John R. Mitchell
- E firstname.lastname@example.org
- T (216) 706-3909
- F (216) 241-3707
- C (216) 408-1350
John is a partner in Taft’s Compliance, Investigations, and White Collar Defense and Commercial Litigation practices. An experienced first-chair trial lawyer, John has defended companies and individuals in criminal, administrative, and civil trials in state and federal courts throughout the United States. He is adept at selecting jurors, presenting compelling opening and closing arguments, and has conducted direct and/or cross-examinations of almost every type of witness imaginable, from governmental investigators to nationally renowned expert witnesses.
John is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is restricted to the top one percent of trial lawyers, as unanimously recognized by their peers. He is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® (2023 Lawyer of the Year for Criminal Defense: White-Collar), Chambers USA (Band 1), Benchmark Litigation, and The Legal 500. In its most recent guide, Chambers USA noted John “is an excellent lawyer; he has very good white-collar experience and strong judgment.” John has also been named an Ohio Super Lawyer since 2014 and has been repeatedly designated as one of Cleveland’s Top 50 and Ohio’s Top 100 Lawyers.
John has tried approximately 80 cases in his career. His courtroom successes include the defense of a general manager of an international construction company acquitted of all charges stemming from allegations he attempted to illegally procure a $26 million energy-savings contract by bribing a public official. John’s client was the only defendant acquitted of all charges at trial in Northeast Ohio’s largest federal public corruption investigation. John has first-chaired numerous federal and state criminal trials, including those with RICO, fraud, bribery, Hobbs Act, theft, money laundering, and other public corruption-related charges. He has also prevailed at trial in civil product liability matters and in administrative cases brought by OSHA.
In his white collar practice, John has handled internal corporate investigations and corporate compliance initiatives. He has successfully defended companies, company owners, directors, officers, senior management, physicians, architects, accountants, merchant engineers, sales persons, and numerous other private and public officials in criminal, civil, and administrative matters involving the DOJ, FBI, SEC, IRS, EPA, OFAC, HUD, VA, HHS, OSHA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other federal and state investigative agencies. He has secured favorable sentences for his clients, including an over 20-level downward departure in one instance and numerous other departures and variances from potential sentences of incarceration to sentences of probation. Further, John was approved to serve as a monitor by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of a company’s deferred prosecution agreement. But, given the nature of his practice, many of John’s greatest successes are also the least publicized, namely resolving sensitive matters without criminal charges or adverse publicity.
Because of his trial experience, John has often been asked to defend civil matters. His civil practice includes a wide variety of matters, including defending legal malpractice cases, breach of contract actions, business divorces, product liability and personal injury cases, real estate and construction litigation, workplace intentional tort matters, intellectual property disputes, and other civil actions. He has been active in industry-wide chemical and toxic tort litigation involving opioids, vinyl chloride, maritime asbestos, welding rods, lead paint, and other chemicals and products.
John served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, under Prosecuting Attorneys Stephanie Tubbs Jones and William D. Mason. He ascended to the elite Major Trials Unit, where he first-chaired homicide, rape, and public corruption cases, and directed complex grand jury investigations of institutions and individuals allegedly involved in criminal activity. His experience and track record led to his appointment as a special prosecutor in multiple high-profile homicide, public corruption, and organized crime cases.
John’s successes are not limited to the courtroom. He has briefed and prevailed in numerous appellate cases before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court, and multiple Ohio Appellate Districts.
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
Honoree, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (2018 - present)
Lawyer of the Year Honoree, Best Lawyers, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Cleveland (2023)
Honoree, Best Lawyers in America®, Criminal Defense: White Collar (2016 - present)
Honoree, Ohio Super Lawyers (2014 - present) and Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2006, 2007, 2009)
Local Litigation Star Honoree, Benchmark Litigation (2012 - present)
AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell for Litigation, White Collar Crime, and Criminal Law
The Legal 500 United States, 2021 Edition, Recommended Attorney
- Capital University Law School (1996)
- The Ohio State University (1992)
- State - Ohio
- Federal - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Federal - Eastern District of Michigan
- Federal - Northern District of Ohio
- Federal - Southern District of Ohio
RICO, Fraud, Bribery, Public Corruption, Theft, Money Laundering, Health Care Fraud
- Following a nine-day trial in federal court, won acquittal of a general manager of an international construction company charged with conspiracy, Hobbs Act violations, and bribery-related violations of 18 U.S.C. § 666 arising from efforts to obtain a $26 million energy performance contract from a local housing authority. The client was the only person acquitted of all charges arising from involvement in the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal.
