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Jim Thomas is an attorney with over 30 years of criminal defense experience. He has been recognized nationally, as well as in the Metro-Detroit area, as a “tough case lawyer”, handling the most difficult cases in the area successfully. (Detroit Free Press, December 17, 2007). Over the years, he has successfully defended dozens of high-profile cases including: the first post 9/11 Terrorism Trial in the United States, a physician in an alleged Mexican Cartel case,  a Detroit police officer in the highly controversial “Fourth Precinct Corruption Trial,” the acquittal of an Indian computer specialist in Federal Court, the representation of an Indiana Pacer swept up in the so-called “Malice at the Palace”, as well as a young member of a paramilitary group in the internationally publicized Hutaree Militia Sedition Trial. His most recent defenses have been of former mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and a former Inkster police officer William Melendez.  These were well publicized prosecutions which involved high-stakes skills in court, and with the public and media.  He has represented a broad range of clients including: physicians, health care professionals, political figures, and athletes in addition to those charged with mortgage and healthcare fraud.


Mr. Thomas has been recognized in various publications as one of the best criminal defense and white-collar criminal attorneys in the country. He has lectured internationally, nationally and locally on topics concerning the

representation of the accused and the protection of the Constitutional rights afforded to all persons in America. Mr. Thomas participated in the Department of Justice’s International “Rule of Law” initiatives in both Ukraine and Serbia, where he, along with federal judges and prosecutors, engaged in intense education and lobbying efforts with each country’s respective legislators, judges and prosecutors to change their laws to conform with those in the United States. As a result of these efforts, in March of 2009, the Serbian Criminal Code was amended adopting substantive and procedural laws consistent with recommendations that had been made by the initiative.  In the spring of 2012, the Ukranian Government adopted a new Criminal Procedure Code which was hoped to assist their government in protecting the rights of individuals, and to give them access to the courts with transparency in all proceedings.


Mr. Thomas has been an AV-I Rated Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell, that organization’s highest rating, since 1985, and has been consistently named in Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Best Lawyers of America, and Michigan Super Lawyers in white-collar and criminal defense.  Detroit Business Magazine has listed him in The Best Lawyers of Metropolitan Detroit for white-collar and criminal defense, and the American Trial Lawyers Association has designated him one of the top 100 Trial Lawyers in the State of Michigan.


Awards: In 2005 Mr. Thomas was awarded the coveted Justice for All award for his work in the Detroit Terrorist Trial by the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan. Additionally, in 2005, he was awarded the Defender of Justice Award by the National Lawyers Guild.  However, most importantly, in 2006, the Federal Bar Association awarded him their the most prestigious Gilman Award, recognizing him as the outstanding federal criminal practitioner in the Eastern District of Michigan for that year.  Finally, in 2008 he was honored as the Arab American Professional of the Year by the Arab American Chamber of Commerce for his representation of the accused in State and Federal matters.


Admissions: State Bar of Michigan; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan; Michigan Supreme Court; U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Circuits; as well as the United States Supreme Court in 1980.


Education: Wayne State University (B.S. Psychology, 1969); Michigan State University – Detroit College of Law (J.D., 1974).


Affiliations: Fellowship with the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers by invitation; Elected President of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers 2006; Board of Directors for both the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan; American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; Arab American Bar Association; Michigan Trial Lawyers Association; and Life Member of the National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers.


Lectures: On white-collar crime, healthcare law and trial practice in complex litigation on behalf of: the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy Law School, and Cooley Law Schools, frequent lecturer at CDAM Trial College and Advanced Litigation Seminars, and at York University, Osgoode Hall, in Toronto, Ontario.


In 2012, James C. Thomas joined the well-recognized Macomb County law firm of O’Reilly Rancilio, P.C. in an of counsel capacity, where his practice continues to specialize in litigation of complex criminal law and administrative law matters in both federal and state courts.

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