James Cook | Lawyer

James Cook

Burris, Nisenbaum, Curry & Lacy | Attorney

Formidable. Knowledgeable. Capable. These things characterize attorney James Cook, who joined the Law Offices of John L. Burris in 2005. In 2022, when the partners joined to form Burris, Nisenbaum, Curry & Lacy, LLP, James remained as a civil litigation attorney to continue to do what he loves: fight for his clients and fellow community members. Over the years, he has built a diverse and extensive practice, and though Section 1983 civil rights litigation is central to his law practice, he helps clients with other legal needs, too. James has represented clients in criminal defense, DUI/DWI defense, landlord-tenant law, personal injury, contract law, and corporate entity formation. Each practice area and each case informs the other – and though these cases vary widely, James provides the same persistence and skill to yield results in the best interests of his clients.

Testimony to his persistent nature to render meaningful results on civil rights issues, James is the counsel of record for a class action lawsuit seeking racial justice that has been in the courts since November 2015. A nonprofit organization and seven families, together, sued the State of Minnesota asserting that segregation has led to unfair and substandard educational environments for racial and ethnic minority children in the St. Paul and Minneapolis school districts. This case, Cruz-Guzman v. The State of Minnesota, has taken many turns and twists but remains open and will be heard before the Supreme Court.

Outside the law office and courtroom, the community loves James for his personality as well as all of his contributions. He exemplifies what it means to give back. An avid volunteer, James has helped many organizations deliver legal services to the community. Currently, he volunteers for the San Francisco Bar Association’s Justice and Diversity Pro Bono Housing Clinic. He also volunteers for the Alameda County Bar Association’s Unlawful Detainer Mediation, Bankruptcy, and Family Law Clinics. As if his law practice and volunteerism did not keep him busy enough, James remains forever an active member of the Earl Warren Inn of Court, where members work to increase professionalism in law and to provide mentoring to Alameda future lawyers and legal community.

James’ fighting nature has come naturally. Before he put gloves on to enter the courtroom, he had gloves on to enter the ring. He is a decorated champion in Muay Thai Full-Contact Kickboxing. As a professional kickboxer, he traveled to every corner of the world to compete in televised bouts – from all over the United States to Japan, Thailand, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Russia, and Turkey. He won Golden Gloves Boxing in two states and competed in Mixed Martial Arts, aka Ultimate Fighting. Though competing in the ring is not his focus today, he continues to learn and compete from time to time in martial arts competitions. He also coaches professional and amateur combat sports competitors.

Being in physical and mental shape is key to James’ success. It keeps him motivated and alert. It also keeps him strong, whether that’s in the courtroom or the ring. In the end, winning is what he likes best.

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P: 510-839-5200 Northern California Office
About James Cook
  • Golden Gate University School of Law, JD
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, M.A.
  • Howard University, B.A.
  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Eastern District of California
  • U.S. Northern District of California
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Alameda County Bar Association
  • Earl Warren Inn of Court
  • San Francisco Bar Association, Justice and Diversity Center
  • National Bar Association
  • Kliment v. San Francisco (2021), Settlement: $3 Million

    A homeless man suffered a heart attack while in police custody in a hospital lobby. The police had restrained his hands and feet behind his back, known as “hog-tying”. His family filed a lawsuit and settled.

  • Ford v. Sacramento (2021), Settlement: $2 million

    The victim died in the back of a police van. The family filed a lawsuit and settled.

  • Doss v. Alameda County (2022), Settlement: $2.5 million

    The victim died in police custody at Santa Rita Jail. For almost 24 hours, law enforcement ignored the victim’s need for medical help and later used excessive force when finally transporting him to an outpatient housing unit, which resulted in his death. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and settled.

  • Cardone v. Alameda County (2020), Settlement: $1.5 Million

    The victim was blinded in Santa Rita Jail. A lawsuit was filed and settled.
Case Results

Reginald Oliver v. City of Oakland

Oakland Police keep fabricating evidence and lying about minorities to arrest and prosecute them for supposed “gang” crimes, in violation of a settlement that prohibits …

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Named plaintiff Reginald Oliver claims the Oakland PD continues violating the Constitution, in defiance of the settlement in Delphine Allen e al. v. City of Oakland, USDC No. C-00-4599 TEH, also known as "The Riders" litigation. Read Full Course
John Burris
Jane Smith v. City of Oakland

Racial profiling of Asian women by police officer resulting in a class action complaint for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief

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Finding evidence about defendant's post-conviction parole violation unfairly prejudicial "since the jury could have construed that parole violation as character evidence in violation of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)" Read Full Course
Rodney King
Rodney King v. City of Los Angeles

Rodney King has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to have Judge John G. Davies disqualified from presiding at the trial of …

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Rodney King waited too long to file a malpractice suit against the first of 27 lawyers who represented him in connection with the infamous beating he suffered from Los Angeles police in 1991, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. The ruling by Div. Two affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Kough’s grant of summary judgment to Steven Lerman. King earlier this year dismissed his appeal of Kough’s ruling in favor of two other lawyers sued in the case, Federico Sayre and John Burris. Read Full Course
FEATURED News & Updates

Civil rights lawyer John Burris confronts police narratives

Written by Janie Har, AP researcher Rhonda Shafner also contributed to this report. To read on AP News click here OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Before …

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