At the 2015 Bench Bar Conference, you’ll have the chance to hear from some of the nation’s leading legal experts. One such speaker is James “Jim” P. Cooney III, partner at Womble Carlyle in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cooney will be leading one of the opening plenary sessions, “The Duke Lacrosse Defense: How Technology Unraveled a Case.”
In addition to the Duke lacrosse case, Cooney has litigated other high-profile cases, such as Alan Gell’s death row appeal. He practices civil and criminal law, including trial and appellate work, and he is currently the Practice Group Leader of the Business Litigation Practice Group at his firm.
There’s a lot to be said about Mr. Cooney’s prolific career in law, but we’ll let him speak for himself. Check out our Q&A with him below and then get to know him even better when you attend the conference in June.
Q: How long have you practiced law?
I graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1982 and clerked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit before joining a law firm. I was admitted to practice law in April 1984, so “legally speaking” I have practiced law for 31 years.
Q: What can people expect from your session at the conference?
They will learn the inside facts of the Duke lacrosse case and some basic DNA technology and testing in the context of a claimed sexual assault.
Q: What are some of the highlights that set your presentation apart?
My experience has been that most lawyers, particularly civil trial lawyers, enjoy the way in which we “deconstructed” the state’s case to prove the innocence of our clients.
Q: What’s one of the most interesting things about the Duke lacrosse defense?
The complete way the case turned around. It began with the state accusing my client of a crime that would have sent him to jail for life, and ended up with the district attorney being disbarred and jailed for contempt and my client being exonerated.
Q: How is technology shaping the legal field today?
Putting aside metadata and e-discovery, the most significant role of technology is in the way that we have to communicate to jurors who have now been raised on it. Presentations must look more like the Internet and must appeal to them technologically in order to hold their interest.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about being in Louisville and speaking at Bench Bar?
Really good small batch bourbon and a run by the waterfront (likely not in that order).
Q: Most interesting case you’ve ever worked on and why?
Hard to isolate one. I have represented accused serial killers, freed innocent men from death row, had the Duke lacrosse case and defended former Senator John Edwards, so I have had a genuine rollercoaster ride.
Q: What’s the best part about your job?
Giving a closing argument in a hotly contested high-profile case.
Q: What do you do when you’re not busy working or speaking at conferences?
I like to do (short) triathlons.
Q: What’s a fun fact about you that people may not know?
I went to Duke and my wife went to North Carolina. We have a mixed marriage and do not talk much during basketball season. It has worked for 36 years.
Get to know more about Mr. Cooney and his work on the Duke Lacrosse case at the 2015 Bench Bar Conference. Register at indybenchbar.org!•