Local News

Wake DA Colon Willoughby leaving office for private practice

Posted March 20, 2014

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colon Willoughby

— Longtime Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday he is leaving his post at the end of March for a private law firm.

Willoughby, who said in January he would not seek re-election this year, will be going to work for McGuireWoods LLP, a full-service firm with more than 900 lawyers in 19 offices across the United States, including Raleigh and Wilmington.

Willoughby will join the firm's Raleigh office as a partner on May 1, and he will handle cases involving government regulatory and criminal investigations.

"McGuireWoods has the ability to provide high-quality legal services in a professional environment," Willoughby said in a news release issued by the firm. "In today’s world, government regulation presents significant challenges to modern businesses, and the need for careful guidance and experienced counsel is more important than ever. I look forward to being part of a team that provides that assistance."

Willoughby, 63, has shepherded high-profile murder cases and prosecuted corruption within state government and the court system during his tenure of nearly 30 years – one of the longest in the state.

Over the years, Willoughby, a Democrat, earned respect as someone who could put politics aside to handle prosecutions of high-profile figures within his own party.

"In my view, you won't find a more respected or popular prosecutor anywhere in the country," McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen said in a statement. "This is a big boost for us and our clients having someone who knows as much as he does about the regulatory climate we face today."

Willoughby was first appointed acting district attorney in 1983 and was elected to the position in 1986, according to the website for the state's 10th Prosecutorial District.

An acting district attorney will be appointed by the governor to carry out the remainder of his term, which expires Jan. 1, 2015.

Six people are seeking election to Willoughby's seat, including three assistant district attorneys – Jeff Cruden, Jefferson G. Griffin and Boz Zellinger – and Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Lorrin Freeman. Attorneys Terry A. Swaim and John Walter Bryant are also candidates.


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  • less_govt_is_better_govt Mar 21, 2014

    Fleeing like rats from a sinking ship

    He should have a federal investigation into has bind eye turning to the rogue LEOs in wake county but that might lead back to his own shady office.

  • Tim Blanchard Mar 20, 2014

    Sorry, It is Deaver that should in jail along with Colon for what they did to Greg Taylor. They pushed and sent an innocent man to jail and then fought to undo the mistake by not wanting to even test the stain and fighting against the innocence commission. Greg paid for Colons mistake with 17 years and the taxpayers are paying with 4.6Million dollars. The Brad Cooper trial was a mess. They had nothing on the dude except some google search but the laptop was altered in police hands and the phone was erased by Cary PD.

  • Tim Blanchard Mar 20, 2014

    He is clearly not any man of honor or professionalism after the taxpayers have suffered thru Brad Cooper and Greg Taylor debacles. If he was so great, then why are taxpayers paying for his mistakes with Greg Taylor?! Let Colon pay and serve 20 years in jail along with SBI lab tech Decker.

  • Obamacare rises again Mar 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    rofl!! And here they come......

  • harleygrrlnc Mar 20, 2014

    Most honest man I know. If I was at the courthouse I always ran into him. When I got in trouble, He told me he couldn't do me no favors ( I never ask him for a favor). I'm proud to been neighbors for many years. Good luck Colon!

  • Todd Jenkins Mar 20, 2014

    After several high costs trials that should have never gone to trial…i think change is good here. the taxpayers will win on this one.

  • Moist Mar 20, 2014

    Dont have any respect for this liar after the Brad Cooper railroad job

  • aqualung Mar 20, 2014

    Colon Willoughby brought honor and respectability to an office that had been greatly tarnished by less-than-honest folks. He kept the DA's office honest and open for over 30 years, which no one else in my memory had been able to do. If he runs for AG, I will surely vote for him! Having known him since 1979, I can say that his character is stellar and steady.

  • curiousgeorgia Mar 20, 2014

    A real gentleman and person of honor. You will be missed!!

  • cringercat1862 Mar 20, 2014

    He will run for AG. This is just the start of consolidating his power base. i will not vote for him.