Served Eastern District of Pennsylvania for more than 28 years
Philadelphia, Pa. (LAWFUEL) – October 6, 2008 – Pepper Hamilton LLP announced that former U.S. District Judge James T. Giles has joined the firm as Of Counsel, after serving on the bench in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for more than 28 years. He will focus chiefly on referred mediation and arbitration matters, local, national and international in scope. He also will provide advice and counsel to firm clients, and assist the firm’s lawyers with briefing and trial strategies. Further, he will assist in advancing the firm’s diversity goals and initiatives. He is based in the Philadelphia office.
“Jim Giles is a remarkable jurist, lawyer and person,” said Barbara W. Mather, a senior partner with Pepper Hamilton and former chair of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department. “He is highly regarded by lawyers and judges around the country not only for his thoughtful and fair adjudication, but also for his unfailingly courteous manner. He is a terrific addition to the litigation department and will be a valuable resource to many.”
Added Nina M. Gussack, chair of Pepper Hamilton’s Executive Committee, “We are delighted that when Judge Giles decided to step away from the bench, he elected to return to Pepper. With his fine reputation, experience and talent, he would have been much sought after by most law firms in the country and could have gone anywhere. We are thrilled that he chose Philadelphia and Pepper.”
Mr. Giles practiced with Pepper Hamilton, then known as Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, for 11 years before he was appointed to the bench by President Carter in November 1979. He joined the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on January 3, 1980. Mr. Giles advised President Bush in August of his pending retirement on October 3, 2008.
“Over the years, I have remained friends with Barbara Mather and other mentors at Pepper, with many who have moved on to start their own firms, and with others who I now find have come to Pepper from other firms,” said Mr. Giles. “Pepper’s practice is of the highest quality and standards and will continue to be so. I am committed to being an integral part of that laudable legal reputation, and I look forward to contributing to the success of the firm and its clients.”
Mr. Giles brings to Pepper Hamilton almost 29 years of trial judge experience, having handled a docket spanning the wide spectrum of civil and criminal cases typical of a busy metropolitan district. He was appointed by the Multi-Litigation Panel to manage for trial readiness, and attempt to settle, significant MDL cases, among them In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, which now involves more than 13 million claims and was first presided over by the Honorable Charles R. Weiner, and In re Air Crash near Peggy’s Cove, which involved a Swiss Air crash over international waters near Nova Scotia on September 2, 1998.
Other complex mass tort class actions over which he presided include In re Asbestos School Litigation, which was national in scope, and Hurt v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, which resulted in a landmark decision that lead paint injuries do not create claims under certain federal statutes. Through settlement processes in the Hurt case, important changes were made to PHA regulations. Mr. Giles also presided over one of the first criminal RICO cases prosecuted in the Third Circuit.
In addition to his regular and MDL calendars, Judge Giles maintained a calendar of assigned civil and criminal cases in the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands, through appointment by the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, to attempt to address judicial shortages in the face of a large and complex docket. There, on the civil side, significant legal issues often arose from the status of the Virgin Islands as a territory and the intricacies of local laws.
Mr. Giles was Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for a full term of seven years, from 1999 until 2006, and in that regard followed in the paths of Chief Judges Edward N. Cahn and Louis C. Bechtle. One of his accomplishments as Chief Judge was to reach out to all the county bar associations in the district and encourage them to function within the Eastern District through federal court committees.
In 2004, Mr. Giles invited all federal court committees to participate in the planning and activities of the Just The Beginning Foundation’s convocation of African-American federal judges in Philadelphia, which was sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association. The endeavor was a rich educational vehicle for the telling of American legal history without omission and without regard to race, color, national origin, gender or religion. From the planning activities came a traveling exhibit on Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which is now available to public, private and parochial schools.
In 1968, Mr. Giles was the first African-American lawyer to join Pepper Hamilton, and in 1974, he was the first person of color to be elected to the firm’s partnership. Early in his practice, he was elected secretary of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, and he became actively involved in the association’s endeavors, including the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights when attorney Edwin D. (“Ned”) Wolf was its executive director.
Mr. Giles is a graduate of Amherst College (B.A. 1964) and Yale Law School (LL.B. 1967).