Jim has secured several dismissals of charges, and has negotiated numerous pleas which helped his clients avoid prison. Only 2% of criminal cases ever go to trial, and many times success depends on the negotiation of a fair result with the prosecution. Jim is always willing to go to trial, but insists on a civil relationship with the prosecution to ensure that the client gets the best plea offer possible before deciding whether to proceed to trial. That decision is absolutely the client’s decision, ethically mandated but also at Jim’s insistence that the client know the realities of the case as closely as possible.
Jim has achieved several successes as a criminal appellate attorney and as a trial practitioner.
- In State v. Pedro Lucio, a Texas death penalty case resolved in 2016, Jim succeeded in showing his client’s confession was obtained in violation of his 5th and 6th Amendment rights, and the confession was suppressed. As a result Jim negotiated a plea of 45 years instead of the death penalty.
- In State of Kentucky v. Michael St. Clair, in 2019 Jim and his co-counsel and defense team were awarded the prestigious Furman Award for winning a post-conviction agreement that resulted in a resentencing from the death penalty to time served. That client was returned to Oklahoma to serve other sentences there.
- In 2009 in Taylor v. Workman, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Oklahoma death sentence of Charles Taylor, resulting in a negotiated plea of life in prison without parole for Mr. Taylor. Jim represented Mr. Taylor at the state court level and again as his co-counsel at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- In Simmons v. Simpson, the appellate efforts of Jim and his co-counsel before the U.S. district Court of the Western District of Kentucky resulted in a pleas offer by the Attorney General of that state to change three death sentences to life without parole, an offer accepted by Mr. Simmons in April 2010. Such an offer was unprecedented and was largely due to demonstrable racial bias in jury selection which David Barron and Jim were on course to establish.
- In Hooks v. Workman, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 24, 2010 reversed the five death sentences of Danny Keith Hooks and remanded for new sentencing. As in most capital cases, Jim was associated as the co-counsel with another attorney. The primary grounds for reversal were based on issues Jim argued in the appellate brief.
- In four cases involving sex offender registration requirements under Oklahoma law, Jim as sole counsel successfully achieved removal of his clients from the sex offender registry. Each client’s conviction was over 20 years old, neither had ever re-offended, and both were required to register solely because they were convicted in states other than Oklahoma. The state district court declared this discrimination unconstitutional on every one of the four grounds Jim raised. The state Attorney General did not appeal in either case. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma will ultimately decide if Jim’s victories will stand, but several people are now rightly off the registry.