Criminal

James P. Cooney III Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, Charlotte

My favorite place would be on my bike or taking a swim or on a run and preferably doing all three in the early morning sun at a beautiful location. I spend most of my free time training for triathlons. It allows me to sort through and reorganize my life, to train my emotions and to clear my mind. There is no problem that is not more manageable after a long training session or race.

Vita: Born Oct. 26, 1957, in San Francisco; bachelor’s from Duke University and law degree from University of Virginia; wife and three daughters. Why he chose this field: I always thought that lawyers were supposed to be in the courtroom. Criminal law in particular is one of the highest challenges a courtroom lawyer can have. Memorable cases: I will never forget the expressions on the faces of Allen Gaines’ jury when they chose to unanimously give him life after convicting him of the murder of a police officer, a crime that many in the community wanted him to die for. And I cannot forget watching John Noland, my client and friend for 14 years, be executed by the state. What he’d be if not a lawyer: A high-school social-studies teacher. Hero: I grew up wanting to be Atticus Finch. I have been lucky enough to meet real Atticus Finches. The most impressive is David Bruck, the attorney for Susan Smith and the 4th Circuit capital counsel. He handles the worst of cases with a grace, dignity and wisdom that I hope to achieve someday. Don’t ask him to: Fix anything. I am a mechanical idiot.