James D. Owen — Attorney at Law

A Proven Record Winning Tough Criminal Cases

Columbus lawyer James D. Owen has a proven record winning tough criminal cases with a trial record second to none.

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A PROVEN RECORD IN HIGH PROFILE CASES

The Meysenburg Death Penalty Murder Case

Mr. Owen began to acquire his legal reputation in 1986 when he helped engineer the acquittal of Donald Hairston, the accused killer of prominent Columbus businessman John Meysenburg at his German Village florist shop.

Meysenburg, a former candidate for Columbus City Council, was an outspoken member of the Central Ohio Transit Authority. Hairston had endured two previous mistrials, including one that resulted from an attempted escape in which he was nearly gunned down by a Sheriff’s deputy after bolting from the courtroom.

At Hairston’s third trial, Owen unearthed critical pieces of previously overlooked evidence and won Ohio’s first death penalty murder acquittal after Ohio reinstated the death penalty in 1981. 


The Anthony Bernard Hollman Death Penalty Murder and Other Cases

Two years later, Owen won a second acquittal in a death penalty murder case in the high-profile trial of Anthony Bernard Hollman. Owen then won two other serious felony cases for Hollman. After the acquittals, Hollman walked out of the Franklin County courtroom with Owen and remains a free man today.


The William Berry Death Penalty Murder Case

In 1992, Owen won a third acquittal in a Franklin County death penalty murder case against William Berry II.


The Timothy Howard and Gary James Cases

In 2003, Mr. Owen helped free two Columbus men, Timothy Howard and Gary James, who were both convicted and sentenced to death in 1977 for a robbery and murder at an East-side Columbus bank.

Mr. Owen became involved in the case as lead counsel more than 20 years after their convictions.

On April 17, 2003, Mr. Howard was granted a new trial based on compelling new evidence of innocence presented to the trial court by Mr. Owen during a lengthy evidentiary hearing.

On July 17, 2003, Mr. James was also granted a new trial.  Shortly thereafter, the State of Ohio dismissed all charges against both men and agreed to expunge their convictions.

Both men were later found to have been wrongfully imprisoned and received what was then the two highest wrongful imprisonment awards in Ohio history.

In 2006, Cincinnati Magazine and Law & Politics, the publisher of Ohio Super Lawyers magazine, profiled Mr. Owen’s efforts on behalf of Howard and James in an article entitled, The Wrong Men: Tim Howard and Gary James Spent 26 Years Proclaiming their Innocence: James Owen Forced the System to Listen. 


The Randy Resh and Robert Gondor Cases

Between 1996 and 2006, Mr. Owen also worked to help free two Akron-area men, Randy Resh and Robert Gondor, ultimately as the result of a decision rendered by the Ohio Supreme Court.  This decision was the result of 10 years of legal work rendered on their behalf in state post-conviction litigation.

The two men were indicted in 1990 for death penalty murder, and while represented by other attorneys, were convicted and sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment.

After extensive post-conviction litigation initiated by Mr. Owen in 1996, culminating in an eight-day evidentiary hearing, both men were granted new trials on June 14, 2002, based on compelling new evidence of innocence.

After the State of Ohio appealed, and Mr. Owen argued the case three times in the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, ultimately losing.

Mr. Owen then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of Randy Resh, which ultimately granted post-conviction relief in a decision rendered on December 26, 2006.

Both men have since been exonerated of all charges.


Work with the Centurion Ministries Innocence Project

Mr. Owen has assisted and worked in conjunction with Centurion Ministries on behalf of the wrongly convicted.  Centurion is a Princeton-based nonprofit corporation founded by Jim McCloskey that works for the release of the wrongfully convicted. Centurion has freed 70 innocent people throughout the country who were either on death row or serving life sentences.


Work with the Ohio Innocence Project

Mr. Owen also worked with the Ohio Innocence Project on the case of Alan Butts, who was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of murder in 2003.

Mr. Owen began working diligently on Alan’s case in 2010, recruited world renowned expert witnesses, researched and drafted a motion for new trial, and was the engineer of litigation ultimately resulting in Alan’s exoneration.

In 2019, Mr. Owen recruited the Ohio Innocence Project to become involved with him in the case.  Mr. Owen then worked in conjunction with the Project including work in a three-week evidentiary hearing on the new trial motion.

Mr. Owen’s work, together with that of the Ohio Innocence Project, resulted in a 2022 decision granting Mr. Butts a new trial, and ultimately with a 2024 exoneration of Mr. Butts, who by then had spent twenty years in prison for a homicide he did not commit.


The Case of Rapper “EKT 40,” Calvin Fluellen

In 2022, Mr. Owen successfully defended the notorious rapper Calvin Fluellen, known in entertainment circles as “EKT 40” against multiple charges carrying a potential of decades of imprisonment for serious felony offenses, including Felonious Assault, Aggravated Robbery, and the offense of Participation in a Criminal Gang.  Fluellen was found not guilty of all the serious offenses but was convicted of a minor riot charge.


A PROVEN RECORD IN THE COURTS

Mr. Owen has represented seven men and one woman in capital murder cases. Two of these clients pleaded guilty in exchange for sentences of imprisonment. Six cases proceeded to trial.  Three of these clients received jury acquittals on all charges. In the remaining three cases, one client pleaded after her conviction was reversed on appeal to a lesser charge in exchange for shock probation, and the two others were convicted and received terms of imprisonment.

