Remarks from Peter Gilchrist, December 2010
Retirement Reception for Peter Gilchrist
Anne and I thank all of you for coming tonight.
When the Criminal Justice Section and the Bar offered to hold a reception for me, I immediately accepted the opportunity to have a chance to be with my professional colleagues and friends before my exit. Then when they said I could invite people outside the Bar it was an opportunity to include the rest of you friends who have helped and guided me through the years.
Mary Jordan Mullinax on the Bar staff has done a masterful job of making all tonight's arrangements. Anne & I can't thank her adequately.
At the Thanksgiving season I realize how much I have to be thankful for. I have had a job for 36 years that I believe was my calling and I've been smiled on by God all along the way.
This job and the fact that I might occupy an elected position was never a conscious thought for me until about a year before I was actually sworn in as District Attorney. For most of my life I expected to be a businessman. After law school I became a tax accountant. Then for 7 months a county recorders court solicitor. I left that to try the land development business. I returned to be an assistant district court prosecutor never thinking my career for the next 40+ years would be prosecution during which I would have to run for elected office 9 times.
Fortunately I had stumbled into my calling but it was some years before I recognized it.
I am grateful for so much.
How I ever got elected in the first place much less re-elected is suprising.
I confess, I remain a political novice. I have never attended a precinct meeting. I am a registered Democrat but was so naïve that when I first ran I had a law school classmate, Joe Warren, as my campaign manager. He was and still is a Republican. The race was a Democratic primary. He didn't know any more about politics than I did. Somehow with the help of family and a lot of friends some of whom are here tonight I was elected and re-elected.
People come to me occasionally for political advice. Not a good idea. I don't know any more now than I did then.
I am grateful for the advice people have given me. Many are here tonight who have given it to me unstintingly. Most of the time when I asked for it, but sometimes I didn't.
I am grateful for the people who have prayed for me. I have needed those prayers throughout these 36 years. Some of those people are here tonight.
I have also had people threaten me. I am not grateful for them, and I didn't invite any of those tonight. I hope none are here.
I am grateful for what I have learned. I have had the opportunity to try cases with and against some of the best lawyers. I have had the opportunity to try cases before some of the State's best judges and learned from them.
I am particularly grateful for the people who chose to work in the district attorneys office. I have seen year in and year out women and men committed to doing justice. Often under difficult situations, they have done this for years, and continue to do so today. They perform at a high level.
Their ethics and abilities have been amply demonstrated while in the office and after they left us. By last count I think I have 18 judges as alumni. A former State Bar President, elected and appointed officials, a minister, teachers and academicians plus numerous very successful lawyers who daily contribute to North Carolina and other states where they live.
I am grateful for what we have been able to accomplish.
We have had the opportunities to make the difference in the lives of victims and defendants and their families.
We have been able to accomplish things that have benefited the people of this city and county.
We started the State's first Deferred Prosecution Program and
The first Defensive Driving Program
We instituted specialized drug prosecution and
Focused DWI prosecution
We instituted Domestic Violence specialization
Child sex offender prosecutors
Adult sex offender prosecutors and
Special focus on Probation Violators
habitual offenders and active offenders
I am eternally grateful for Anne who has welcomed me home nights with good meals, who has listened, often patiently to the complaints of my day then told me to quit complaining this is the job you love to do and then each morning slaps me on the fanny and tells me to get back in the game.
I am thankful to be able to close out my tenure as District Attorney with many cherished memories and few regrets. I treasure friends here tonight.
I look forward to a future of new and different experiences and chasing Anne around the world.
Again, Thank you all for being here.