Jill Thomas

Jill Thomas is “Of Counsel” with JAG Defense.  She has a wealth of criminal trial experience with over 100 litigated trials and with over 25 years of JAG military service.  While she was an active duty JAG, Ms. Thomas spent three years as an Area Defense Counsel defending clients in administrative (boards) proceedings and courts-martial.  In that role, she litigated more than 40 criminal bench and jury trials, which included cases involving drug offenses, child pornography, theft, child sexual abuse, rape/sexual assault, and domestic violence.  A formidable defense attorney, she zealously represented hundreds of military members around the world in matters ranging from minor administrative actions (reprimands, counselings, non-judicial punisments) to courts-martial.  Ms. Thomas was ranked in the top 5% of Area Defense Counsels in the Air Force and #1 in the Western Circuit.  As her supervisor commented, “ADCs don’t come any better!” and “a World Class litigator.”   

After a highly successful career as a defense attorney, the Air Force assigned her to be a Circuit Trial Counsel for the next three years prosecuting the most complex and challenging cases worldwide.  After she separated from active duty, Ms. Thomas joined the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor and spent 12 years investigating and prosecuting cases involving gangs, cartels (drug trafficking and firearms), child exploitation (sex trafficking, sextortion, sex tourism, and online exploitation), terrorism (domestic and international), corruption, fraud, and money laundering.  With that vast criminal litigation experience, Ms. Thomas was competitively selected to become a reserve Military Judge where she served for a total of five years on the bench.  She now serves as the Air Force’s Director of TRIALS where she oversees the training of new JAGS in the area of trial advocacy. 

Ms. Thomas brings the strategic advantage of a 360-degree view of the military justice system, having served as a defense counsel, prosecutor, and judge.  Finely attuned to the dynamic trial process, she is considered by colleagues to be an unflappable, calm-in-a-storm litigator.  She takes a client-centered and careful approach, walking clients through each stage of the process. 

Ms. Thomas is an active member of the Florida Bar. She is also licensed to practice before the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and military courts worldwide.  

Ms. Thomas grew up in Shelby Township, Michigan. She graduated from Carthage College with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and History and earned her Juris Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law.  In her spare time, Ms. Thomas enjoys ping pong, golfing, March Madness, hiking, reading, traveling, and learning languages. 

Military Experience

  • Captain, U.S. Air Force, 1998 – 2004
  • Major, U.S. Air Force, 2004-2010
  • Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserves, 2010 – 2023
  • Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserves, 2023 – Present

Military Education

  • Air and Space Basic Course, 1998
  • Squadron Officer School, (by correspondence), 2000
  • Air Command and Staff College (by correspondence), 2005
  • Air War College (by correspondence), 2013

Bar Admissions

  • Florida
  • California (inactive)

Court Admissions

  • United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

Legal Teaching

  • Teaching Reservists In Advanced Litigation Skills (TRIALS) Team Instructor, 2008-Present; Director, 2022-Present
  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and Sexual Assault Instructor for various trainings including TDAC (Trial Defense Advocacy Course) – 2012-2014; 2004-2007
  • Office of Professional Development and Training (OPDAT) Trial Advocacy Instructor (Indonesia), June 2013
  • Adjunct Instructor, Campbell University, Criminal Justice, 1999-2000

Volunteer Legal Work

  • National Ethics Mock Trial Competition Judge, 2007 – 2009, 2014, 2017
  • Moot Court Competition Judge, 2008; Moot Court High School Team Coach, 2017
  • Neighborhood Court Panelist (training), Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, 2016


Stetson University College of Law, 1997

  • Juris Doctor, Cum Laude

Carthage College, 1993

  • Bachelor of Arts degree in history and Spanish, Magna Cum Laude
  • NCAA women’s intercollegiate basketball and softball               

Select Publications and Presentations

  • Chapter co-author, Child Death Investigations in the Military, G.W. Medical Publishing, Inc., 2007
  • Official travel to Germany, England, and Indonesia to teach trial advocacy
  • Child Exploitation presentation in Spanish at Cyber Crimes Conference in Costa Rica


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