Mr. Owen has focused much of his law practice representing men and women facing felony criminal charges and has taken many of their cases to jury trial.

The following are examples of notable felony cases he has successfully tried to a jury or judge or obtained a complete dismissal of all charges:

State of Ohio v. Richard K

Indictment for Rape and Gross Sexual Imposition. Jury issued a verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Calvin Fluellen

Indictment for Participating in a Criminal Gang and Aggravated Robbery. Jury issued a verdict of NOT GUILTY of both charges.


State of Ohio v. Eric Bickham

Indictment for Aggravated Burglary, Domestic Violence, and Abduction. Verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Yusuf S

Indictment for Abduction and Felonious Assault. Jury rendered a verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Tyler Bourdo

Indictment for Aggravated Burglary, Felonious Assault, and Assault. Jury rendered a verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Patrick Osadebe

Indictment for Rape and Gross Sexual Imposition. Jury rendered a verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Mark Bennett

Indictment for intimidation of a witness by threatening in a tape-recorded conversation to put a contract on the life of a law enforcement officer. After two jury trials ended in a hung jury, the indictment was DISMISSED at the request of the prosecution.


State of Ohio v. Quander Farmer

Indictment for Drug Trafficking and Drug Possession. Jury Trial concluded with a jury verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Fredericka Wagner

Indictment for Perjury and Obstruction of Justice in connection with an alleged cover-up of the Pike County, Ohio Rhoden family massacre. CASE DISMISSED


State of Ohio v. Bradley

Indictment for Improperly Discharging a Firearm into a Habitation and Discharge of A Firearm on a Prohibited Premises. CASE DISMISSED.


State of Ohio v. Penick

Indictment for Felonious Assault. A 5-day jury trial concluded with a jury verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Ridenbaugh

Indictment for 3 Counts of Rape and 4 Counts of Sexual Battery. ALL CHARGES DISMISSED.


State of Ohio v. Bowie

Indictment for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Improper Transportation of a Firearm. A 3-day jury trial concluded with a jury verdict of NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v. Marsh

Indictment for Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor. ALL CHARGES DISMISSED.


State of Ohio v. Mirreh

Indictment for Kidnapping and Attempted Rape. A jury trial concluded with a jury verdict of NOT GUILTY of both charges.


State of Ohio v. Turner

Indictment for Murder, three counts of Involuntary Manslaughter, tampering with evidence, and other charges. A jury trial concluded with a jury verdict of NOT GUILTY on all major charges. The client was released from jail on the day of the jury’s not guilty verdicts.


Timothy Howard v. State of Ohio

Civil murder trial. After a week-long jury trial, a jury of eight issued a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Donald Hairston

Indictment for aggravated murder with death penalty specifications among other charges. A jury
trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges. This was the first acquittal in Ohio by a jury in a death penalty case under Ohio’s 1981 death penalty law


State of Ohio v. Terry Reeves

Indictment for rape and gross sexual imposition. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Sammy Green

Indictment for possession of criminal tools and breaking and entering. A jury trial concluded with a directed verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Alfred Jones

Indictment for aggravated drug trafficking. This case involved multiple sales of narcotics to an undercover police officer. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges based on an entrapment defense.


State of Ohio v. Earl Walker

Indictment for aggravated vehicular homicide. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Lori C

Indictment for aggravated drug trafficking involving 11 grams of cocaine. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Robert Sheppard

Indictment for carrying a concealed weapon. A jury trial concluded with a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury.


State of Ohio v. Bernard Hollman I

Indictment for aggravated murder with death penalty specifications among other charges. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Bernard Hollman II

Indictment for multiple counts of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, and felonious assault with a firearm. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Bernard Hollman III

Indictment for Aggravated Burglary, Kidnapping, and Rape, all in connection with an alleged incident involving a former girlfriend. After extensive pretrial investigation directed towards the alleged victim, the Court ordered the CASE DISMISSED.


State of Ohio v. Maverick Foster

Indictment for felonious assault with a firearm among other charges. A jury trial concluded with a conviction on all charges. The conviction was reversed on direct appeal based on multiple errors raised in the trial court. The indictment was dismissed upon request of the prosecutor after reversal by the court of appeals.


State of Ohio v. Larry Brown

Indictment for rape and felonious assault. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Nancy Flaherty

Indictment for aggravated murder with death penalty specifications among other charges. A jury trial concluded with a conviction on all charges. The conviction was reversed on direct appeal based on errors raised in the trial court. After reversal, the case was resolved by a plea to a lesser offense with a promise of probation.


State of Ohio v. William Berry

Indictment for aggravated murder with death penalty specifications among other charges. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


United States v. Anthony Gurden

Indictment for federal firearms violations. A jury trial concluded with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.


State of Ohio v. Smith

Indictment for the Robbery of a local convenience store. The jury found the client NOT GUILTY of all charges.


State of Ohio v Mefford

Mr. Mefford, a retired Worthington man, was indicted on multiple counts of Gross Sexual Imposition and one count of Attempted Rape. After a week-long trial, our client was found NOT GUILTY of all charges.


Since each case is different, no expectations should be derived or inferred from the foregoing about results that can be achieved in any other case.