James T. Tucker Of Counsel

     

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James Tucker focuses his practice on representation of tribes, general litigation and appellate work, insurance defense, employment defense, voting rights and election law, and governmental relations, including legislative and policy work. With more than 20 years of employment law litigation experience, he emphasizes preventive law and counseling and advice as ways to reduce the risk that employers face. Jim has litigated in federal and state courts in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and the District of Columbia, resulting in published opinions in Arizona, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Since 1999, Jim’s representation of governmental entities in Arizona has included performing general litigation work for Maricopa County; providing counseling advice to the Maricopa County Elections Department of the County Recorder’s Office on federal voting laws; and representing the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, and Technology in Coconino County in redistricting and in administrative proceedings with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jim served as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate (JAG) in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. A combat veteran, his military distinctions include the Air Medal and the Aerial Achievement Medal for service in the U.S. Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. A prolific author and speaker, Jim teaches and is a frequent panelist on voting rights law. Jim served as judicial law clerk to Maurice M. Paul, Chief U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Florida.

Pro Bono Work on Behalf of Native Americans
Jim has a strong commitment to pro bono service, and has amassed an impressive body of work with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). He serves as the Pro Bono Voting Rights Counsel to NARF, providing legal services on public policy work and in voting rights litigation. He was co-counsel with NARF in Toyukak v. Treadwell, the first language-assistance case under the Voting Rights Act (VRA) fully tried to a decision since 1980. He also served as co-counsel with NARF and the ACLU’s Alaska affiliate in Nick v. Bethel, the first successful case brought on behalf of Alaska Natives under the VRA’s language and voter assistance provisions. Other cases in which he has served as co-counsel with NARF include Samuelson v. Treadwell, an enforcement action under section 5 of the VRA; Alaska v. United States, a constitutional challenge to section 5; and as amicus curiae counsel for briefs filed on behalf of Alaska Natives in Shelby County v. Holder and Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, constitutional challenges to section 5. In 2014, the firm selected Jim as its pro bono attorney of the year for his work on the Toyukak case.

Jim is one of the founding members of the Native American Voting Rights Coalition (NAVRC), for which he is coordinating a 2017−2018 series of 12 field hearings throughout Indian Country on barriers that impair the rights of Native voters to register to vote, cast a ballot and have an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), a three-year appointment by the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau in which the 32 NAC members provide input on race, ethnicity and other categories for improved census operations, survey and data collection methods. His service on the NAC focuses on addressing cultural, geographic and linguistic barriers that Alaska Natives and American Indians face in participating in the decennial census and annual census surveys, as well as the historical distrust that Native Americans have toward the federal government. 

Jim serves as Chair of the Indian Law Section of the State Bar of Arizona for 2018-2019.

Areas of Focus

Federal Indian Law
Jim has extensive legislative and policy experience working with Native American organizations on behalf of tribal governments and Alaska Native corporations. Much of his work has focused on achieving equal access for Native peoples to the political process through lobbying, grassroots organizing, education and litigation. For much of the past decade, Jim has represented tribal governments and individuals in landmark voting rights cases in Alaska.

Employment Law
Jim skillfully partners with human resources personnel to adopt practical and cost-effective resolutions to challenging situations. He offers candid, real-world advice that allows employers to make informed decisions about issues they confront daily. Committed to setting the standards for excellence in employment practices, Jim brings his dedication and experience to every client, offering the highest quality and value in all of his work.

Jim collaborates with employers in responding to charges of discrimination, including investigations, preparing position statements, and representation in agency and court proceedings, litigation and appeals. He represents employers on matters under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the WARN Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and other federal and state employment laws. He also helps employers protect their proprietary information and assets through preparation and enforcement of non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, confidentiality agreements and executive agreements.

Voting Rights
Jim teaches courses on voting rights and elections law. He was a senior trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section. While at the Justice Department, he succeeded in securing the first takeover of a county’s election system because of systemic violations of the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. He also served as trial counsel in a case later decided by the United States Supreme Court. In 2006, he worked for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) to secure the 25-year reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). He has testified before Congress on six occasions (including twice in 2018) and before other bodies, including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Jim served as policy counsel for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, and was co-counsel with the ACLU and Native American Rights Fund in Nick v. Bethel, Alaska, the first successful language-assistance case by Alaska Natives under the Voting Rights Act. More recently, his Alaska Native clients prevailed in the first language assistance case fully tried to a decision since 1980, following a two-week trial in federal court. Jim also served as counsel for Nevada voters and civil rights groups enforcing section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act against the State of Nevada and its Department of Motor Vehicles. The author of nearly two dozen journal articles and book chapters, most on voting, he recently published The Battle over Bilingual Ballots: Language Minorities and Political Access under the Voting Rights Act (Ashgate, 2009) and a book chapter in The Most Fundamental Right: Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act (Indiana University, 2012).