- Defended a national mortgage company charged with multimillion-dollar violations of Ohio’s RICO (Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity), theft, money laundering, and record tampering statutes, resulting in dismissal of all state charges within 10 days of indictment.
- Defended notorious public corruption case involving the six-week trial of a rare coin dealer charged with violation of Ohio’s RICO, theft, money laundering, record tampering, and forgery statutes, stemming from the management of two rare coins partly funded by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (i.e., “Coingate” scandal).
- Defended a dentist charged with RICO conspiracy, Hobbs Act bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and health care fraud allegations in a five-week trial in federal court.
- Defended an architect charged with conspiracy, Hobbs Act violations, mail fraud, and violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 in a nine-day trial in federal court involving claims of bribery and theft of budgetary information from the VA.
- Retained at sentencing phase and obtained a 20-level downward departure under federal sentencing guidelines from a substantial sentence of incarceration to a 60-day sentence at a halfway house and probation for an individual who pled guilty to federal money laundering conspiracy for misuse of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utility Service funds.
- Secured declination letter from state prosecutors for a prominent politician facing perjury charges.
- Secured pretrial dismissal of the federal wire fraud indictment of a nationally known hedge fund analyst charged with multimillion-dollar theft and embezzlement.
- Defended the highest-ranking non-elected law enforcement official in Cuyahoga County, who was a target in a state investigation of election violations committed by a long-time elected county sheriff, resulting in no charges.
- Secured dismissal of all criminal charges against a masonry company and its owner charged in relation to the collapse of a parking garage.
- Defended an individual involved in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud involving misuse of corporate funds and secured a downward departure and secured a sentence of probation.
- Defended a prominent local politician in a federal bribery investigation, secured a plea to a one-count information charging obstruction of justice and secured a sentence of probation.
- Defended numerous targets, subjects, and witnesses in federal health care and anti-kickback investigations under 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b.
- Defended an individual involved in a federal money laundering conspiracy involving allegations of misuse of leased vehicles and secured a sentence of probation.
- Defended a mechanical contracting company and its president in a federal bribery investigation arising from an award of U.S. Post Office construction contracts and obtained a downward departure from a sentence of incarceration to a sentence of probation.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar retailer in an action to recover forfeited funds from a state prosecutor’s office and other governmental agencies.
- Represented a construction company in a criminal building code matter in Cleveland Municipal Court, and secured dismissal of all charges.
- Represented an individual under investigation for state felony theft charges, resulting in no charges.
Representation of Professionals
- Represented a former C-suite executive employed by a publicly-traded company in a civil insider-trading investigation conducted by SEC and obtained a no-action letter for the client.
- Represented lawyers at a prominent Midwestern law firm embroiled in securities fraud prosecution, resulting in no charges.
- Represented an attorney alleged to have committed violations of Ohio’s RICO, Tampering with Evidence and Perjury statutes stemming from investigation into activities of public officials in Mahoning County (Youngstown), Ohio, resulting in no charges.
- Represented an attorney alleged to have participated in a bribery scheme related to a potential judicial appointment, resulting in no charges.
- Secured below-guidelines sentence for an accountant alleged to have participated in an $80 million tax fraud associated with a string of theme-based restaurants.
- Secured misdemeanor plea for a prospective attorney facing weapons charges, enabling him to sit for the bar and be sworn into practice upon bar passage.
- Represented a high-ranking sales professional employed by a publicly-traded company in civil insider trading investigation conducted by SEC and obtained no-action letter for the client.
- Defended numerous physicians in investigations for alleged fraudulent billing schemes, resulting in no charges.
- Defended a chiropractor target allegedly involved in a large insurance fraud, resulting in no charges.
- Defended an internal medicine specialist in a federal wire fraud case related to theft from a global drugstore chain and obtained a downward variance from sentence of incarceration to sentence of probation.
- Represented the target in federal investigation of Darknet-based cryptocurrency laundering service/tumbler that allegedly moved more than 350,000 bitcoin (valued at more than $300 million at the time of the prosecution) on behalf of customers, resulting in no charges.
