James L. Burdon
Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney



Voted as one of
“The Best Lawyers in America” for criminal defense since 1989.

Representing Richard Beasley from the Craigslist Killings, James Burdon was "as polished and professional trial lawyer as they come," as described by the Akron Beacon Journal in the eBook, The Craigslist Killings.


• Selected for inclusion in the national publication, The Best Lawyers In America, 1989 – present.

• Admitted as a Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 1994 – present.

• Outstanding Alumni Award, The University of Akron, School of Law, 1995.

• Northern Ohio Live, Top Lawyers, 2003 - present.

• Cincinnati Magazine, Ohio Super Lawyers, 2004 - present.

• Ohio Super Lawyers Magazine,

• Akron Life and Leisure Magazine,

• Martindale-Hubbell, peer review.
Highest possible rating in legal
abilities and ethical standards.



"Akron’s premier criminal-defense lawyer… his defense is about the best money can buy."
                            -  Bob Dyer, Akron Beacon Journal




For over 30 years, James Burdon has practiced exclusively in criminal litigation as a prosecutor and thereafter as a partner in the law firm of Burdon & Merlitti

• Tried over one hundred forty cases to juries.

• Represented over thirty homicide defendants – including six jury acquittals, two not guilty by reason of insanity, three dismissals, one not charged, several resulting in lesser offenses.

• Represented scores of vehicular manslaughter cases.

• Has represented clients in Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Guernsey, Lake, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trunball, Tuscawaras, Washington and Wayne counties. .

• Argued state criminal appeals before the 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th District Court of Appeals.

• Argued cases before the Supreme Court of Ohio.

• Defended criminal clients in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, including bank frauds, and other “white collar” offenses.

• Prosecuted federal appeals before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Noteworthy Cases

• State v. Patrick Conley, an Akron Police Officer acquitted of killing a prisoner in his custody (1972).

• State v. Frank Sperrow, acquitted of capital murder charge that he killed an Akron Police Officer.

• State v. Judge James Barbuto, covered by National Television News Magazine 20-20.

• State v. Robert Buell, 22 Ohio St.3d 124, approved the introduction of expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identifications.

• State v. John Boston, 46 Ohio St.3d 108., limited the right of the state to present expert testimony regarding the truthfulness of an alleged child sexual abuse victim.

• State v. Steven Boszik, broadcast by Court TV.

• State v. Karen Grubb, believed to be the first successful defense of a murder defendant, in the State of Ohio, where the jury acquitted on "battered wife syndrome."

• State v. Paul Stanley, state dismissed capital murder indictment of parents charged with the arson of their home with purpose to kill their 13 month old son (2003).

• State v. Davis Corsi, state dismissed indictment of daycare operator indicted for voyeurism of the children in his care.

• State v. Fred Knippenberg, indicted for the murder of his wife, state reduced the charges to involuntary manslaughter, in the face of "battered spouse syndrome" defence, and placed the client on probation (2005).

• State v. Richard Haught, a youth baseball coach charged in a death arising out of a post-game dispute, acquitted by a jury of the homicide (2006).

• State v. Jacob Carlson, charged with murder in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, an Akron Police Detective. Dismissed (2006).

• State v. Megan Brown, charged with murder and robbery in a shooting death arising from the forced entry into the victim's home. The murder charge was dismissed (2007).

• State v. Don Michel, indicted for 17 gambling counts including RICO and Money Laundering. All counts were dismissed followng a successful defense motion for "selective prosecution." (2008).

• USA v. Compton, et al. Defended multiple defendants in a federal mortgage fraud scheme involving millions of dollars, none of whom served one day of confinement. (2013)

• State v. Mills. Defendant charged with rape of a child carrying a potential penalty of life. Found guilty of a non-sexual offense and placed on direct probation. (2013)

• State v. Barbas. Defendant charged with a felony offense of failure to register as a sexual offender. Case dismissed. (2013)


"You know it's going to be a bad day, as the old joke goes, when a crew from 60 Minutes shows up at your door.  Who ya gonna call?  If you're smart, Jim Burdon...

Burdon, 55, is widely regarded as Akron's premier criminal-defense lawyer. He lands more front-page cases in one year than most attorneys do in a lifetime. And it's been that way for more than 20 years.

Perhaps the best measure of a person's professional status is the opinion of his peers. What do Burdon's peers think? Let's put it this way:

When a sitting judge needed a good criminal lawyer in 1980, James Barbuto turned to Burdon.

When a prominent local lawyer needed a good criminal lawyer in 1993, he turned to Burdon.

When a Portage County prosecutor needed a good criminal lawyer this year, David Norris turned to Burdon.

"This guy is the king," stated the attorney, who had faced felony charges in the widely publicized Revere Road Synagogue bingo case. "His respect is legion. ... "When he speaks, everybody listens. The guy is so impressive in the courtroom that it's unbelievable. His choice of words and the way he makes his presentation is ... just incredible. I've been practicing law 25 years and I was impressed."

The attorney, who continues to insist he did absolutely nothing wrong, pleaded guilty to three technicalities involving record-keeping.

Barbuto, faced with a 26-count indictment, was convicted of only two charges and received shock probation after just 78 days in jail.

Norris pleaded guilty to one charge of cocaine possession and agreed to quit his job in exchange for the dropping of multiple federal charges and the retention of his law license.

Cops, councilmen and child pornographers. White-collar criminals and cold-blooded murderers. People with fancy family names like Seiberling. Burdon has defended them all.

Bob Dyer, Akron Beacon Journal           


The best criminal defense.
If you or a family member is facing criminal charges, secure the best possible legal counsel that you can. From drunk driving to homicide, Jim Burdon
has the experience, track record and reputation as one of Ohio's best defense attorneys.


Home  l  About James Burdon  l  Noteworthy Cases  l  Ohio Criminal Defense  l  DUI - Drunk Driving Attorney  l  Contact

The Delaware Building :: 137 S. Main St., Ste 201 :: Akron, Ohio 44308

Telephone (330) 253-7171 :: Fax (330) 253-7174

© James Burdon, LPA 2005