Member in the Spotlight

John Eastland

John Eastland

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is John Eastland of Tyler, Texas (east Texas). John has been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years, the last 13 years of which he exclusively represents citizens accused of DWI. John has a unique Texas heritage. His mother’s great, great grandfather was brother to Texas Founding Father Sam Houston. He can trace his Texas roots back five generations in Texas. John sees his clients as community. He said, “They all become my friends.” No doubt, the people of Tyler, Texas love him, as do we. 

John was drawn to the law because he saw his father, who owned Eastland’s Department Stores, fear financial ruin from attorney’s fees over litigation involving his stores. John vowed that would never happen to him. It also came natural to him as he grew up fighting whenever he saw a bully take advantage of a situation from elementary through high school. Courage is a prominent trait of John. His slogan is “Don’t get bit twice” with a picture of him holding a live rattlesnake on his website, johneastlandlaw.com.

John graduated from Harding University with a double major in Accounting and Marketing. While there, he was on the college swim team for four years which required workouts of swimming over six miles per day. In part, this contributed to his ‘never stop, never give up’ attitude. He spent several years working as an accountant before he went on to law school at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. Outside of his education, he has resided in Tyler, Texas. When asked if he has spent his entire life in Tyler, he proudly responds “Not yet!” 

In addition to the NCDD, he is a member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association, Smith County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (twice past president), Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (DWI Resource Committee and speaker on DWI issues) and the State Bar of Texas. He has received training on the NHTSA SFST(s) as both a practitioner and instructor, NHTSA DRE, the Intoxylizer, and gas chromatography (both Axion Labs and NCDD Serious Science). He has been named a Super Lawyer and two district judges have recently certified him to testify as an expert in DWI.


Tony Coleman

Tony Coleman

This NCDD member in the spotlight is Tony Coleman of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tony exemplifies the phrase "he could sell ice to an eskimo." Tony was working as a bellman at the Waterford Hotel when the then President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate spotted his charisma and offered him an internship. That turned into a full-time job as a senior staffer in the Oklahoma Senate for three Presidents Pro Tempores. During this time, Tony earned his degree from the University of Oklahoma and law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law. He had the entire Oklahoma Senate cheering him on to pass the bar. Politicking and learning the ins and outs of brokering deals was an education in and of itself which proved natural and greatly beneficial for his career as an attorney.

When asked what made him want to become a lawyer, he referenced his passion for solving problems and telling stories. Couple this with his uncanny memory in regurgitating facts verbatim, it was a natural fit. Tony describes his approach to law as a round of golf. "I have a goal in mind. I know where the hole is. Whether you are in a sand trap, out in the thickets or on a new course, you know that you may lose some balls, but you never, ever give up."

On the back of Tony's business cards, he has "Your Lawyer for Life." He strives to deliver the type of service in which his clients feel like family and can turn to him for anything. He gives everyone his cell phone number and answers every text, email and returns all calls despite a staff and very demanding practice. In addition to his stellar work and reputation, he has earned the trust and respect of many Oklahoma politicians which refer him their criminal case referrals keeping him extremely busy. In 2015, his Oklahoma peers voted him the state's highest legal honor, The Clarence Darrow Award (his acceptance speech https://youtu.be/WC2th8sMhiQ ).


John Powers

John Powers

The NCDD is proud to spotlight John Powers of Long Island, New York. John has been practicing criminal defense for 23 years, all in the New York City and Long Island, New York region. John was born in Manhattan to parents native of Queens, New York. His father was an executive in the tobacco industry and his mother was a stay-at-home mom until John went to college. John grew up attending all boys Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens. His high school basketball coach, Joseph Giannuzzi, mentored and shaped him in influential ways (see at 25:00 his remarks at Giannuzzi's retirement party (YouTube).

John's leadership in his community is highly prized. His evolution from hometown boy to local savior involves one of John's favorite stories. His favorite DWI jury win is a client that knew him well from his days as a bartender. The trust factor from being a favorite bartender to being the lawyer who won an acquittal for a friend is one he relishes. He describes the experience of knowing everyone involved, including the witnesses, as a challenge for all to see him in a different light. Once the verdict came back in only a few minutes time, his reputation as John The Criminal Defense Lawyer was sealed.

John majored in Political Science at Adelphi University. His mother had taken a job at the University to earn him free tuition. From there, he received his law degree from Touro Law Center. In addition to his membership in NCDD, he is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Suffolk County Bar Association, and serves on the executive board of the Suffolk County Criminal Defense Association. He was handpicked to work for Joseph Caramango, Esq. before he passed the bar exam. In five years, when Mr. Caramango moved, he took over the practice expanding it to what it is today with an emphasis on DWI defense. John's father made an everlasting impression on him when he was young that would spur him to become a lawyer.


