Nominee: Donald Marcari, Class of 1985
Marcari is the Senior Managing Partner at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban. Marcari has been fighting for seriously injured people throughout North Carolina since 1985, and Virginia since 1988, concentrating on plaintiff personal injury law and civil litigation. In addition, he handles veteran benefits claims and continues to defend select members of our military service in courts martial and administrative proceedings.
Marcari’s honors and awards include Best Attorneys of America, Virginia Super Lawyer, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leader in Law, North Carolina Advocates for Justice Order of Service Award, and the Navy Achievement Award. Marcari is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Virginia Bar Association, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.
Marcari received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Master of Arts in Public Administration from Appalachian State University. He received a Juris Doctor from Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.
Q: You have tried more than 200 jury trials. What is your favorite part about taking a case to trial? How did Campbell Law School prepare you for your career as a trial lawyer?
A: Preparing the case. The excitement of the courtroom. Seeing our Justice system in action. Campbell Law uniquely prepared me to be a trial lawyer from the first year of classes. We were on our feet every day answering tough questions from the professors. The trial advocacy programs were the best and taught us how to prepare a case from voir dire to closing arguments.
Q: Do you have certain skills that you have utilized throughout all your positions?
A: Hard work. Dedication. Integrity. Empathy. Treating everyone with respect.
Q: You gained national attention when your exploits as a young defense attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps became the basis for the motion picture, “A Few Good Men.” Tell us more about that.
A: After graduating from Campbell Law, I entered the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps because they promised to put me in the courtroom right away. My first trial I represented a Marine based in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who was charged, along with a few other platoon members, with attempted murder following a botched “Code Red,” a Marine tradition of disciplining your own. My client made a confession, and I was just supposed to get the best plea deal I could. When I arrived in Cuba my client told me he was just following orders from his chain of command which is a defense in the military. We decided to go to court. My client was found guilty of simple assault and was allowed to remain in the Marines.
One of the other lawyers representing another platoon member entered into a plea agreement with the government. Her brother, Aaron Sorkin, an unknown playwright, was given the record of trial. He produced a play and later the movie, “A Few Good Men.”
Q: Share a memory or experience that has had a lasting impact on your career.
A: Every client I’ve represented has made me a better lawyer. From that first case in Cuba, I’ve learned that oftentimes you are the only person your client has in their corner and, even against overwhelming odds, you have to do everything professionally and ethically to advocate for them.
Q: What does Campbell University’s motto “leading with purpose” mean to you?
A: I graduated from Campbell law in 1985, over 35 years ago. I get up every day excited about practicing law. I try to never forget that the client has come to me in a time of need. I believe ‘leading with purpose’ means, to the best of your ability, you have to do the right thing every day in everything you do. That you need to be an example to others in the community, whether it is practicing law, getting involved in community activities, your church, school programs, neighborhood rec leagues, etc. Every day should have meaning and purpose.
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If you would like to nominate a fellow alumnus/na who is living the university’s motto “leading with purpose,” please contact Lisa Snedeker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.