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Howard Cummings


Howard Cummings, Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal Defense, DWI & Traffic Matters, Drug Crimes, Domestic Violence Offenses, Criminal Law And Business Crimes Defense, Larceny & Property Crimes

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Beth Svendsgaard

Howard Cummings is a tenured criminal litigator who served as Deputy Assistant District Attorney for Wake County for nearly three decades. He brings a wealth of knowledge, resources, and insight to the criminal defense team at Tharrington Smith.

Licensed to practice in North Carolina in 1979, Howard was a private practice lawyer in Pitt for several years before moving to Raleigh and joining the DA’s office. During his tenure, he saw the DA’s office expand from 15 attorneys to several dozens. Through thousands of criminal matters, Howard has been known for fairness and compassion, which he displayed to victims and offenders alike. Upon his retirement from the District Attorney’s office in late 2018, Governor Roy Cooper bestowed to him fellowship in the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his service to the state.

Howard is the winner of the 2016 Gilchrist Award from the North Carolina Bar Association. The prosecutorial companion to the Wade Smith Justice Award, it is given annually to one lawyer since 2008. Howard has enjoyed fellowship in the American College of Trial Attorneys since 2017.

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Awards & Honors

Order of the Long Leaf Pine, 2018
American College of Trial Attorneys Fellow, 2017
Gilchrist Award, North Carolina Bar Association, 2016


Campbell College School of Law

  • Juris Doctor 1979
  • Inaugural Class

North Carolina State University

  • BS Civil Engineering, 1976


  • N. C. Conference of District Attorney’s – Presenter at annual conference CLE training on substantive topics, ethics and mental health.

Memberships & Admissions

  • North Carolina State Bar, 1980
  • Wake County Bar Association, 1989
  • 10th Judicial District Bar, 1989
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section Member
  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice
  • American Bar Association
  • American College of Trial Attorneys, Fellow, since 2017
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, 1986

Community Engagement

  • NCSU University Club Board of Directors
  • NCSU University Club Pool Committee
  • NCSU University Club Audit Committee
  • City of Greenville NC Board of Adjustments – Past Chairman

Professional Recognition

  • Order of the Long Leaf Pine, 2018
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Attorneys, 2017
  • Gilchrist Award, North Carolina Bar Association, 2016

Professional Dedication

  • Wake County Bar Association and Tenth Judicial Bar Board of Directors – 2 Terms
  • Justice Complex Design Team Leader

History & Experience

  • Wake County District Attorney’s Office, Raleigh, NC, 1989-2018
  • Private Practice, Pitt, County NC, 1983-1989
  • Pitt County District Attorney’s Office, 1980-1983