diversity, its strong clinic-centered approach to teaching, its reputation for producing exceptional courtroom lawyers made it the perfect fit for John. He knew he wanted to be a trial lawyer. That was 1990. Three years later, he graduated with his law degree and passed the bar.

1993 was a terrible year for anyone looking for a job. John knew that no one was going to give him a job doing whatever he felt like doing. So he hung out his shingle and started representing anyone who was willing to take a chance on him. What he lacked in experience John made up for in passion and an insistence on being the best. It soon became apparent to him that he had no passion for anything but criminal defense work. Defending the accused satisfied and continues to satisfy his intense desire to be a part of creating a better society – a society that respects the rights of the down-trodden, the unpopular, the different, the marginalized, the accused: “Representing those the State seeks to punish fulfills a need I have to try to keep a runaway government from turning us all into scared little vassals of a police-state.”

Criminal Defense, insists John, is the one area of the law that keeps the government in check, keeps the police honest, keeps all of us free, and keeps the Bill of Rights alive and relevant. It’s the area of the law that strives to maintain the ideals of Democracy, equality and liberty that the Founders of this country fought and died for.

It also became strikingly apparent to John that if he was to become the best criminal defense lawyer to be found, he was going to have to earn that title. And so began his second legal education. John abandoned all other areas of the law and immersed himself in criminal law and criminal defense. He read everything he could on the subject, attended continuing legal education classes on nothing but criminal law, sat in on trials with excellent, experienced lawyers. John threw himself in the deep end. He tried every case he could. And it was fun. And he was good at it.

And then the DWI bug bit. John was aware that while he could try any crime in the book, nothing was more interesting to him than DWI’s. He was wrily amused about the fact that DWI laws seemed to be strewn all over Chapter 20 of the General Statutes; the substantive law in 20-138.1, the sentencing statute in 20-179; the Preliminary Breath Test statute lumped with the Checkpoint statute along with certain license suspension statutes in 20-16 And so on. All so obviously piece-mealed together. And he was becoming increasingly alarmed about how the crime was legislated, prosecuted… and judged. So began his third legal education: Everything there was to know about DWI.

“Here’s what I found out in 1995: The government will stop at nothing to ensure that every single person charged with DWI is convicted – whether he’s guilty or not.”

And, he assures us, the government is still hell-bent on this final solution to the DWI problem; in 2006, in some of the most bizarre and constitutionally dubious legislation ever conceived, the State legislature actually passed a law (among several frightening laws) that requires the maintenance of a public website to track individual judges’ rulings in DWI’s. Clearly, the legislature wasn’t satisfied with enacting laws that violate our constitutional rights but felt it necessary to enact a law designed to intimidate judges across the State into finding innocent people guilty.

And here’s what John has continued to discover and re-discover since he made himself learn everything there is to know about DWI’s since the mid 90’s: It’s working… almost. The legislature, he says, keeps fiddling around with the DWI statutes and keeps chipping away at our constitutional rights — our right against self-incrimination, our right to be confronted with the witnesses against us, our right against unreasonable searches and seizures, our right to gather evidence in our defense, our right to a fair trial. And yes, John reminds us, these are our rights, not just the rights of those actually accused of a crime. But this, he insists, is why politicians can get away with it; they know that not only will the public not rise up in fury, the public will applaud them for being tough on crime: “Because very few people stop to consider that when you take away these rights of the accused from the accused, you take them away from all of us.”

So John strove not only to be the greatest criminal defense lawyer on the face of the planet but the greatest DWI lawyer on the face of the planet. To date, John has no idea how many DWI cases he has tried.:
“Thousands probably. And I have no idea how many I’ve won and how many I’ve lost. My win/lose record is not important to me (if it were, I might be tempted to plead cases guilty rather than risk losing; and I’ll never do that). I’m not afraid to lose. But you can’t win if you don’t fight.”

John has won and lost cases on every possible issue or theory that can exist in a DWI. He will stop at nothing to unearth the issue or issues that might result in a dismissal or a verdict of not guilty. And he will fight ferociously for that result.

John is a member of all the usual associations, academies and organizations that lawyers feel it necessary to advertise – local, state and national bar associations, criminal defense associations, that sort of thing. And, he says, they’re all fine institutions that don’t really mean much. An actually useful credential of John’s is that he is certified in the administration of standardized field sobriety testing, just like the cops. John is not a chemical analyst because he’s not allowed to be, but he does possess the operator’s manual of the EC/IR II (the breathalyzer machine) that the State doesn’t want people like him to have. “What a treasure trove of information (and misinformation) that is!” One last word. John’s admonition: Make sure you hire a DWI lawyer, not someone who solicited you, not someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing. John will be happy to give you the names — other than his — of the select cadre of lawyers who can legitimately call themselves DWI lawyers.

John McWilliam
(919) 772-4000

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