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David Rudolf

Criminal Defense Attorney Featured in Netflix’s 'The Staircase’

David Rudolf is one of the pre-eminent trial lawyers in the country, specializing in high-profile and complex criminal and civil rights cases. He has received worldwide acclaim for his representation of Michael Peterson in The Staircase on Netflix. David’s presentations highlight dramatic examples of his own adventures in the justice system, to inspire the next generation to fix what is broken and to “hold back the tide” as best they can. 

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA


Leadership: Fighting for Justice & Resisting Authority
Attorney David Rudolf sits down for an intriguing conversation surrounding fundamental flaws in the criminal justice system. A dynamic criminal defense lawyer at the center of the issues raised by recent true crime series The Staircase. The format offers a discussion on the need for leadership.

Career Development: Follow Your Passion
In this presentation, David Rudolf details what led him to pursue law as a career.  He explores some of the historical events that shaped his values and his life. While he’s taken on a variety of cases throughout his career, one thing has remained constant – David’s commitment to individuals who need our help against the power of the government.

Inside The Staircase: Lies, Fake Science, and the Owl Theory
Join David Rudolf, the defense attorney for Michael Peterson in the hit Netflix documentary series The Staircase, for an evening of discussion into the intimate details of the case and the series. David will discuss the conflicts he wrestled with in determining whether to let the filmmakers follow him, his client and his trial preparation, and his insights into the most curious and contentious issues in the case, including the blood spatter evidence, the bisexuality and Germany evidence, the discovery of the blow poke, and the genesis of the Owl Theory.

Platform Plus


Summary Profile

David Rudolf is passionate about defending the rights of individuals. His values were shaped profoundly by events during the time he was in college and law school – from the Kent State shootings to the Watergate indictments and the resignation of Richard Nixon to avoid impeachment. David Rudolf founded the law firm in 1982 and its mission remains the same decades later – Rudolf Widenhouse is committed to individuals in need of help against the power of the government.

Mr. Rudolf has been listed for more than twenty-five years in the Best Lawyers in America and was one of only three criminal defense lawyers recently selected for the inaugural class of the North Carolina Lawyer Hall of Fame. In recent years, in addition to his work defending individuals accused of crimes in federal and state courts, he has successfully represented individuals in civil rights litigation against law enforcement agencies arising from wrongful convictions.

Rudolf has taught Trial Advocacy at the UNC School of Law and for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and Criminal Litigation at Duke University School of Law.  He has also been recognized for his work with professional organizations, serving in various leadership positions in the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and Advocates for Justice. 

As a result of his work in The Staircase, Mr. Rudolf recently received the prestigious Praeses Elit Award from the Dublin Law Society at Trinity College in Ireland.  Previous recipients have included Former President FW de Klerk, who helped bring about a peaceful transition to the end of apartheid in South Africa, Sir Bob Geldorf, who organized the global food charity concert Live Aid.   In announcing the award, the Secretary of the Law Society noted that Mr. Rudolf‘s “appearance in ‘The Staircase’ captured the imaginations of millions of viewers across the world,” and that “your commitment to justice and the loyalty you demonstrated for your client is truly inspiring. . .  .  Your integrity has shone through every aspect of your career.”