Forty Years Before the Bench


It was 40 years ago today that I was sworn in as an attorney in the State of California.  After I spent nearly 10 years as a Deputy District Attorney in Orange County, we moved to Marin County in 1985 and I have been in private practice ever since.  I have served primarily as criminal defense counsel, while also working on some plaintiff’s personal injury litigation and for several business law clients.

Since 2008, I have been senior trial counsel for Summit Defense, a Bay Area criminal defense law firm.

Summit Defense Law Offices plaque

During that time, I have represented clients in the state courts of 22 different California counties, from as far north as Butte and as far south as San Diego.

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I have also represented clients in four different federal district courts, including the Southern District of New York in Manhattan (the case there was an insider trading prosecution in which the charges against my client were recently dismissed).

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My Summit defense clients have included men & women from 21 different countries:  Afghanistan, Argentina, China, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, India, Iran, Ireland, Laos (Hmong), Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vietnam.

In the past 7 years, I have completed 16 major felony trials, ranging from fraud to child molestation to murder. These trials took place in 9 different counties and one federal court (Eastern District of California, Sacramento).

The federal trial was a mortgage fraud case earlier this year before the court’s presiding judge, the Honorable Garland E. Burrell, Jr.  My client and the co-defendant were both found not guilty … the first time in Judge Burrell’s 23 years on the bench that there had been an acquittal in his court.  Summit gave me a plaque commemorating the win:

Summit Loudermilk Placque

In one of my child molestation cases in Santa Clara county in 2011, my client was acquitted of several charges and the jury hung on the others. Ultimately, the DA dismissed the remaining counts and the client was released from custody. After the evidence and arguments were concluded and the jury sent out to deliberate, the judge made some very kind comments about my trial performance.

Summit Villasenor Court's Post-Trial Comments

I previously blogged here about “Why You Should Never Talk to the Cops”:

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/why-you-should-never-talk-to-the-cops/

This blog included a link to a KRON-TV interview that I did on the subject, as well:

Summit Defense KRON-TV Interviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqY2smL1oJo

Also in 2011, I was featured in a special edition of Newsweek magazine:

Summit Defense Newsweek Ad JTR Preview 111121

The Summit Defense webpage is here:

http://www.summitdefense.com/choosing_a_criminal_defense_lawyer

And my Summit Defense Attorney profile is here:

http://www.summitdefense.com/james_reilly

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FLA 74

A Day in the Life of an Itinerant Criminal Defense Lawyer


In my current practice of law, working with the Bay Area criminal defense firm Summit Defense, I handle primarily serious felony cases that are likely to have to go to trial.

As a result, I have had Summit cases in 22 different counties (as far north as Butte County and as far south as San Diego) and in four different federal courts, including the Southern District of New York.

Yesterday was a classic example of what this sometimes means, as I had court appearances in San Jose and Auburn … and had to pick up juror questionnaires in Stockton.

Map 150805

I set off on my peripatetic adventures for the day by leaving home at 7:00 am for a 9:30 am appearance in the US District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division. I hit heavy traffic on 101 in Marin and stretches of 880 in Oakland and Hayward … as a result of which, the trip took 2:20 and I barely made it to court on time.  After waiting for some time for the case to be called, it took about 20 minutes to finish our appearance.

Once done there, I left at 10:30 for Stockton, where I am in trial in the San Joaquin County Superior Court, to pick up juror questionnaires for review prior to resuming trial next week. That trip took 1:40, which got me there after everything had shut down for the lunch hour. Fortunately, a friendly bailiff was willing to track down the clerk supervisor who had my forms and I was back on the road at 12:30.

This leg of the trip took me to a 1:30 pm appearance in the Placer County Superior Court branch in Auburn for a trial confirmation conference. The trip took 1:35, so I was late, arriving at 2:05. Fortunately (again), I have co-counsel on this case, who was able to appear at 1:30 to let the court know I’d be late … and the court was extremely busy and didn’t care anyway.

In fact, the case didn’t even get called until after the mid-afternoon recess at 3:00 pm and took less than 10 minutes once it was called.

After some post-appearance conversations with the client’s family and my co-counsel, it was back on the road to head home, a trip which took 2:15.

So, for the day, I drove roughly 360 miles and spent 7:50 on the road, all to pick up my questionnaires and make two court appearances which took a combined total of less than 30 minutes.

On the other hand, I did get to listen to more than half of my current audio book!