James E. Felman's Profile
James E. Felman has been named Tampa 2012 "Lawyer of the Year" for Non-White-Collar Criminal Defense and 2011 "Lawyer of the Year" for White-Collar Criminal Defense by BEST LAWYERS. Only a single lawyer in each high-profile legal specialty in each large legal community is being honored as the "LAWYER OF THE YEAR" by BEST LAWYERS, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. He is also listed in THE BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA for white-collar criminal defense, non-white-collar criminal defense, and appellate law, and in LEADING AMERICAN ATTORNEYS for criminal defense law. FLORIDA TREND has named him one of the top 2% of attorneys in the state by listing him in FLORIDA LEGAL ELITE for criminal law. Based on peer recognition and professional achievement, FLORIDA SUPER LAWYERS has recognized Mr. Felman for his Criminal Defense: White Collar practice. CORPORATE COUNSEL has recognized Mr. Felman as a Top Lawyer for Criminal Defense.
In April 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) presented Mr. Felman with a Grassroots Advocacy Award for his role as the ABA Criminal Justice Section Sentencing Committee co-chair where he has testified numerous times before Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission in support of the decision to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences through the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The award is given as part of the ABA's annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession.
In January 2010, Mr. Felman was awarded the Hillsborough County Bar Association Criminal Law Section's first annual Marcelino "Bubba" Huerta Award for pro bono service and the pursuit of equal justice. He was awarded the 2006 George C. Carr Memorial Award for excellence in federal practice and distinguished service to the Federal Bar. He was also awarded the 2005 NACDL's President's Commendation Certificate for outstanding service.
Mr. Felman was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, and raised in Gainesville, Florida. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, B.A. cum laude, 1984, and Duke University, M.A. Phil. and J.D. with high honors (Order of the Coif), 1987, where he was Administrative Editor of The Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems. Following law school, Mr. Felman was a law clerk to Judge Theodore McMillian of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri.
From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Felman organized and moderated the Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which was jointly sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the United States Sentencing Commission. Mr. Felman was a member of the Practitioners' Advisory Group (PAG) to the Sentencing Commission from 1994 to 2009 and served as co-chair of the PAG from 1998 to 2002. The PAG is the national organization which advises the Commission on amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines from the perspective of the criminal defense bar. Mr. Felman has also testified on a variety of topics relating to sentencing law before Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission.
Mr. Felman is the co-chair of the Committee on Sentencing of the American Bar Association. He serves as a member of the governing council of the ABA Criminal Justice Section, 2008-present. Mr. Felman is a former President of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and has served on the Board of that organization from 1995 to the present. He is a member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, 2008-present; and has been elected to The American Law Institute, 2009-present. He is a past co-chair of the ABA's Committee on Corrections and Sentencing, and a former member of the ABA's Special Task Force on Blakely v. Washington. He also served as a member of The Sentencing Initiative of The Constitution Project, a bi-partisan blue ribbon panel on federal sentencing reform.
Mr. Felman serves on the Advisory Board of the NACDL CHAMPION. He also serves on the Advisory Board on the Bureau of National Affairs' Criminal Law Reporter, 2010-present. He is a master in The Herbert G. Goldburg Criminal Law American Inn of Court. Mr. Felman has formerly chaired both the Trial Lawyers Section and the Criminal Law Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and served on the Board of Directors of the Hillsborough County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He served on the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida from 2005 to 2007. Mr. Felman is a former Adjunct Professor of federal criminal law at the Stetson University College of Law, and is a past chairman of Grievance Committee 13A of The Florida Bar.
Mr. Felman has tried cases before juries on charges ranging from bank fraud to first degree murder. He has also handled numerous complex criminal appeals, including Shelton v. Secretary, Dep't of Corrections, 2011 WL 3236040 (M.D. Fla. July 27, 2011) (grant of fedeal postconviction motion on federal constitutional grounds); Purvis v. State, 2010 WL 1926816 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (denial of post-conviction motion reversed on rehearing); Butts v. State, 975 So. 2d 590 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008) (conviction reversed due to evidentiary error); Behanna v. State , 985 So. 2d 550 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007) (conviction reversed due to evidentiary error); Henrion v. State, 895 So. 2d 1213 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005) (conviction reversed due to evidentiary error); Pierce v. State, 873 So. 2d 618 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004) (ordering disqualification of trial judge); United States v. Sigma International, 244 F.3d 841 (11th Cir. 2001), reh'g en banc granted, opinion vacated, 287 F.3d 1325 (11th Cir. 2002) (panel opinion reversed convictions due to prosecutorial misconduct; case settled after court agreed to rehear en banc); United States v. Gepp, unpublished (11th Cir. 2001) (restitution order vacated); United States v. Liss, 265 F.3d 1220 (11th Cir. 2001) (restitution order and sentence vacated); United States v. Burns, unpublished (11th Cir. 2001) (conviction reversed due to evidentiary error); State v. Acker, 787 So. 2d 77 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) (petition for post-conviction relief granted; remanded for new trial); State v. Hayden, 760 So. 2d 1031 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) (conviction reversed due to discovery error); United States v. Siegel, unpublished (11th Cir. 2000) (sentence vacated); Royster v. State, 741 So. 2d 606 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (conviction reversed due to evidentiary error); United States v. Crutchfield, 26 F.3d 1098 (11th Cir. 1994) (conviction reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct); United States v. Hassan, 966 F.2d 1415 (11th Cir. 1992) (conviction reversed for insufficient evidence of guilt). He has been involved in numerous complex investigations regarding alleged financial and environmental crimes, health care fraud, and public corruption.
Mr. Felman has handled civil appeals as well, including Mishkin v. Gurian, 205 Fed. Appx. 856, 2006 WL 2374238 (2d Cir. 2006) (reversing $200 million judgment); Smith v. Foremost Insurance Company, 884 So. 2d 341 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004) (reversing summary judgment for defendants in class action litigation); and Lochmere Development Group, Inc. v. Eiger Fund I, L.P., unpublished (11th Cir. 2002) (case settled after filing of initial brief).
Mr. Felman is a co-author of the Second Edition of GRAND JURY LAW AND PRACTICE, a two-volume treatise published by West Group. In addition, Mr. Felman's significant writings include "Tough New Sentencing Guidelines on Health Care Fraud Need Revisiting," 89:9 Criminal Law Reporter (BNA) 323 (2011); "The Need to Reform the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for High-Loss Economic Crimes," 23:2 Fed. Sent. Rptr. 138 (2010); "The State of the Sentencing Union: A Call for Fundamental Reexamination," 20:5 Fed. Sent. Rptr. 337 (2008); "The Fifth Amendment and the Grand Jury," Criminal Justice (Spring 2007); "The Need for Procedural Reform in Federal Criminal Cases," The Champion (July 2005); "How Should the Congress Respond if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Federal Sentencing Guidelines'," 17:2 Fed. Sent. Rptr. 97 (2005); "Enlisting Grand Juries in the War on Terrorism," 25:2 Harv. J. Law & Pub. Policy, 699 (2002); "The Incompatibility of Real Offense Sentencing Guidelines and the Federal Criminal Code," 7:3 Fed. Sent. Rptr. 125 (1995); "Defense Strategies for Litigating Substantial Assistance Downward Departures," The Champion (July 1994); and "Drug Testing and Public Employment: Toward a Rational Application of the Fourth Amendment," 50:1 Law & Contemp. Probs. 253 (1988).