It is with great pleasure that I announce the formation of the law firm of John McWilliam, PLLC. After many years practicing law as an employee or partner, I decided several months ago to strike out on my own. John McWilliam, PLLC officially opened its doors on December 1, 2014. What was my former firm’s satellite office in The Raleigh Building at 5 West Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh has become my new firm’s office. My longtime telephone number – 919 772 4000 – is still my number. And I am especially excited that James Crouch has agreed to come with me on my new venture as my firm’s office manager and paralegal. His experience and complete understanding of the needs of a busy criminal practice and of the lawyer who goes to court, as well as his drive and commitment to excellence make him, in my view, the greatest asset of my new firm.
Our office is immaculately organized – a place for everything and everything in its place; Benjamin Franklin would be proud. Calendars are prepared well in advance of court dates; letters to clients are sent out in a timely manner; payments are processed speedily and accurately; telephone calls are returned within 24 hours; files are ready for whatever needs to be done in court; clients are apprised of the various outcomes that may occur on their court dates.
Already, our streamlined and focused approach to my criminal practice has paid dividends: my clients are happy.
I am excited about the direction my practice is headed. In the first nine days of operation, we have opened 24 new files – 14 of which are DWI’s (remember, I despise solicitation and therefore don’t represent many people on small moving violations because they make the mistake of hiring the letter-writers – my cases are real criminal matters). We have weathered the storm that naturally occurs with a change such as this; our phones are working the way they’re supposed to, our wireless network is up and running; our computers are all connected; our bank accounts are perfect; our accountant is watching over everything; bills are being paid on time; my dues and memberships are all paid up; and, most important, again, my clients are happy.
My plans for next year include building up my non-DWI practice. In the days before Wake County had a Public Defender’s office, I had a large serious felony practice – mostly court-appointed cases: murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries, drug charges etc. and, as a consequence of referrals, many private clients as well. And I am very good at those kinds of cases. The current – contract – method for paying lawyers who represent indigent defendants is criminal in itself, as far as I’m concerned, and I won’t have anything to do with it. There is no incentive for the lawyer to fight for his client; the incentive is to dispose of the case (that’s code for pleading guilty, and I won’t do it). If the State would pay lawyers who are willing to represent indigent clients reasonably, as it used to, then I would gladly put myself on those lists and give those clients the representation they deserve. But that’s not going to happen; the State has emasculated indigent defense. So I’m going to focus a good portion of my time on building up that serious felony practice.
I am proud my pro bono publico work, especially for my Occupy Raleigh and Moral Monday clients whose cases I have either won or that the State has dismissed. (Not a single one of my clients was convicted – seven of my Moral Monday defendants were found not guilty because I argued that the State failed to establish who the owner was of the legislative building and trespassing requires the showing of “the property of an other.” – that’s a fun story. One of my Moral Monday clients ran a free medical clinic for poor people in a rural area and had to close the clinic because of her arrest; 2500 people lost their medical care; 12 people lost their jobs. All because she went to her legislative building “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s not a fun story). I will die proud of my inclusion in the NAACP’s Humanitarian of the Year award for my representation of 25 Moral Monday arrestees. I intend to continue to provide free representation to people who find themselves charged with crimes stemming from their efforts to participate in their democracy.
I hope to make time to continue my advocacy for the legalization of marijuana, the lowering of the drinking age and the right of merchants to sell liquor.
I will continue my relentless fight for freedom, equality and democracy.
I will earn the right to call myself and be called: The Champion of Freedom.
Aut Pax Aut Bellum