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John William Thornton

About me

John W. Thornton has been defending those accused of crime in Santa Cruz for over twenty years. Upon graduation from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1990, Mr. Thornton was hired as an attorney at at the biggest criminal defense firm in Santa Cruz County. Prior to graduation, Mr. Thornton had worked as both a defense investigator and law clerk for the same firm, Biggam, Christensen, and Minsloff. While there, Mr. Thornton handled thousands of cases, from citations for trespassing to accusations of murder.

In 1997, Mr. Thornton started his own firm, located in the Sash Mill complex in downtown Santa Cruz. He is a member of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense Bar, and the Santa Cruz County Bar Association. Mr. Thornton is a past president of the Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense Bar.  Mr. Thornton's practice is limited to criminal defense in Santa Cruz County.



Practice areas


  1. Criminal Defense: 50%
  2. DUI & DWI: 50%



Retainer (always)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

9 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Vicki Asunta Jensen

    I endorse this lawyer. I have know JT since I was a law clerk in Santa Cruz Public Defender's Office and he was one of the Attorneys. He has ALWAYS been a dedicated intelligent, hard working and amazing attorney. Not only is he a great attorney he is a wonderful person as well. The best you could get in Santa Cruz!


    Vicki Jensen DUI & DWI Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

  • Lynn Gorelick

    John is a fierce advocate for his clients. John truly cares about the people he is representing. John keeps up with current case law and legislation and is highly respected. I would, without any hesitation, recommend John to anyone withy a DUI or other criminal law case.


    Lynn Gorelick DUI & DWI Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

303 Potrero #30
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
AttorneyLaw Office of John W. Thornton1997 - Present
Deputy Public DefenderBiggam, Christensen, & Minsloff1990 - 1997
Law ClerkBiggam, Christensen, & Minsloff1988 - 1990
InvestigatorBiggam, Christensen, & Minsloff1986 - 1987
Association namePosition nameDuration
Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense Bar AssociationBoard of Directors2014 - Present
Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense Bar AssociationPast President1997 - Present
California Attorneys for Criminal JusticeAttorney Member1997 - Present
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersAttorney Member1997 - Present
Santa Cruz County Bar AssociationAttorney Member1997 - Present
California DUI Lawyers AssociationAttorney Member1997 - Present
California Public Defenders AssociationAttorney Member1990 - Present
Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense BarBoard MemberN/A
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Santa Clara University School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1990
University of California - Santa CruzPsychologyBA - Bachelor of Arts1987
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Public Defenders OfficeAll Things DUI/DMV2015
Continuing Legal EducationLicense Consequences of DUI Arrests and Convictions2013
Santa Cruz County Bar Association MCLE RoundupEthics in Criminal Law2002