Gilchrist/Smith Awards Presented

Honorees Barton Menser, left, and Thomas Manning.

The Peter S. Gilchrist III & Wade M. Smith awards were presented Thursday, Feb. 25, by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section at its eighth annual Gilchrist/Smith Awards Dinner.

Deputy District Attorney Barton Menser of Charlotte received the Gilchrist Award while defense attorney Thomas C. Manning of the Manning Law Firm in Raleigh received the Smith Award.

Robert C. Kemp III, chair of the Criminal Justice Section, presided over the event, which was held at the Embassy Suites Cary.

The section annually presents the Gilchrist and Smith 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 defense attorney Wade Smith of Raleigh.

Menser was introduced by Gilchrist and current Mecklenburg County District Attorney R. Andrew Murray.

Menser began his career as a prosecutor in 1980 as an assistant district attorney in Prosecutorial District 15A (Alamance County). Two years later he returned to his native Mecklenburg County to serve as an assistant district attorney under Peter Gilchrist in the 26th Prosecutorial District.

Aside from a brief period during which he engaged in private practice, Menser has been with the Mecklenburg County district attorney’s office ever since. According to his nominating materials, one of Menser’s key contributions to the office has been his training of assistant district attorneys for some 25 years.

Menser is a 1972 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar, and later served an officer in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1978.

Manning was introduced by District 6 District Attorney Valerie Asbell of Ahoskie.

Manning has been practicing law for 38 years. He began his career as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina from 1978-80, after which he entered private practice as a criminal defense lawyer. He is a certified specialist in both state and federal criminal law and a previous recipient of the Board of Specialization’s Howard L. Gum Service Award.

Manning is a 1974 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a 1977 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is a longtime member and past president of the Wake County Academy of Criminal Trial Lawyers.

Additional recipients of the Gilchrist Award are (2009) Edward W. Grannis Jr. of Fayetteville, (2010) William D. Kenerly of Salisbury, (2011) C. Colon Willoughby Jr. of Raleigh, (2012) Calvin W. Colyer of Fayetteville, (2013), James J. Coman of Raleigh and (2014) Sandra J. Hairston of Greensboro.

Additional recipients of the Smith Award are (2009) Locke T. Clifford of Greensboro, (2010) James P. Cooney III of Charlotte, (2011) Joseph B. Cheshire V of Raleigh, (2012) James E. Ferguson of Charlotte, (2013) Fredrick G. Lind of Greensboro and (2014) Mark W. Owens Jr. of Greenville.

The awards dinner preceded the Criminal Justice Section Annual Meeting and CLE which took place on Friday, Feb. 26, at the N.C. Bar Center.