To the public, Jim Ferguson isn't as well known as his law partner, Julius Chambers, who is president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and one of America’s most prominent civil rights lawyers.
Ferguson is most often remembered, in fact, for two cases he lost--those of the Charlotte 3 and the Wilmington 10, a dozen blacks and one white who were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms during periods of racial unrest in North Carolina. (An appellate court eventually overturned the Wilmington 10 conviction.)
Though the public perception of Ferguson may be vague, his peers know him well: They consider him one of the top trial lawyers in the state.
Gastonia lawyer Jay Stroud, who prosecuted the Wilmington 10, calls him "one of the finest trial lawyers that I’ve ever seen in court."
Don Stephens, who is on the special prosecutions staff of the N.C. attorney general’s office, ranks him "definitely at the top" among North Carolina lawyers who take on controversial cases.