Member in the Spotlight

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.”


Jerald Novak

Jerald Novak

The National College of DUI Defense's Member in the Spotlight this week is Jerald Novak of Chicago., IL. As Jerry describes it, he was born to parents that had little formal education, couldn't rub two nickels together, never owned a house and success was measured by moving up from a Chevy to a Pontiac! Jerry has lived his entire life in Chicago and many of its suburbs. He became a lawyer because he saw many people wrongfully arrested and much corruption in the police department.

Jerry has had all kinds of jobs. His first real business was a Singing Telegram Agency. He has delivered newspapers, jack hammered concrete, painted industrial buildings, sanded dry wall seams, worked in a curtain and drapery factory, detailed cars, sold cars and decorated party rooms with balloons and balloon drops. Jerry said owning a car detailing business helped him learn that the devil was in the details. This is where he developed a critical eye which he attributes to helping him become a great trial lawyer.

Jerry has been practicing law for 32 years. He is a member of the National College of DUI Defense, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Lake and DuPage County Bar Associations. Jerry is known for his magnanimous kindness. He once observed a rooky police officer get torn to shred on the stand. He asked that the officer meet him at his office and he trained him on some very important particulars. That police officer never forgot Jerry's kindness and his reputation for such is just an added bonus where he is known. Jerry recently shared his SFST expertise to public defenders at NCDD's most recent PD seminar in Chicago. Jerry is a solo practitioner, whose two long term assistants have been with him for a combined 24 years.


Steven Epstein

Steven Epstein

The National College of DUI Defense's Member in the Spotlight is Steven Epstein of New York City. As he describes it, "I was born and raised on the sidewalks of New York City. I think the most influential people in my life, besides my parents, were the multitude of different people I was surrounded by growing up and being exposed to- people of varying social and economic backgrounds." Steven is a true city New Yorker through and through. He has lived his entire life in New York and now gives back as one of the leading educators of lawyers within the New York State Bar and a top DWI attorney. Steven was torn growing up, deciding between a life on stage or one in the courtroom. Now he does both. His most recent stage performance was with The Minstrel Players in Northport, New York last month in the stage production of Twelve Angry Jurors.

Steven graduated from the State University of New York College at Oneonta with a degree in Speech Communications. He earned his law degree at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, NY where he currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor (since 1997) and also coaches mock trial teams. He is passionate about education. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY.

After graduating law school, he served as a public defender in New York for many years before opening his own private practice eight years ago. His commitment to public defense; however, is strong and ongoing. For the last 22 years he has run the DWI training program for the Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, training every one of their lawyers for the past 22 years. In addition, he also does the training programs for most of the New York City area public defender offices, as well as CLEs throughout New York State on the topic of DWI. In total, he has trained well over three thousand attorneys who have come through the ranks of the public defender's offices in New York City in the area of DWI defense.

Steven is also a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves as the chair for their CLE committee. In addition to serving on the faculty of the National College of DUI Defense, his other memberships include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Nassau County and New York Bar Associations. In 2019, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers named him as of their top 20 CLE lecturers. A further honor includes being chosen by the U.S. Dept. of Justice as a peer reviewer for National Institute of Justice grant applications. He has been named a New York metro area Super Lawyer every year since 2014.

Steven has led success in the courtrooms on his own, in addition to his tutoring and mentoring of many of his colleagues. With respect to large scale victories, he successfully challenged New York's discovery statute and obtained and enforced an order directing the State to turn over to every defendant in New York State the full records of gas chromatography that relate to the certification of the simulator solution used for every person charged with a DWI who submitted to a breath test. This ruling subsequently resulted in a change to New York's legislation. The resulting new discovery statute now entitles every defendant to the full records of gas chromatography that relate to the certification of the simulator solution. But the wins he is most proud of are the wins at suppression hearings, where he successfully challenges the overreaching actions of the police, and in doing so brings to life the Bill of Rights for society.


Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols

This week's NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Mike Nichols of East Lansing, Michigan. Mike was raised in northern Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State University, working his way through college as a broadcast journalist. He earned his law degree from Western Michigan University's Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

When he worked as a broadcast journalist, Mike had the privilege of covering trials, presidential debates (Clinton/Perot/Bush), presidential speeches, governors and the legislature. It was through this work that he decided he wanted to be in the arena, not covering it. He chose to become a lawyer so he could fight for a cause.

In addition to defending his clients at the highest level, he is also a professor of the DWI course at his alma mater, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is the author of the Michigan OWI Handbook for West Publishing. He also serves on the Controlled Substance Bench Book Committee for the Michigan Supreme Court State Court's Administrator's Office, which publishes reference materials for judges.


