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I have practiced law in Pensacola and surrounding areas for twenty-eight years. My proven expertise is the result of handling over 8,000 criminal and civil cases working for government agencies, small and large law firms. My experience is rare, in that, I have spent my career, both, prosecuting and defending many types of legal actions. My focus areas of practice are criminal defense and personal injury. My proven defense methods have procured results due to hundreds of dismissals, NOT GUILTY jury verdicts and my 87% trial success rate. My criminal defense focus is on everything from traffic violations to complex murder cases. One of my cases achieved national attention, which was featured on CNN.

I have had the privilege to work for larger firms and discovered that bigger is not always better. My firm does not waste efforts on overstated office buildings and expensive advertising that can result in an atmosphere where attorney’s take on too many cases to pay for an inflated overhead. Instead, I prefer to focus my time, resources and finances on my clients and their specific needs. At the law firm of James R. Barnes, you will be treated as an individual, not just another case. I am passionate about the law and dedicated to achieving the best case results for my clients.

Awards and Recognition

  • Rated Distinguished, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Million Dollar Advocate, 2013
  • Pro Bono Award for Escambia/Santa Rosa Counties, 1994
  • CNN, Capital Murder Case Featured
  • The National Trial Lawyers TOP 100



  • Escambia/Santa Rosa Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2009 – Present
  • Northwest Florida District Of Federal Court, 1992 – Present
  • Florida Bar, 1990 – Present


Speaking Engagements

  • Annual Public Defender State Conference, 2010

          The Art of Jury Selection

  • Personal Injury Seminar, 2008

          How to Prepare Meaningful Demand Packages for Personal Injury Cases




Practice Areas
  • Criminal Defense
  • Personal Injury
  • University of Mississippi School of Law, Oxford, Mississippi, 1990 J.D.
  • St. Leo University, St. Leo, Florida 1987 B.A.
Bar Admission
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida, 1992
  • Florida, 1990