The MacDonalds are pleased and grateful to have the services
of such a strong and dedicated team of attorneys

Best Lawyers

Lead Counsel (2011-present)

We are fortunate to be navigating uncharted territory with Mr. Widenhouse of Rudolf, Widenhouse & Fialko (Chapel Hill, NC). His expertise in post-conviction relief efforts and criminal defense litigation has been recognized by his peers continuously. Mr. Widenhouse has been involved in over 500 appeals including the USSC. He handles the most complex appeals and post-conviction matters, as is currently representing more than 10 people on death row.

Mr. Widenhouse also has considerable experience and success litigating motions for appropriate relief, petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255- the code under which Jeff MacDonald’s current appeal will be evaluated. He also periodically teaches courses such as Appellate Advocacy, Capital Punishment, and Evidence at Duke University, the University of North Carolina, Wake Forest University, Campbell University, and North Carolina Central Schools of Law. He is an annual speaker at the Governor’s School of North Carolina.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Widenhouse served as a law clerk to the Honorable W. Earl Britt, United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, from 1981-1983. He then served as a law clerk to the Honorable James G. Exum, Jr., Supreme Court of North Carolina, from 1983-1984. These opportunities gave him a “behind the scenes” experience with how the courts operate and what influences judges in making judicial decisions.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Hart Miles graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received his law degree at Campbell University Law School. A native of Raleigh, his legal career began at the Wake County Courthouse, where he served as an Assistant District Attorney. In 1997, Mr. Miles went into solo practice as a criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh, where he has tried cases in both state and federal courts. He joined the defense in 2005 and continues to contribute considerable legal efforts toward achieving Jeff exoneration he neters the appeals process as co-counsel with attorney Joe Zeszotarski.

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Joe has defended clients in both federal and state cases. He regularly represents indigent persons in murder cases involving the death penalty across North Carolina. Joe’s expertise in the area of criminal defense is recognized by his “AV” rating by Martindale Hubbell, as well as his being selected by his peers for inclusion in “The Best Lawyers in America” since 2003, and as a “North Carolina Super Lawyer” since 2006. He was also ranked among Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite in 2008. Joe also represents clients on appeal, and has argued appeals in the federal courts of appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Supreme Court.

He is a member of the bar of all state and federal courts in North Carolina, and is admitted to the bar of the First, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal. Prior to joining the law firm of Poyner Spruill, Joe served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable William L. Osteen of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina from 1994 to 1995.

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Boston, Massachusetts

The firm of Good & Cormier (formerly Silverglate & Good) has handled the MacDonald case since 1989, when attorney Harvey Silverglate (now of counsel to Good & Cormier) took the case because of his belief in Jeff MacDonald’s innocence. Andy Good, Phil Cormier and Harvey Silverglate have been heavily involved in the appeals process and DNA issues of the case, and are committed to Jeff’s criminal defense as well as student rights, civil liberties, and constitutional litigation.

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Tim Junkin graduated from the University of Maryland with honors and from Georgetown University Law School in 1977. He began his legal career as a public defender. He served as counsel in several notable murder trials before becoming a national trial lawyer in private practice. He has taught at Georgetown, Harvard and American University, where he received the Adjunct Professor of the Year Award.

Tim is also the author of three books, the novels Good Counsel (2000) and The Waterman (1999), as well as Bloodsworth (2004).

After writing the story of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA tests, Tim became deeply involved in the issue of wrongful convictions. He felt compelled to take the MacDonald case in 2004, viewing it as “the most horrendous case of injustice” he had seen in all of his years of practice. He recently formed a non-profit dedicated to saving the health of the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore of MD, part of the Waterkeeper's Alliance.

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Wade Smith co-founded the law firm of Tharrington Smith in 1964. During the ensuing forty years-plus years, he has tried and defended dozens of federal and state cases in North Carolina and other states. Also during those years, Mr. Smith was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives twice, and served as President of the Wake County Bar Association, among other distinctions. In 1979, he served as co-counsel (with Bernard Segal), defending Jeff at trial. Losing this case, in which an innocent man went to prison, was a huge blow to Mr. Smith personally. He supported Jeff for 24 years as local counsel, and believes“this terrible wrong must be righted”. His illustrious and storied career was recognized once again in 2004 when his peers voted him North Carolina’s Number One Criminal Litigator for 2004 (Business North Carolina Magazine). He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since its inception.

Most recently, Mr. Smith has been noted for his work in the Duke-Lacrosse case, and the eventual disbarment of prosecutor Michael Nifong.