Representative Matters

Employment and EPLI
Lundy v. AirTouch Communications, Inc., 195 F. Supp.2d 25 (D. Ariz. 1999): Represented the defendant employer in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a senior executive. The federal court granted our motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by a release and severance agreement that he signed prior to termination. We convinced plaintiff’s counsel to drop his appeal without any further payment beyond what the plaintiff received as part of his severance.

Graybar Electric v. Silver State Electric Supply Company (Maricopa Cty Super. Ct. 1999): Represented the plaintiff in an unfair competition case against a former sales employee and his new employer. The former employee violated his contractual and common law duties by using confidential trade secret including the plaintiff’s client lists and pricing information to compete against the plaintiff. After a bench trial, the court awarded the plaintiff its damages and attorneys’ fees and costs and entered an injunction ordering the former employee and the competitor from further violations.

Schertz v. AT&T Corp. (D. Ariz. 2003): Represented the defendant employer in the plaintiff’s disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although the plaintiff, a call-center employee, had obtained a probable cause determination from the EEOC, the federal court granted our motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff failed to list her discrimination claims against her former employer as an asset when she filed for bankruptcy, and therefore the court concluded that her claims were barred by judicial estoppel.

Eidenbock v. Charles Schwab (D. Ariz. 2006): Represented the defendant employer in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit brought by several workers over 40 years of age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. We filed a successful motion to dismiss all of the claims, in which the federal court agreed with us that the plaintiffs failed to timely file their lawsuit after receiving their right-to-sue letters. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit subsequently affirmed the judgment.

EPLI matters for insurance carriers including Chartis, Fireman’s Fund, RSUI, and Travelers: Has represented several insured employers in employment discrimination matters before federal and state agencies and in courts in Arizona and Nevada. Successful representations have included investigation of allegations of discrimination, preparation of position statements resulting in no-cause findings, early resolution of matters with probable cause determinations at the time of referral, and prompt resolution of matters for “nuisance value.”

Voting Rights
Nick v. City of Bethel (D. Alaska 2010): Represented plaintiffs in the first successful case brought in Alaska under the federal Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs were limited-English proficient Yup’ik-speaking Alaska Native voters who were denied language assistance and voter assistance in election-related activities by state and local election officials. The federal court granted our motion for a preliminary injunction, directing the defendants to take several steps designed to bring them into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The case subsequently settled after the defendants agreed to provide the plaintiffs with all of the relief they were seeking, including payment of nearly $1 million in their attorneys’ fees and costs.

Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder (2009): Lead author and attorney of record in an amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court by the Native American Rights Fund on behalf of Alaska Natives supporting the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, and Technology, Coconino County, AZ (2005): Represented vocational school district in northern Arizona to address concerns raised by the United States in its objection to the district’s decennial redistricting plan. His efforts led to the adoption of one of the first alternative voting systems in Arizona, providing two residency districts for Navajo voters in a five-member district where Navajos comprised 40 percent of the district’s population using a limited voting system. The Department found that the residency districts addressed its concerns and pre-cleared the plan he drew.

Georgia v. Ashcroft (D.D.C. 2002): Represented the United States in defending against a declaratory judgment action under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acr seeking judicial approval or “preclearance” of Georgia’s state senate redistricting plan. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the United States, but was reversed by the Supreme Court on appeal in a 5-4 decision. The Supreme Court’s construction of Section 5 in Georgia v. Ashcroft was corrected in Section 5 of the 2006 amendments to the Voting Rights Act (Pub. L. No. 109-246, 121 Stat. 580-81) to reflect an interpretation consistent with the trial court’s ruling.

Roanoke County, VA v. United States (D.D.C. 2000): Lead attorney responsible for investigating bailout action, negotiation of bailout terms, and submission of pleadings and proposed orders in which the United States consented to the county’s bailout.