Joseph Hoelscher

Joseph Hoelscher

The NCDD's Member in the Spotlight is Joseph Hoelscher of San Antonio, Texas, where he was born and raised. He received his undergraduate and two masters degrees from St. Mary's University. He then earned his law degree from Baylor Law School. Joseph has been practicing law for over 12 years.

Joseph was born at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. His dad was an engineer and real estate developer.  His mom was a fashion designer. When Joseph was very young, his mother went missing while on a business trip. Over the next three decades his family was subject to investigations. His dad, for the mere fact that he was the spouse, was the main target of these investigations. Traumatized from this experience which included overzealous law enforcement, he drew inspiration from his dad's defense attorney Don Saunders and became one.

Joseph mentors for the San Antonio Bar Association Mentorship Program. He is Co-Chair of the Retention Committee for the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as well as the NCDD. His firm sponsors the San Antonio Aids Foundation, Trinity University's KRTU Jazz Radio and various other arts and cultural charities. He sits on the Board of the Starlite Autism Center and volunteers at St. Pius X Catholic Church in San Antonio. In 2001, he coached his Lincoln-Douglas Debate team at the Texas Military Institute to the championship at the state finals. He, himself won the International Public Debate Association's National Championship in 1998.


Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy

The NCDD member in the spotlight is Shawn Dominy of Columbus, Ohio. He has been practicing law for 21 years.  Shawn is one of six children, the only one to graduate from college. His mother and father were truck drivers.  Shawn grew up being a lifeguard and playing drums in a rock band (the lead singer, Gary Levox, for Rascal Flatts tried out for his band).  Shawn was inspired to enter the law profession because of exposure to his band mate's father, who was the county prosecuting attorney. The band practiced at his house and he did an internship for him. Shawn is a deep roots person. He has spent his entire life in the central Ohio area. He graduated from The Ohio State University and its law school.

Shawn is the President-elect of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). He co-chairs the OACDL annual DUI seminar. He previously chaired OACDL's Publications Committee.  In addition, he is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, state and local bar associations, the local chamber of commerce and the Better Business Bureau. He has been on the Super Lawyers DUI list for many years, and named by Super Lawyers as one of the Top 50 lawyers in Columbus and a Top Lawyer by Columbus CEO Magazine. He maintains an AV-Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell.

Early on, Shawn has been mentored by the best. In his last year as an undergrad at Ohio State, he took a Criminology class from Dr. Joseph Scott.  Dr. Scott retired from O.S.U. and opened a criminal defense practice hiring Shawn as his law clerk. He worked for him throughout law school and partnered with him once he became licensed.  He went on to open his own practice paving the field for others in Ohio.  Shawn was a part of the landmark case, State v. Lancaster, that killed the Intoxilyzer 8000. Shawn cross examined CMI's head engineer and Ohio's head of Alcohol and Drug Testing, in addition to laying a foundation to expose the machines' problems by directing defense expert Dr. Al Staubus.


Roger Foley

Roger Foley

Our NCDD Member in the spotlight is Roger Foley of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Roger played football for the University of Alabama. He graduated with a degree in Criminology and a minor in Chemistry (finishing them at the University of Alabama at Birmingham). He has been a member of numerous professional organizations: the Palm Beach County Bar Association, the Dade County Bar Association, the Broward County Bar Association, the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National College of DUI Defense, and NORML.

Roger's story is truly inspiring and can be read here: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/fighting_for_a_second_chance/ . Roger grew up in Central Islip, New York. The bottom line is that he had a traumatic childhood and was taken in and adopted by his neighbor, Arthur Foley. He became a boxer advancing to national tournaments, including the Super Heavy Weight Golden Gloves of Florida. He was elected to the U.S. Boxing team, but chose law school instead. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Law.

Roger is a very humble man. Roger is not one to brag, but one of his heroic acts came to light at this past NCDD summer session. In 2011, Roger was in court taking care of one of his cases when he saw something that just did not sit right with him. He was waiting to have his Motion to Suppress, when he saw a sentencing of a young man to 3 years of prison for burglary. He asked the Judge if he could intervene. It turns out that the young man was mentally ill, had just been released from a mental hospital and was homeless while looking for his brother. Roger had a doctor examine him, went to the address of the building and discovered that it was abandoned with squatters. There was no victim. Due to his efforts, the young man received the mental health treatment he needed and did not end up in prison. Roger has a huge heart and takes the life lessons he learned growing up in a poor, gang and drug infested neighborhood to truly making the world a better place. Roger comments, "It's not just a job to me. I get involved in my clients' lives-… it's just who I am." Roger's faith is very important to him. He reminds his clients "that if God is present, then there is hope."


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