There is infinitely more to Omaha attorney James Martin Davis than most people know. On the surface, Davis is able to sit comfortably in his Farnam St. office as one of the best criminal attorneys in the Midwest, having won the most criminal cases in Nebraska. However, once probed for a glimpse into his life, it’s clear he’s experienced more than several men of his age put together. He knew becoming a lawyer was his calling from a young age.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a lawyer,” Davis says. “Criminal law is the most exciting part of the law. It’s the non-boring dimension of the practice of law. The cases are interesting, the stakes are high and it involves the concept of liberty, which is an idea that is very important to me. It should be to everybody.”
Davis spent three years working as a Secret Service agent, which took him everywhere from the White House to Chicago. One day he’d be protecting the President of the United States, the First Lady or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the next, posing as a Mafioso named “Jimmy D” to bust counterfeit operations. He survived combat in the Vietnam War then powered through quintuple bypass surgery, a heart attack, and the untimely death of his only son.
What makes Davis so successful comes down to a very simple philosophy: he works for the people.
“I really appreciate them,” he says. “I have a lot of clients. I think there are two reasons for my success. Number one, I’ve been doing it for so long; number two, I’ve won more criminal cases than anyone in Nebraska because I defend the Constitution of the United States.”
While Davis has always lived an adrenaline-charged existence, ultimately having a family pulled him back a little. He recalls a funny incident when he was still working as a Secret Service agent in Chicago, which involved his wife, Polo.
“My wife hated it. I was doing an undercover operation in Cicero, Illinois where Al Capone was headquartered,” he recalls. “I had to do an undercover buy with these people to purchase stolen government securities. They thought I was Mafioso. I met them in a restaurant in Cicero. I had agents covering me, but I saw one of the people at the table had a gun. The informant was there, which is how this came to be. The informant calls me later that night so I could do a report in terms of how it went down. It’s 1 o’clock in the morning, my wife is sleeping and I get the call. And I’m taking notes and I say, ‘Yeah, I saw the guy with the .38 in his belt.’ Then I say, ‘Which one had a hand grenade?’ Then later on I said, ‘Where was the machine gun?’ I go back to bed and I hear my wife sniffling or something. She was pregnant. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ She said, ’You’re never going to see your first baby born [laughs].’”
Ironically, the day their daughter Tori was born, that particular case was the front page of The Chicago Daily News. Although he no longer works in the exciting world of the Secret Service, his life is anything but dull. This year he represented former Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey and former local news broadcaster Michael Scott, which were two high-profile cases. He took both of them to a jury and got a not guilty verdict on both counts. He has been listed as a “Super Lawyer,” which is a rating system that recognizes attorneys who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. He’s ranked among The Top 100 Lawyers and a member of the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. However, it’s the local recognition he appreciates the most.
“ This recognition is more important to me than the others,” he says. “While those three are important to me, the recognition I am getting through the Reader is a lot more gratifying than the recognition I get from my peers.
“I am very grateful to the people of Omaha to recognize me,” he adds. “I am here for the people. I went to work for corporate law firms, but that was not my interest. My interest is to represent the people.”