- Represented a Bitcoin ATM company in action to recover its funds that were illegally seized by local police department and prosecuting agency, resulting in recovery of all funds.
- Secured dismissal of a federal indictment alleging conspiracy and Clean Water Act (CWA) violations against the chief engineer of a Great Lakes tug one week before trial commenced.
- Defended a plating company and its president against federal CWA charges for illegal discharges of hazardous materials and obtained a downward departure from sentence of incarceration to sentence of probation.
- Represented the general manager of a $10 billion national fertilizer producer targeted in federal and state CWA investigations stemming from alleged illegal discharge of chemical fertilizer, resulting in no charges.
- Defended a non-profit organization that allegedly violated the Clean Air Act during asbestos removal, resulting in no charges.
- Defended company employees involved in a massive cyanide dump in the Cuyahoga River, resulting in no charges.
Internal Investigations, Witness Representations, and Subpoena-Related Engagements
- Conducted an internal investigation for a Fortune 200 global manufacturer of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, glass, and fiberglass in connection with potential obstruction of justice allegations related to an OSHA investigation.
- Conducted an internal investigation for an international chemicals company, leading to prosecution and conviction of an employee who stole more than $700,000 from the company.
- Conducted an internal investigation for one of North America’s largest plastics compounders and resins distributors in response to a federal investigation stemming from the alleged theft of trade secrets by a subcontractor.
- Conducted an internal investigation of a multi-state electrical contractor with regard to claims that employees were engaged in Hobbs Act and other federal bribery-related offenses.
- Conducted an internal investigation of a multimillion-dollar non-profit agency to determine if public funds were misused in the administration of organization's programs.
- Conducted an internal investigation for an international shipping company regarding allegations that chief engineer employee committed violations of the CWA.
- Represented a CEO embroiled in an Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) investigation, resulting in no charges.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar foundation in a criminal probe related to misuse of foundation’s assets by an outside grantee.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar foundation during an inquiry by Ohio Attorney General's Office regarding its management of another charitable foundation’s asset endowment funds.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a non-profit health care organization regarding solicitation of a bribe from a government employee.
- Represented a Fortune 500 packaging corporation in response to a SEC inquiry regarding its employee retirement portfolio.
- Created corporate ethics, anti-corruption, and compliance plan for construction company facing federal corruption-related charges.
- Created compliance plan addressing all facets of compliance, anti-corruption, and risk management for national automotive repair company.
- Represented multiple entities and individuals in civil investigations launched by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Charitable Law Section related to operations of 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, resulting in closure of investigations and no action towards clients.
- Defended an internal medicine specialist in an Ohio Medical Board proceeding, securing a below-guidelines result that permitted the client to avoid a suspension of the client's medical license.
- Defended law student before Ohio Supreme Court's Board on Character and Fitness regarding weapons charges enabling him to sit for bar exam and be sworn into practice of law after passage.
- Defended student facing expulsion from a prestigious private college in a Title IX hearing, refuted all claims of sexual misconduct, and obtained a modest period of probation for underage alcohol-related activities.
- Obtained removal of a plating company and its owners from the GSA’s Excluded Parties List System, enabling the company to contract with federal agencies.
- Represented a broker/dealer in a FINRA enforcement action, resulting in a no-action letter.
- Defended multiple individuals and corporations in federal and state debarment proceedings.
- Represented a physician in an action against Centers for Medicare Services resulting from suspension of Medicare billing privileges for felony conviction.
- Defended a booster involved in a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation of a football program at a large Midwestern university known for its history of football success.
- Defended a plating company in an administrative action brought by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for environmental violations.
- Represented members of an international union in an action brought against local leadership by a monitoring governmental agency.
- Defended an individual cited by the Ohio bar for the unauthorized practice of law in performing tax-appraisal services.
Non-White Collar Matters
- Represented two international shipping companies in a federal investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1115, Seaman’s Manslaughter statute, resulting no charges.
- Served as pro bono counsel with Thompson Hine attorneys for an individual seeking commutation of his life sentence for federal drug-related charges and obtained clemency for petitioner from President Obama, reducing his sentence from life to one additional year of incarceration.
- Obtained dismissal of state drug-trafficking indictment for pharmaceutical sales executive charged with drug trafficking in bariatric-weight loss medicine. Dismissal was affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Troisi, Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-3582 (Oct. 11, 2022).
