Walter C. Holton, Jr. is a third-generation Winston-Salem lawyer.
Tradition, compassion, dedication and a commitment to excellence distinguish Walter’s law practice. After working as an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County and in private practice with White and Crumpler and on his own, Walter became the United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in 1994, appointed by President Clinton. For the next seven years he was the chief federal prosecutor in the district, comprising 24 counties from Orange to Yadkin with court divisional offices in Durham, Greensboro, Rockingham, Salisbury and Winston-Salem.
In addition to leading the federal government’s civil and criminal prosecutions in central North Carolina, Walter emerged as a national voice for innovative community safety programs. Testifying before the Judiciary Committees in both the U. S. Senate and House about curbing gun violence, he described a vigorous community effort that dramatically cut the number of homicides, robberies and assaults with firearms in High Point over a two-year period while also improving citizen relations with the police. Similar approaches to violence reduction were also adopted in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, and other cities.
Walter served as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee from 1999 to 2001, meeting monthly with Attorney General Janet Reno to evaluate and recommend policy for the U. S. Justice Department. He participated in an extensive forum of U. S. Attorneys to examine the federal death penalty. He helped author a Justice Department publication describing innovative, crime reduction strategies, and participated in educational forums explaining these approaches throughout the country, including the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Under his leadership, five communities in central North Carolina, including Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Durham, became the first communities in the district to receive extensive federal funding and official designation under the Justice Department Weed and Seed initiative.
Walter returned to private practice in 2001 as a member of the firm Grace, Holton, Tisdale & Clifton, P.A., where he focused on civil litigation and white-collar crime. Excited by the prospect of designing his own practice and expanding into new areas, he founded the firm that bears his name in 2006.
Walter is a member of the Forsyth County and North Carolina Bar Associations; American Inns of Court; National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys; and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is admitted to practice law before all North Carolina courts, the federal district courts in the Western, Middle and Eastern District of North Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Walter has received the Martindale-Hubbell AV rating from his peers, representing the highest level of professional excellence. He has been named by his peers among the Best Lawyers in America and the Best Attorneys in North Carolina.
Walter is deeply rooted in the city where he was born and raised. A 1973 graduate of R.J. Reynolds High School, Walter received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before returning to Winston-Salem and attending Wake Forest University School of Law. He received his J.D. in 1984 and, like his father, uncle and grandfather before him, began practicing in Winston-Salem.
In his seven years as United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, Walter championed innovative public-private partnerships to promote community safety. He was a driving force behind creation of the Center for Community Safety, a nationally recognized community resource that is part of Winston-Salem State University. Walter continues to serve as the Chairman of the Center’s Advisory Board.
Walter’s community activities extend beyond law and safety. Married with four children, he is a member of Home Moravian Church and for several years was tournament director of the annual Twin City Classic soccer tournament hosted by the Twin City Youth Soccer Association. In 2005 he received the Salvation Army’s Excellence in Leadership Award for his contributions to the Winston-Salem community. In 2001, Walter was honored by the City of High Point for his leadership in the successful strategies to reduce gun violence. He has received commendations for his work as U. S. Attorney from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies.