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Sonya Pfeiffer

Counsel

Contact

T: 416.306.2965  | 
F: 416-362-8410  | 

Bar Admission

North Carolina, Massachusetts, and District of Columbia 2007

Areas of Expertise

Criminal Law

High Stakes/High Conflict Civil Litigation

Sonya Pfeiffer is a skilled communicator who vigorously represents her clients at all stages of litigation.  She successfully advises clients in complex, high conflict matters and specializes in handling well publicized cases that often draw media attention.

Pfeiffer has practiced law in the United States since 2007 and has been involved in a wide variety of cases.  She began her career as a public defender, then transitioned to a large corporate law firm where she handled white collar criminal matters, civil litigation and pro bono death penalty work.  For the past decade, Pfeiffer has worked at boutique law firm Rudolf Widenhouse, trying both high-profile and routine cases, taking on high stakes civil litigation matters as well as complex criminal and civil rights cases.

In addition to her legal experience, Pfeiffer is an award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker.  She spent more than a decade as a television news reporter in the United States and in Europe before earning her law degree, with a focus on investigative reporting.  She covered major international stories while based in Paris, France, including the Yitzhak Rabin assassination in Tel Aviv and the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris.  As a result of this experience, Pfeiffer has a unique ability to tell each client’s story in a compelling and persuasive manner.

She and her husband, David Rudolf, co-host Abuse of Power, a Webby Award winning podcast that spotlights injustices in the criminal legal system.  She is also the owner of Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, a North Carolina based gallery with a focus on content-driven contemporary art.  In addition to strategic planning at the gallery, Pfeiffer puts her legal skills to work for a number of arts-related organizations, advising artists and providing creative counseling.  She also regularly moderates panels and roundtables related to law, art, and current events.

Pfeiffer is a board member of US-based National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and US-based North Carolina Advocates for Justice. She is a member of the American Bar Association and serves on several Bar committees at the local and state level in North Carolina.  She is also a member of the Bar in Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts, and is licensed to practice in all federal districts in North Carolina and before the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Education

Ohio University
Bachelor of Science in Journalism; Summa Cum Laude
1995

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law
JD With Honors
2007

Racial Equity in Jury Selection
North Carolina Advocates for Justice Trial Briefs, Spring 2021

Life After Wrongful Incarceration
Resources, Rules and Moral Responsibility: The Role of the Attorney Post-Release
NACDL’s The Champion Magazine, December 2020

The Intersection of Civil and Criminal Law in the #MeToo Movement
Trial Briefs, January 2019

Chapter Editor, "Competency to Stand Trial"
Klinkosum on Criminal Defense Motions 4th Edition, 2018
 

Contributing writer, Mecklenburg Bar Newsletter
2014 - 2017

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Social Justice
Documentary Production, 2007

Police Misconduct, Wrongful Prosecutions and Innocence Claims:
What Criminal Defense practitioners can learn from Civil Rights cases: how to litigate cases that involve police brutality, investigatory overreach and cognitive biases, January 2021

OnAirFest: Abuse of Power
New York, NY 2020

Race in the Courtroom:
How to Confront Peremptory Strikes that Appear to be Based on Race North Carolina Advocates for Justice Virtual, August 2020

Moderator, “Get to Know the Show with Tim Robbins & The Actors’ Gang: The New Colossus
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, January 2020

OnAir Fest
New York, NY 2020

Moderator, “A Conversation on Educational Inequality” panel discussion
Mecklenburg Bar Foundation Annual McMillan Dinner, February 2019

Moderator, “The Staircase Post-mortem: Lessons Learned from a Hard Fought Case”
Hilton Ballroom, Charlotte, NC November 2018

Moderator, “Inside the Staircase”
McGlohon Theatre, Charlotte, NC October 2018

Moderator, “Documentary as both Art Form and Social Critique”
with Jean Xavier de l’Estrade, Allyson Luchak and David Rudolf, October 2018

Moderator, “Inside the Staircase: Lies, Fake Science, and the Owl Theory”
Boston, Massachusetts, July 2018

Moderator, “Inside the Staircase: Lies, Fake Science, and the Owl Theory”
Boston, Massachusetts, July 2018

Moderator, #ShapingCLT Panel discussion on the #MeToo Movement in the South
April 2018, Levine Museum of the New South

Moderator, The Role of the Artist in Times of Upheaval
Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art February 2018

Moderator, “Spotlight” panel discussion
Byron’s South End, Charlotte, NC March 2017

Mecklenburg County Public Defender Office
Jury Selection Essentials
Mecklenburg County Public Defender Office

Jury Selection 101
Mecklenburg County Public Defender Office

Curatorial Activism
Queens University, Arts and Advocacy Conference

Navigating the Interplay Between Civil Fault and Criminal Responsibility: Lessons Learned in the Acquittal in State v. Gay
North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Fall Conference Asheville, NC

The Defense Perspective in the Kenan Gay case
Justice Bobbitt Inn of Court, Charlotte, NC

Melendez-Diaz basics and update
Presenter, Justice Bobbitt Inn of Court, Charlotte, NC

Mecklenburg County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Challenging HGN
Presenter, Mecklenburg County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

OPEN MIKE WITH MIKE MORSE: HOW MODERN MEDIA INFLUENCE CRIMINAL TRIALS
January 23, 2021

THE DR. OZ SHOW: THE KRISTINE BUNCH STORY
January 28, 2021

HUMAN LAWYER PODCAST: YOU CAN’T SPELL STORYTELLER WITHOUT SONYA PFEIFFER
September 23rd, 2020

EXPERT CONVERSION: DAVID RUDOLF & SONYA PFEIFFER ON MY FAVORITE MURDER WITH KAREN KILGARIFF AND GEORGIA HARDSTARK
September 10th, 2020

DIE-ALOGUE: A TRUE CRIME CONVERSATION REBEKAH SEBASTIAN
September 9th, 2020

LET’S TALK ART WITH BROOKE | WILLIAM A. NOGUERA
June 19th, 2019

ON LIFE AND MEANING: SONYA PFEIFFER | A LIFE IN FULL
May 16th, 2019

STRAIGHT TALK WITH DEAN AND MARC: CONVERSATION ON DISABILITY, HISTORY, AND ACTIVISM
May, 2019

LET’S TALK ART WITH BROOKE | THE ART OF STRUGGLE
February 22nd, 2019

THE 1K PODCAST: REPRESENTING THE WRONGFULLY CONVICTED
February, 2019, 2019

LET’S TALK ART WITH BROOKE | TRANSPARENCY: ELDER GALLERY
January 19th, 2019

Largest Verdict or Settlement in North Carolina – 2017
North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly
JANUARY 20, 2018

$9.5 Million Settlement – Bridges v. City of Charlotte
North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly
JANUARY 01, 2018

Not Guilty Verdict in Murder Case – North Carolina v. Kenan Gay
JUNE 19, 2014
Good Morning America
Charlotte Observer

$9.325 Million Settlement for Wrongful Imprisonment – Brown v. Isley
AUGUST 13, 2013
Raleigh News & Observer

Defendants get Money Back from Government After Five Years
APRIL 30, 2012
North Carolina Lawyers Weekly