Michelle Behan

Michelle Behan

This week's member in the spotlight is Michelle Behan of Tucson, Arizona. Shelley was destined to become an outstanding attorney in the footsteps of her father. Her earliest memory is running across the campus of Washburn University Law School in Topeka, Kansas, her father's alma mater. She also remembers living in Washington, DC while her dad studied at Georgetown Law School and worked for the Department of Justice. Growing up in the law, she was a debater and an orator in high school, and captain of the mock trial team. Before going to law school, she was an FBI agent. She remarks that going to court and working with the US Attorneys was her favorite part of the job. The courtroom for her is like water to a fish. "That's where I feed my soul," she said. Once she became an attorney, she knew she wanted to be a defense lawyer, no question about it. As she put it, "They always looked like they were having so much more fun than the prosecutors."

It's pretty tough to have a more patriotic resume than Shelley. Not only has she served the country in law enforcement before defending the Constitution as a defense lawyer, she also enlisted in the Navy from 1994 – 2003. She served close to ten years as a Cryptologist. Her time at the FBI earned her national recognition from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). She also received recognition from the United States Attorney's Office for the District of South Dakota for her work on many interstate crimes involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

While in law school, Shelley was part of a group of students who served as the impetus behind the creation of the Tucson City Court Veteran's Diversion Treatment Court. Along with her fellow veteran students, Shelley served as defense counsel (under the supervision of a professor) for veterans charged with diversion eligible offenses. That treatment court has grown with its multi-million-dollar grant and receives national recognition as a "textbook" treatment court.


Kevin P. McKernan

Kevin P. McKernan

This week's National College of DUI Defense's Member in the Spotlight is Kevin P. McKernan of Staten Island, New York. Kevin is a born and bred New Yorker. He has lived there his entire life minus his college days at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Born to an insurance executive and homemaker, Kevin is very grateful for his parents, as well as mentor William Murphy, former Staten Island District Attorney. Prior to the law, Kevin held a wide variety of jobs, which he credits for helping with successful voir dire. These include store clerk, cashier, bartender, and camp counselor.

Kevin has been practicing law for over 42 years. Kevin’s practice is in Staten Island, New York. He started his legal career as a prosecutor. He rose to the level of Bureau Chief of Investigation and Senior Trial Attorney at Staten Island’s Office of the Richmond County District Attorney’s office. The movie To Kill a Mockingbird inspired him to pursue law.

Kevin is a member of the New York and New Jersey State Bars and local Bar associations. He serves as the Vice President of the New Jersey Municipal Court State Bar Association. Kevin graduated from Notre Dame and earned his law degree from Fordham University School of Law. He is a member of both of these Alumni Associations, in addition to the Kiwanis Club, the Warren Jacques Committee, Chamber of Commerce and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Kevin also sponsors several Bread of Life food drives, Kiwanis charities, Ancient Order of Hibernians charities, many road races, in addition to regularly funding financially needy children to summer camp. His hard work and selfless contributions have culminated in several awards, including the Hubert H. Humphrey Community Award, Fordham Law School’s Alumni Sullivan Murphy Award for the Distinguished Practitioner of Law (“For Total Commitment to Justice and Peace For All), and the University of Notre Dame’s O'Regan Award.


Chuck Strain

Chuck Strain

This week's member in the spotlight is Chuck Strain of Cincinnati, Ohio. He's heartbroken to have missed our Summer Session in person this month (he did attend online), which would have been his 20th year in a row. Prior to all those NCDD Summer Sessions, he likes to joke that everything he learned about courtroom techniques came from the original broadcast run of Perry Mason on CBS from 1957 to 1966. Other early TV inspirations were The Defenders on CBS from 1961 to 1965, and Judd for the Defense on ABC from 1967 to 1969. “Argumentative!” ruled some of his early schoolteachers, inciting him to go into law.

Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Chuck attended public schools, played baseball, and played French horn. His father was an accountant, but Chuck inherited absolutely no accounting genes. His mother groomed poodles and his two younger brothers went into business and music. He took his first job at age 16 as a soda jerk in a traditional drug store. Other school jobs included landscaping, selling dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting, delivering the U.S. Mail (his favorite actual job, ever!), and proof-reading a professor's articles. At DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, he majored in philosophy and religion, studied in Vienna and Budapest, was president of his Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and earned a B.A. with high honors in 1975.

After three years serving as a Social Security Administration claims representative in Cincinnati, Chuck moved to Columbus to attend law school. There, he was a judicial intern for a federal judge, a hearing officer in the Columbus City Attorney's Office, and a legal intern with the Ohio Attorney General. He graduated in the top third of his class at The Ohio State University College of Law in 1981. After a backpack trip to Europe while awaiting bar exam results, he turned down an offer from the Ohio Attorney General and returned to Cincinnati to immediately open a solo practice focused on DUI defense. (Yes, right out of law school.) Since then, he's never given himself a promotion.

Chuck has taught at lawyer seminars across Ohio—94 times since 1999—on traffic law, ethics, professionalism, and substance abuse. He conceived and single-handedly taught the Cincinnati Bar Association's DUI Academy, a three-session comprehensive course.

Chuck regularly advises other lawyers on traffic law and ethics on the listserv forum of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He proudly coaches new lawyers through the Ohio Supreme Court's mentoring program. He has appeared on radio, on TV, and in print media discussing DUI law.


