Alumni in the News for July 2018

Graphic featuring a graduate's mortar board and tassel with the words Wake Forest Law Alumni Media Roundup

Wake Forest School of Law alumni are featured regularly in the media. Following is a roundup of news mentions from July 2018:

Judge Thomas Church (JD ‘73)  of Iredell County District Court was featured in the Record & Landmark on July 2, 2018:

Judge Church will retire at the end of the end of the year.  His first job in the legal field was as an assistant district attorney for the 20th District Court of North Carolina. Then in 1987 Church went to work as an assistant district attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte as part of the Presidential Drug Task Force. In 2005, after prosecuting criminal cases for 25 years, Church took the bench as a 22A District Court judge.


Davida Martin (JD ‘78) was featured in the Winston-Salem Journal on July 2:

June 30 was Davida Martin’s official last day as Forsyth County’s attorney. She worked inthe Forsyth County attorney’s office for 30 years.

She initially worked at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as an assistant Equal Employment Opportunity officer then as an EEO coordinator for Hercules Corp. at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.  She joined her father’s law practice in Winston-Salem in 1980, then after five years started her own law practice. On March 1, 1988, she joined the Forsyth County attorney’s office as one of its assistant county attorneys. She became county attorney for Forsyth County in 1998. She was the first African-American woman in the state to hold the position of county attorney.

Ben C. Sutton, Jr.  of Teall Capital Partners (BA ‘80, JD ‘83) was featured in NY SportScene on July:

The National Football Foundation has named Ben C. Sutton, Jr. to its coveted Leadership Hall of Fame.  Sutton, the founder and Chairman of Teall Capital Partners, is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders in the sports and entertainment industry. Teall Capital Partners, a private equity company with investments in a portfolio of businesses including Riddle & Bloom (national next-gen marketing agency), Tailgate Guys (national market-leading hospitality company), Sunshine Beverages, and Dyehard Fan Supply (national sports/entertainment merchandising business).  Sutton was previously Chairman and CEO of IMG College, which he founded as ISP Sports in 1992, essentially inventing the college media business as it is known today. IMG is the largest college sports company and sports/entertainment sales organization in America (SportsBusiness Journal). In addition to building the core businesses of IMG College into four national market-leading companies, he was largely responsible for the meteoric overall growth of IMG Worldwide, engineering the sale of the company in 2014 for $2.4 billion. IMG was the national market leader in Media, Licensing, Ticketing, and Stadium Seating, working with over 225 universities, conferences, NCAA, and College Football Playoff.

Sutton has received numerous distinctions including induction into the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Wake Forest UniversityDistinguished Alumni award, as well as induction into the North Carolina Sports, National Football Foundation, NACMA and SportsBusiness Journal Champions Halls of Fame. He is a trustee or director at Wake Forest University, White House Historical Association, United States Olympic Committee, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, National Football Foundation, and Naismith Basketball Foundation. The Sutton Family Foundation has invested over $40 million in philanthropic causes.

Rene Caldwell Gilbertson (BA ‘89, JD ‘92) of Los Angeles Superior Court was featured in Morganton’s News Herald on July 4:

Rene Caldwell Gilbertson was elected as a superior court judge in her home district in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, according to a press release provided by her campaign. Gilbertson will leave her current position as senior deputy counsel for Los Angeles County. She has practiced law for 24 years, working primarily in the area of juvenile law, handling child abuse and neglect cases.


While at Wake Forest, she served in student government and was the founding president of the Pi Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a public service sorority for women of color and the first sorority on the Wake Forest campus. Gilbertson began her career working as a staff attorney at The Alliance for Children’s Rights and became its interim executive director in 1995. In 1996, she went on to work in juvenile court at the Children’s Law Center Los Angeles (formerly Dependency Court Legal Services).

In her position as lead attorney with the Office of the County Counsel in Los Angeles, where she has worked since 1999, Gilbertson was tasked with supervising other attorneys in the courtroom. She also served as legal advisor to the local sheriff’s department and to other L.A. County agencies, including the Registrar’s Office and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  She also serves on the board of directors of the Cancer Support Community of Redondo Beach and is a member of the Palos Verdes chapter of the National Charities League, a service organization for mothers and daughters.


Bruce Brandon (JD ‘85) was featured in Aero News Network on July 11:

Professor Bruce Brandon is an aviation attorney who began a lifetime involvement in aviation when he made his initial solo flight on his sixteenth birthday in a J-3 Cub and obtained his private pilot’s license as a high school student.

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, he became an Air Force Pilot and served on active duty. After fulfilling his military commitment, he became an airline pilot, graduated with honors from the Wake Forest University School of Law and has practiced with the largest law firm in North Carolina. He is a former adjunct faculty member of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Basic Aircraft Accident Investigation School.

Bruce’s experience covers the spectrum of aviation law, from airplane crash litigation, to FAA enforcement actions, to proceedings at the National Transportation Safety Board. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS), a member of the North Carolina Bar, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, American Association for Justice and retired member of the Air Line Pilots Association. He currently flies a Twin Comanche and an Aeronca Champ.


The late Allan B. Head (BA ‘66, JD ‘69) was honored by the North Carolina Bar Association:

Allan B. Head, longtime executive director of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, has been honored posthumously as a recipient of the Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award. Chief Justice Mark Martin of the N.C. Supreme Court presented the award at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Wilmington, where he was joined by Justice Paul Newby, chair, and Lisa Sheppard, executive director, of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.

Patti Head accepted the award on behalf of her husband and their family. Head devoted 43 years of service to the NCBA/NCBF, including 35 years as executive director. He retired on Dec. 31, 2016, and died earlier this year following a courageous battle with cancer.

Graham Carner (JD ‘04) 

Graham Carner (JD ‘04) recently began his term as President of the Mississippi Association for Justice, a 600+ member organization is committed to strengthening the civil justice system so that deserving individuals can get justice and wrongdoers are held accountable. Graham is a solo practitioner in Jackson, Mississippi, and focuses his practice on criminal defense and representing individuals and small businesses in a variety of civil litigation matters. He is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel for representation of clients on Death Row in federal court habeas corpus proceedings. He is the appointed Public Defender for the Municipal Courts in Clinton and Byram. Graham also has a diverse civil practice in state and federal courts. Graham is a longtime member and officer in the Mississippi Association for Justice, which he currently serves as President-Elect. He is also an active member of the Mississippi Bar and Capital Area Bar Association.

While in law school, Graham served as a Notes & Comments Editor for the Law Review and was on the Moot Court Board. He also published a case note in the Wake Forest Law Review, Kelly v. South Carolina: The Symbolic and Substantive Implications of the Supreme Court’s Latest Word on Parole Ineligibility in Capital Cases, 38 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1327 (2003). After earning his law degree from Wake Forest in 2004, Graham returned to Mississippi to begin his legal career.