Jonathan L. Katz- Defending people’s liberty since 1991. Jon has been a trial lawyer since 1991, when he joined the Maryland Public Defender’s Office (1991-96) after working with a corporate law firm (1989-91). Jon graduated from a highly-ranked law school and college- George Washington University Law School (J.D. 1989) and Tufts University (B.A., cum laude, 1985). After a highly-competitive selection process, he attended the premier Trial Practice Institute of the National Criminal Defense College (1994) and the Trial Lawyer’s College (1995).
After two years with a local trial law firm (1996-98), Jon became his own boss with his former law partner Jay Marks (1998-2008), serving as the firm’s criminal defense law partner, and also handling First Amendment defense. Jon then formed his current law firm in 2008. During the year between college and law school, Jon worked as a financial examiner at a Wall Street bank, including reviewing for compliance with money laundering laws, against theft, and for sound financial practices.
While Jon’s main work is trial litigation, he also has significant appellate experience. His published victories are: Dring v. Sullivan, 423 F. Supp. 2d 540 (D.Md. 2006), where Jon convinced a federal trial court to eject a defamation suit brought by one martial arts referee against our client martial arts referee, because the lawsuit was filed in the wrong federal court; and Maryland v. Taylor, et al., 371 Md. 617, 810 A.2d 964 (2002), where Jon and the co-appellant won a key criminal case dismissal under state double jeopardy principles.
Jon also co-authored an amicus brief for the Free Speech Coalition of D.C., Maryland & Virginia in favor of an adult video store which on appeal won the invalidation of a county’s adult zoning law as violating the First Amendment. Pack Shack v. Howard County, Maryland, 377 Md. 55, 832 A.2d 170 (2003).
By Jon Katz
Being on the side of the angels, I thrive in the battle for my clients. Winning is euphoric and battling for victory is a thrill in itself. My zeal for fighting for the accused goes as far back as the age of ten, when a teacher stopped me in the hall, and interrogated: “Why were you playing last Wednesday at the apartments across the street?” I asked why she was accusing me. “Because someone reported a brown-haired boy in a blue coat doing that.” I replied: “You have just described half the boys in the school.” I then walked away from this teacher possibly stunned by my firm mouth of reason. She never crossed my path again…
Three years later, I talked a teacher into reversing a detention he ordered over my talking, while bored, to another student while the teacher was trying to teach class
My clients are also my constituents, too often unfairly painted as alleged wrongdoers and ne’er-do-wells by police, prosecutors, judges and the general public. From my fifth grade hallway run-in alone, I know how it feels to be accused.
The stakes are often high for criminal defendants, and the battle plans need to be tailor made, ready to include unconventional approaches when orthodoxy will not do.
One day a client expressed surprise that I would entertain taking his “small criminal case.” To me, no case is too big or too small, because, in the end, an often substantial piece of my client’s life is connected to that case, and I take seriously the responsibility my client places in me to fight for justice alongside my client. There is no such thing as just another drunk driving case, just another drug case, just another weapons case, or just another any kind of case. Each case is critical for each client, and each case comes alive through the human drama surrounding the case and with our fighting on the right side of justice. I do my best to convey my client’s story, my client’s humanity, and how this indeed, is not just another case on the docket, to judges and juries in a compelling and persuasive way in our fight for justice for each client, one at a time.
I listen deeply to what you are saying and not saying; and to your concerns, fears and hopes. I use that as ammunition to fight on your behalf and to help give you harmony and to reduce the pressure on your shoulders as we proceed forward. I endeavor to bill honestly and to give full value to my clients. I will always be honest and fair with you, not only because the lawyers’ ethics rules mandate it, but also because that is the only way I have known how to live.
We are easy to reach and easy to talk to. We welcome your inquiries.
For Jon Katz, his work is all about his clients, winning, and civil liberties.
From the time Jon Katz entered public school in 1968, he was captivated by the daily Pledge of Allegiance’s promise of Liberty and Justice for All, and then the Declaration of Independence’s insistence on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and ending tyranny.
However, Jon quickly realized that such promises of justice too much remain aspirations rather than reality. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated when Jon was five years old. He was four when the United States Supreme Court finally invalidated Virginia’s law making it a felony for intermarried couples to live in the state.
