Jim Samuels, big rapids trial attorney

Big Rapids trial attorney Jim Samuels has over 30 years of courtroom experience. He served as the elected Prosecuting Attorney in Mecosta County for 12 years and also served on the Board of Directors for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan. He has taught advanced trial practice to prosecutors throughout the state.

After returning to private practice in 1996, Jim Samuels focused the majority of his practice on criminal defense. He’s been recognized by other criminal lawyers around Michigan for his trial skills in criminal cases. He is on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys Trial College and provides training for other criminal defense attorneys. He served as the President of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and was the Chairman of the Thomas M. Cooley Innocence Project Commission.

Jim worked with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic on cases which led to the exoneration of two men who were wrongfully convicted. Jamie Peterson spent 19 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. He was released from prison in 2014 as a result of the Innocence Clinic efforts. Victor Caminata was exonerated of an arson charge for which he spent over 3 years in prison.

Jim Samuels has written and published on the topic of false confession and also on issues related to confessions by the mentally retarded and was appointed to the State Bar of Michigan’s Task Force for recording interrogations. He promoted legislation that requires law enforcement to record interrogations and is worked within the criminal justice system to implement reforms on eyewitness identification. He received the prestigious 2006 Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan for exceptional dedication and service to the cause of justice.  He also received the Cahill Leadership Award from the State Bar of Michigan in 2011 for the A is for Attorney program he developed to train new attorneys on how to be effective criminal defense attorneys.  He offered testimony to the Governor’s Indigent Defense Reform commission in December of 2011, and testified about indigent defense legislation in both the Michigan House and Senate.

Jim Samuels was recently selected as one of Michigan’s “Super Lawyers” in the area of criminal defense. Super Lawyers are selected based on a number of criteria including, but not limited to: representation of clients, experience, awards, peer evaluation, and professional activities. Only 5% of the lawyers in the state are chosen for Super Lawyer status.  In 2016, a Circuit Court Judge described James Samuels this way: “He is considered one of the most skilled defense attorneys in Western Michigan, if not the whole state.”

Mr. Samuels professional activities include:

  • Criminal Law Section of the State of Michigan
  • Adjunct professor at Ferris State University teaching the legal aspects of Social Work Course
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Former Chairman of the Innocence Commission, which oversees the Cooley Law School Innocence Project
  • Recipient of the Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
  • State Bar of Michigan Task Force for recording interrogations
  • Michigan Super Lawyer

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Defense
  • Drivers License Restoration
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Probate and Estate Planning

Bar Admissions

  • Michigan, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, 2010

Education

  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan
    • J.D. cum laude – 1981
  • Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan
    • AAS Legal Assistant – 1975
    • BS Business Administration – 1977

Classes/Seminars

  • Faculty, Criminal Defense Attorneys Trial College
  • “A is For Attorney”

Honors and Awards

  • Prestigious 2006 Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
  • State Bar Cahill Leadership Award for “A is For Attorney”
  • Michigan’s “Super Lawyers” in the Area of Criminal Defense

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Former Member of  Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan, Board of Directors
  • Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM), Former President
  • Thomas M. Cooley Innocence Project Commission, Former Chairman
  • State of Michigan, Criminal Law Section
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys

Pro Bono Activities

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, 2000 – 2001