- Obtained dismissal of masonry company and its chief executive officer charged by the State of Ohio with a felony-level offense stemming from the collapse of a parking garage being renovated by the company.
- Served as pro bono counsel with a team of Thompson Hine attorneys for a defendant in the Amish beard trimming case, securing a reversal of her conviction for violating the federal Hate Crimes statute.
- Served as pro bono counsel for an individual charged with felonious assault and secured a misdemeanor plea, resulting in a sentence of probation.
- Secured avoidance of state criminal charges for an individual arrested for child endangerment.
- Represented a dentist indicted for illegally issuing prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics, obtaining a reduction from a mandatory prison sentence to a sentence of probation.
- Secured avoidance of federal and state criminal charges for an individual arrested for illegal activities aboard a coast-to-coast flight.
Opioid, Chemical, and Mass Tort
- Defended global medical company in Ohio-based federal and state Opioid litigation.
- Provided national representation for many chemical companies and a trade association in connection with product liability and industry-wide conspiracy claims associated with exposure to vinyl chloride.
- Provided national representation and tried cases for multiple international ship-owners in industry-wide maritime claims stemming from alleged exposure to asbestos.
- Defended an international chemical company in personal injury claims arising from alleged exposure to a pesticide containing Fipronil.
- Represented an international manufacturer of heavy equipment in industry-wide litigation associated with welding rods.
- Obtained dismissal of action for an international chemical company in an asbestos matter where the plaintiff claimed asbestos-contaminated talc led to development of mesothelioma.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims associated with an employee’s workplace injury while making repairs at one of its facilities.
- Represented a global powder coating manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims associated with extruder burns.
- Represented an international tree trimming business in intentional tort claims stemming from the death of an employee in a bucket truck accident.
- Represented a global manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims arising from an employee’s injury while working with molten magnesium.
Product Liability and Personal Injury
- Defended an international manufacturer of chainsaws and cutoff saws against substantial personal injury claims.
- Defended the corporate parent of a franchisee against claims resulting from catastrophic bounce house injury.
- Defended machine tool manufacturers in multiple product liability matters involving substantial personal injury claims.
- Defended multiple dialysis centers in personal injury claims stemming from treatment at various facilities.
- Defended a safety control products manufacturer against multiple claims arising from substantial personal injuries.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in connection with claims arising from the rollover of a sport utility vehicle.
- Defended a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer against claims arising from the rollover of a conversion van.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in connection with claims of negligence arising from a company car accident.
- Defended a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer against a claim regarding injuries allegedly caused by gas struts attached to a hood.
Workplace Accident Investigations
- Investigated an accident involving an employee killed while improperly operating a bucket truck.
- Investigated an accident in which an employee was killed on a job site by a falling tree.
Business, Contract, Patent, Real Estate, and Construction Litigation
- Secured a $3.3 million judgment against a former general manager of a division of a Fortune 500 motion control equipment manufacturer in an intricate employee embezzlement case involving the theft of more than $400,000 in company funds.
- Defended a construction company in an arbitration, securing a favorable result.
- Defended an owner of a dental-related patent in a corporate dissolution action, securing purchase of the patented technology.
- Defended an owner of a significant medical malpractice insurance brokerage, resulting in the successful purchase of the company.
- Defended a nanotechnology company in a breach of contract action.
- Defended a plastics company in a breach of contract action.
- Defended a national electronics retailer in a breach of contract action arising from an alleged breach of the lease for one of its “big box” stores.
- Successfully defended an international tree care company in multiple trials before the Occupational Health and Safety Commission involving workplace deaths and the applicability of logging regulations to an employer engaged in arborist work.
Speeches and Publications
- Roundtable Speaker, Lightfoot White Collar Institute 2023, Washington, DC
Taft Ranks with 69 Attorneys and 29 Practices Recognized in Chambers USA 2023 Guide
Thirty-Six Taft Attorneys Recognized in Ohio Super Lawyers 2023
Benchmark Litigation Names Taft "Highly Recommended Firm;" Recognizes Taft Litigation Attorneys in Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio
Twenty-Three Taft Attorneys Recognized as "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® 2023
- American College of Trial Lawyers
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Member, White-Collar Crime Committee
- Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
- Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
Member, Board of Directors (2020-present)
Chair, Judicial Selection Committee (2018-2020)
- John M. Manos Inn of Court
- Eighth Judicial District Conference