Commissioner: Michael A. Grace, Esq.
Mike Grace opened his own law practice in 1981 and has been engaged in private practice and criminal defense in Winston-Salem for more than 30 years. He has been admitted to practice in federal courts throughout the United States. Mike and the firm Grace, Tisdale & Clifton are one of two local firms who represent local law enforcement through the Police Benevolent Association. Mike has also earned a reputation as a top civil litigator. He won a multi-million dollar settlement in a lawsuit over the boating accident death of R.J. Reynolds executive T. Wayne Robertson. Mike was lead counsel in a “closed head” injury trial where a Forsyth County jury awarded nearly a million dollar verdict. He has tried and settled numerous cases totaling millions of dollars in awards to his clients. Mike is the only defense attorney to win a verdict of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in a capital criminal defense case during the 20th century (State vs. Michael Hayes, 1989). He has successfully tried multiple capital murder cases and has had multiple verdicts overturned in federal appeals court. In U.S. vs. Frank McClean, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Mr. McLean’s judgment of conviction and ordered the case be remanded to the District Court and that a judgment of acquittal be entered. More recently, Mike argued in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for Ernie Pitt (U.S. vs. Ernest Pitt), and the court vacated the conviction.
Mike received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1977 and his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1974. He has been admitted to practice in North Carolina since 1977. He is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, Middle, Eastern, and Western Districts of North Carolina; the U.S. Court of Appeals; and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He currently serves as an adjunct professor for the Wake Forest University School of Law. Prior to his work as a defense attorney, Mike worked as a staff attorney for Congressmen Lamar Grudger and Ike Andrews. By appointment of former President Jimmy Carter, Mike served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mike is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the Forsyth County Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina State Bar, the Forsyth County Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court. He currently serves on the UNC Asheville National Alumni Council. In 2009 he received the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award at UNC Asheville’s annual Distinguished Alumni Awards for his career as a lawyer in Winston-Salem, and he was inducted into the UNC Asheville Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2015 Mike was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to be a Commissioner on the Innocence Commission. He also currently serves on the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project Committee for the North Carolina Bar Association.