James Foster Neal (James Foster Neal)

James Foster Neal

American Trial Lawyer. He was considered one of the nation’s most outstanding prosecuting and defense attorneys. He attended the University of Wyoming on a football scholarship before joining the United States Marine Corps in the early 1950s. Following military service, he attended Vanderbilt and Georgetown Universities, earning advanced degrees in law. He served as a special assistant to US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy beginning in 1961. In 1964 he successfully prosecuted teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa on charges of jury tampering, and also obtained convictions against Attorney General John Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman and Robert C. Mardian for their involvement in the Watergate political scandal in the early 1970s. In addition to his work for the federal government, he also successfully defended several high profile clients including Elvis Presley’s personal physician George Nichopoulos against charges of medication mismanagement and abuse, and filmmaker John Landis against charges of negligence involving a helicopter crash that killed actor Vic Morrow and two small children on the motion picture set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. In 1980 he successfully defended the Ford Motor Corporation in a criminal case of reckless homicide, resulting from the death of three young women, killed when the gas tank of their Ford Pinto exploded after being struck from behind. His only major courtroom defeat occurred in 1990, representing the Exxon Corporation in the Alaskan Exxon Valdez oil spill, resulting in a record 1 billion dollar fine and settlement against the company. He was an inductee into both the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. In 1985 he was recognized as one of the nation’s five best trial attorneys by Fortune Magazine. He was the recipient of the Golden Plate Award presented by the American Academy of Achievement, the Founders Medalist Award from Vanderbilt University in 1957, and Distinguished Alumni awards from both the University of Wyoming and Vanderbilt University. He died in a Nashville hospital from complications of throat cancer.  (bio by: Nils M. Solsvik Jr.)


  • September, 07, 1929
  • USA


  • October, 10, 2010
  • USA


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