The North Carolina Bar Association Criminal Justice Section presented the 12th Annual Wade M. Smith Award on Thursday, January 23rd to Smithfield Attorney John P. “Jack” O’Hale.
The Award is named for its initial recipient, defense attorney Wade M. Smith of Raleigh and is bestowed upon a criminal defense attorney who exemplifies the highest ideals of the profession. According to the North Carolina Bar Association, the Wade M. Smith Award is one of the two most prestigious honors given by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section and honors the career contributions in the field of criminal justice law. The NCBA says the Award is given to a criminal defense attorney “who exemplified the highest ideals of the profession.”
Mr. O’Hale has been licensed to practice law in North Carolina since 1975. He is admitted to practice before the General Court of Justice of North Carolina; the United States Supreme Court; the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the United States Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Mr. O’Hale is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has tried more than 300 jury trials and thousands of non-jury and administrative trials during his 44 year career.
Jack O’Hale has been board certified in state and federal criminal law since 1993 and has been recognized by his peers as one of the best lawyers in America since 1995. He has also been recognized by North Carolina Business magazine as one of the Legal Elite in North Carolina for criminal defense. For the past four years, he has been nationally ranked by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina and the nation.
Mr. O’Hale operates John P. O’Hale, P.A., in Smithfield, where he has practiced with his son, Frank, since 2016. The senior O’Hale previously served on the Johnston County Board of Education and the UNC Law Alumni Association Board of Directors.
O’Hale served as chair of the Criminal Justice Section in 2003-04. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC School of Law.