George V. Laughrun, II

George V. Laughrun, II

This week’s National College of DUI Defense's Member in the Spotlight is George V. Laughrun, II, of Charlotte, North Carolina. George has been practicing law for over almost 40 years and “still loves coming to work”. George’s reputation in North Carolina is well earned and long lasting. George is board certified in federal criminal law and state criminal law in North Carolina. He has maintained an “AV” Preeminent rating from members of the Bar and Judiciary for more than 30 years. The Charlotte Magazine named him one of Charlotte’s “toughest lawyers”. The Charlotte Observer wrote that in 2004-2005, no other lawyer obtained more DWI acquittals and dismissals. He has been a member of “Super Lawyers” for the past eight years and the “Legal Elite” (Business North Carolina) for the past ten years.

George is a member of the North Carolina Bar, American Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, North Carolina Advocates of Justice, associate member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers as well as the National College of DUI Defense. George was asked to serve on the Mecklenburg County Bar Executive Committee from 1994-1997.

George was born in eastern Tennessee, but at the age of five moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he has made it his home. His father was a high school guidance counselor and his mother was a pharmacy tech. His parents worked two jobs to put him through law school. His dad, his biggest influence and who taught him the value of hard work “was more proud of me being a lawyer than I ever was.” George graduated cum laude from both Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a prosecutor for two years in Mecklenburg County before joining the law firm he still practices in today.

George’s favorite aspect about being a trial lawyer is the fight. As he puts it, “a trial is a ‘war’ and I like to be in the middle of that war.” One of his most memorable victories was when his client, a Charlotte Hornet All Star basketball player charged with a DWI involving a serious automobile accident, flew on a private jet after the first day of trial to compete in a NBA game of which he scored a career high, to return the second day of trial to be acquitted. Another favorite Not Guilty for George was a three week jury trial for a University of North Carolina Charlotte football player charged with rape that made national headlines, heavily covered by the press. He tried that case with his daughter as co counsel.

George is the poster boy of solid values, chiefly: stability, hard work, and loyalty. George describes growing up like the “Waltons.” He describes it as lower middle class, but not wanting for anything. He worked his way through college as a store clerk at Food Lion and flipping burgers at Burger King. George met his wife on his first date at age 15. They have been together ever since, married for over 30 years. They have a son and daughter who both practice law. George’s son practices with him. His daughter practices family law with a large firm in downtown Charlotte. George speaks of the partner of his law firm with gratitude, “I was fortunate to work with the first named partner in my law firm, Arthur Goodman, who passed away in 2003. He took a chance on me and I have been with the same firm since 1982.”


L. Scott Pejic

L. Scott Pejic

This week’s NCDD Member in the Spotlight is L. "Scott" Pejic of Michigan City, Indiana. There are “lawyers’ lawyers” and the lawyers whom politicians turn to. Both are highly respected and in a league of their own. L. Scott Pejic has been busy representing a LaPorte County councilman, as well as a Michigan City mayor’s stepson, on top of handling his normal caseload. Scott became a lawyer because it is in his nature to speak out when something is wrong. He jests that “maybe it was watching too much A-Team or Equalizer as a child.”

Scott was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Due to his father’s work, he lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Grosse Pointe, Michigan before settling down in Michigan City, Indiana. Before law school, he did manual labor jobs including landscaping, roofing, and working a seafood deli. While in law school, he worked as a law clerk for the local Circuit Court judge and the local bank trust department.

Scott enjoys practicing other types of criminal law cases, in addition to his OWI (operating while intoxicated) practice. Scott’s favorite OWI case is both a felony and misdemeanor Not Guilty verdict for his client who accidentally hit a drunken man crossing the street. A witness in the trial testified that had Scott’s client not hit him, she would have. Of course, a very difficult scenario for all, but justice was obtained through Scott’s deft advocacy. Scott also relishes a self-defense murder Not Guilty where the accused was on an ankle monitor for another unrelated charge. As Scott puts it, “I appreciated this Not Guilty verdict because it validated the right to self-defense and that we as citizens are able to defend ourselves just like the police.”


Larry Forman

Larry Forman

This week’s NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Larry Forman of Louisville, Kentucky. He is featured because he is one of NCDD’s most enthusiastic young members. He has prioritized coming to NCDD seminars; not just for the training, but for networking. Anyone who has met Larry knows that he is a vivacious young man who is bursting with passion and boundless energy.

Larry was born in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg, Russia). His mother left the Soviet Union with him when he was three and a half years old. His mother is a Mechanical Engineer and his father is a horse trainer by trade. Both are currently on Larry’s payroll and work as paralegals in his firm. Before moving to Louisville, Larry lived in Cleveland, Ohio and Breckinridge, Kentucky. Before becoming a lawyer, Larry trained Thoroughbreds on the family farm for racing. While doing so, he served as the “on-premises” jockey. The thrill of “winning the race” runs deep in Larry’s blood.

Larry became a lawyer because, as he puts it, “I always helped my friends. When they would get in trouble I would help them because they always came to me since I would break down their issues to their constituent parts and analyze them ... I was like their godfather, if you will -- solving their problems. It was only natural that I would transfer this skill for the rest of my life solving people's real-life problems in the courtroom.”


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