Jon thrives defending his clients in criminal court not because it is some sort of rarefied place to do intellectual jousting, but because despite the mess and ugliness that often faces criminal defendants in court and through their prosecutions, the courtroom is the decisive battlefield for obtaining justice.
Jon’s main motivating factors for doing the work he does is fully serving clients against the legally-backed might of police and prosecutors, civil liberties, and the thrill of battling for victory. As a result, Jon’s legal practice focuses on criminal defense and DWI defense, where DWI ensnares even those who otherwise support governments’ so-called get-tough-on-crime campaigns. Because civil liberties are not only protected through criminal defense, on occasion Jon also defends students caught in disciplinary actions, and defends the First Amendment through libel defense, adult entertainment defense, and defense of political activists and demonstrators.
Jon defends you regardless of your politics, profession, or personal background. He fights for you no matter how big or small your case may seem. All that matters to Jon is that you are an individual needing a lawyer to fight for your rights and for the best possible outcome in your case.
All of the above is Jon’s call to battle for his clients. Backing that up is his over two decades of experience successfully defending clients at trial and in negotiations backed by readiness to go to trial, and by Jon’s close teamwork with his experienced staff.
Jon and his staff are ready to serve you.
LAWYERING WITHOUT BORDERS:
Jon believes in lawyering without borders, by being admitted to the surrounding essential bars and by litigating with an eye to transcending obstacles as best he can. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and the state and federal trial and appellate courts Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Jon passed both his bar exams (Virginia and Maryland) on the first sitting, including when the Virginia bar exam had a 45% pass rate (Feb. 1997).
INCORPORATING LEARNING FROM AMONG THE GREATEST UNIVERSITIES AND TRIAL COLLEGES:
Jon graduated from the highly-competitive George Washington University Law School (J.D. 1989) and Tufts University (B.A., cum laude, 1985). Through highly-competitive selection processes, Jon attended the Trial Practice Institute of the National Criminal Defense College (1994) and the full-month Trial Lawyer’s College (1995).
SHARING HIS LEARNING WITH HIS PEERS AND THE PUBLIC:
Believing strongly in sharing the gifts of knowledge and insight that Jon has received from his colleagues and teachers, Jon gives back with his criminal defense blog, assembling numerous trial workshops over the years at his office to brainstorm the path to victory, accepting numerous news media interviews to explain legal news of the day, and simply sharing back and forth with colleagues at the courthouse and over the phone and email.
LEARNING AND HELPING THROUGH KEY ORGANIZATIONS:
Great legal defense requires constant learning and retooling, including through sharing and brainstorming with colleagues, and serving worthy organizations. In that regard, Jon is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, Legal Committee of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, First Amendment Lawyers Association, American Civil Liberties Union. Jon is a past Vice President of the Philippine American Bar Association of the capital area (1998-2001), Board Member of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (2002-05), and Board Member of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (1992-95).
PROCEEDING WITH RICH WORK EXPERIENCE:
Jon opened his current law firm in 2008. Before then, he was the criminal defense law partner at the law firm of Marks & Katz, LLC (1998-2008), a trial lawyer at Chaikin & Sherman (1996-98), a trial lawyer at the Maryland Public Defender’s Office, and an associate attorney at D.C.’s Weiner, McCaffrey law firm. During law school, Jon worked as a law clerk at the Weiner, McCaffrey law firm (1988-90), and a first-year summer law clerk at the then-named Federal Home Loan Bank Board (1988). Before law school, Jon worked for a year as a financial auditor at the Irving Trust Company (1985-86), an insurance assistant at an agency of Chubb Insurance (1984), and as an intern at Shearson/American Express (1983) and the Center for Space Policy (1983).
Spreading the word of justice. Jon believes in spreading the word of justice on his blog and through the news media. He is experienced effectively dealing with the media to his clients’ best advantage, having defended in such high profile cases as the Westboro Baptist Church’s trial (that proceeded to a Supreme Court victory on First Amendment grounds); radical peace activists in the Plowshares depleted uranium case (teaming up with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark to defend famous peace activist Philip Berrigan and co-defendants).
Jon speaks fluent French (since 1975) and proficient Spanish (since 1983).