Gov/Public Sector Honors Whitney
The Government & Public Sector Section of the North Carolina Bar Association presented the Grainger Barrett Award for Excellence to Chief Judge Frank Whitney of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
The award was presented on Thursday, Jan. 19, during the section’s annual meeting and CLE at the N.C. Bar Center.
“It is indeed an honor to receive the award,” stated Whitney, who served as chair of the section in 2014-15 and currently serves as a vice president on the NCBA Board of Governors. “Public sector attorneys serve their communities well while receiving little or no recognition for their work.
“This award, named for a distinguished lifelong public servant, really belongs to all those unsung public sector attorneys. I am humbled that the Section would select me for the award.”
John Schifano, section chair, presented the award.
“The Grainger Barrett Award for Excellence,” Schifano said, “is an award given by the section to honor an outstanding government or public sector attorney who is an exemplar of the excellence, dedication and passion for justice that we all strive for.”
“In my humble opinion and that of the nominating committee, (Judge Whitney) is an excellent exemplar of the quiet excellence of North Carolina’s government and public sector attorneys.”
Whitney is a native of Charlotte and 1982 graduate of Wake Forest University, where he was a member of the ROTC program and Phi Beta Kappa Society. He earned a joint law degree and MBA from the University of North Carolina School of Law and UNC-Chapel Hill, respectively, in 1987.
After a year in private practice in Washington, D.C., Whitney clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit. He then returned to private practice before serving as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from 1990-2001.
Following a year of private practice in Charlotte, Whitney served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina from 2002-06. He was nominated to the Western District bench by President Bush in 2006 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, receiving his commission on July 5, 2006. He has served as chief judge since 2013.
Whitney’s distinguished military career includes service in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1982 and deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is believed to be the first federal judge to serve as a military judge presiding over courts-martial in a combat theater, and presided over the last court martial in Iraq before completion of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.
“The credit should go to the 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who are over there in harm’s way,” Whitney told Wake Forest Magazine in 2012. “I saw another side of that age bracket, and they inspired me. Our country has a great future with those men and women.”
Previous recipients of the Grainger Barrett Award for Excellence are: M. Ann Reed (2001), Jo Anne Sanford (2003), John Stuart Bruce (2004), Gill P. Beck (2005), Dan McLawhorn (2006), Ann B. Wall (2007), Curtis B. Venable (2008), Jeffrey P. Gray (2009), Grainger R. Barrett (2010), James B. Blackburn III (2011), M. Lynne Weaver and Philip A. Lehman (2012), Ellis Hankins (2014), Chief Justice (ret.) Sarah Parker (2015) and (2016) Frayda Bluestein.