Serving Southeast Michigan For Over 30 Years.
James C. Thomas's Profile Image

James C. Thomas

Direct Dial: (586) 997-6450
Main Line: (586) 726-1000
Fax: (586) 726-1560

James C. Thomas is a prominent and well-respected criminal defense attorney who joined O'Reilly Rancilio P.C. in an Of Counsel capacity in 2012. During his more than 30 years of practicing criminal defense in complex federal and state matters, Jim has successfully defended clients in some of Michigan's highest profile criminal matters, including healthcare professionals, corporate executives, politicians, and professional athletes. He has tried a broad range of significant criminal cases in both federal and state courts, including complex white collar and non-white collar matters. He is well versed in the full range of issues that arise in criminal matters and lectures frequently to lawyers and law students throughout the country. He is experienced particularly in the areas of conspiracy, health care, RICO, forfeiture, and all criminal matters involving electronic communications.

Jim has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2006 prestigious "Gilman Award," presented by the Federal Bar Association to the outstanding federal practitioner in the area of criminal law, and the 2005 Arab­ American Chamber of Commerce "Professional of the Year" Award. For his work in the Detroit Terrorism Trial, in 2004 he received the "Defender of Justice Award" from the National Lawyers Guild and in 2003 the "Justice for All Award" from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.

Representative Work

  • Representation of elected and appointed officials in state, federal, and administrative matters.
  • Acquittal of a high ranking member of the Hutaree Militia in a highly publicized federal Sedition Trial in 2012.
  • Acquittal of a Mexican physician charged federally in a conspiracy involving "los Zetas" and the "Mexican Cartel."
  • Acquittal of a client in the first federal Terrorism Trial in the country.
  • Acquittal of a 4th precinct police officer in a four month Detroit Police Corruption trial.
  • Acquittal of a client in a noteworthy federal RICO prosecution involving the notorious "Young Boys, Inc."
  • Veteran trial attorney in more than two hundred jury trials throughout the country in both state and federal courts.

Bar Admissions

  • Michigan, 1974
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 1974
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1980
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit


  • Michigan State University, Detroit College of Law, East Lansing, Michigan
    J.D., 1974
  • Wayne State University
    B.S., 1969
    Psychology, Minor in Sociology/Anthropology


  • American Bar Association – Annual Criminal Law Symposium on Kilpatrick RICO Trial, 2014
  • Instructor, CDAM Conferences
  • Guest Lecturer, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, University of Detroit and Cooley Schools of Law
  • Ukraine, 2011 United States State Department Rule of Law Lecture Series urging the adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Code, Kiev, Ukraine
  • Criminal Forensics “Guns A Blazin’,” York University Law School, Osgood Hall, Toronto, Canada, 2013
  • Internet & Computer Law, "Sex, Lies and Text Messages," York University Law School, Osgood Hall, Toronto, Canada, 2009
  • "Serbian Adoption of Federal Laws in Sentencing," State Department Rule of Law Initiative, which resulted in their adoption of sentencing guidelines similar to the United States, Belgrade, Serbia, 2008
  • Lecturer, Nursing Home Seminar and Mock Trial, Troy Marriott Hotel, 2007
  • "Case Themes and Motion Practice," Advanced Criminal Practice, CDAM Fall Seminar, Traverse City, 2004
  • "Forfeiture Nuts and Bolts: Current Litigation for the Defense," Advanced Criminal Practice, CDAM Fall Seminar, Traverse City, 2001
  • "Handling the Narcotics Case," Criminal Advocacy Program (CAP), Wayne County Recorders Court Bar Association, 2001
  • "The Commerce Clause and Relevant Issues in Criminal Advocacy," Advanced Criminal Practice, CDAM Spring Seminar, Southfield, 2001
  • "Civil Forfeiture Reform Statute (CAFRA) or As It's Affectionately Known, the Hyde Amendment," Federal Bar Association, U.S. Courthouse Detroit, 2000
  • "Federal Forfeiture and Disgorgement of Attorneys Fees," Federal Bar Association, U.S. Courthouse Detroit, 1999
  • "Alteration of Patient Records," Current Criminal Issues for Health Care Risk Managers, Michigan Society of Healthcare and Risk Management, 1996
  • "Forfeitures; Fascist or Fair," Michigan State Bar Annual Meeting, Criminal Law Section Symposium, 1996

Honors and Awards

  • Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating, AV-I; The Best Lawyers in America for Criminal Defense in White Collar Crime and Non-White Collar Crime
  • Leonard Gilman Award in 2007, from the Federal Bar Association for "Outstanding Practitioner of Criminal Law" in the Eastern District of Michigan
  • American Trial Lawyers Association, Top 100 Lawyers Award since 2006
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, listed in Criminal Defense and White Collar Crime; Michigan Super Lawyers, a publication of Law & Politics magazine
  • Arab-American Professional of the Year, 2005
  • Defender of Justice Award, National Lawyers Guild, 2004
  • Justice for All Award, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, 2003

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of Michigan
  • American Board of Criminal Lawyers, past-President, (Fellowship), 2006 - present
  • American College of Trial Lawyers (Fellowship)
  • Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Board of Directors, 2004 - present
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Federal Bar Association (Eastern District of Michigan)
  • American Bar Association
  • American Trial Lawyers Association
  • Arab American Bar Association

Practice Areas

For More Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Press Room

On May 15, 2019, O’Reilly Rancilio was honored at the Sterling Edge Awards as Legacy Partner of the Year for its long-standing relationship with the City of St… Read More
On May 22, 2019, Donald DeNault will be a panelist and presenter at the Clinton Township Town Hall on Michigan’s Marijuana Laws at 6:30 p.m. at the Clinton-Macomb… Read More
Read More From Our Press Room


By Eric C. Turnbull On November 6, 2018, the State of Michigan voted “Yes” to Proposal 1 and authorized adult recreational marijuana statewide. The law will b… Read More
By Eric C. Turnbull If you paid any attention to this over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that cleared away a long-standing federal ban on s… Read More
Read More From Our Blog