James L. Thompson

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James L. Thompson

James Thompson is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers (restricted to the top 1% of trial lawyers in the United States). He concentrates his practice in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation (including ad valorem tax appeals) in addition to civil litigation involving complex real estate and business/commercial disputes, and has done some mediation as well.  He led Miller, Miller & Canby's litigation department for over 25 years and has taught trial advocacy. He has been a regular lecturer in national eminent domain litigation seminars conducted by ALI-ABA, as well as in the State of Maryland where he has lectured in CLE activities for lawyers, appraisers and right-of-way agents.

In 2011, Mr. Thompson traveled to Beijing China with a group of scholars and lawyers to exchange ideas as a panelist on property rights in the Brigham Kanner Property Rights Conference. In addition, he has authored a variety of articles involving eminent domain and has worked with the Maryland legislature to reform eminent domain laws and protect the rights of property owners. He has been elected as the Maryland member for the Owner’s Counsel of America restricted to the top eminent domain lawyer in each state.


In 2018, Mr. Thompson was recognized with the President's Citation for Outstanding Service by the Montgomery County Bar Association. He was also selected as the Senior Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland State Bar Association. Mr. Thompson is a named Leadership in Law Award winner (by the Daily Record) and has been a named Super Lawyer in the state of Maryland every year since 2007. He has also been named a Best Lawyer in Maryland every year for the past 13 years, and was named the Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" in 2013. He has also been named to Who’s Who for Business and Professionals and given a top AV rating by the Martindale Hubbell Law Directory.


Several of the notable cases he has tried include cases of first impression:


  • Mayor and City Council v. George Valsamaki, 397 Md. 222 (2007).  John Murphy and Mr. Thompson represented George Valsamaki in his successful challenge to the quick-take condemnation of the Magnet Bar at 1924 North Charles Street in Baltimore City for urban renewal / economic development. This was the first successful taking challenge to a Baltimore City condemnation in history.
  • IRS vs. Browning in the United States Tax Court (109 Tax Ct. 303 1997), which required the IRS to permit charitable tax deductions in connection with the donation of agricultural land preservation easements in Howard County at full fair market value.
  • GenOn vs. Supervisor of Assessments of Charles County, (2015) Maryland Tax Court (MTC) No’s. 10-RP-CH-0743, 0778; 11-PP-OO-1343, 1396; 13-PP-OO-0400(1), 0415, a case where he successfully defended the $1.5 billion valuation of the Morgantown Electric Generating Plant for Charles County against efforts by GenOn to reduce its assessed value by more than 50%.
  • Chod vs. Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, Civil No. 398704-V (2015), a case where we challenged the legality of the ”Rain Tax” as adopted and applied by Montgomery County, Maryland.  The trial court (Judge Rupp) ruled that it was invalid on its face and as applied.  The case was appealed by the County and it was settled and vacated.
  • Montgomery County vs. Polinger, 217 WL 2482556 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. June 8, 2017) a case involving the improper imposition of a golf course catch-up tax on our client when she sold the course to a real estate developer.  The court ordered a refund and awarded a judgment with interest exceeding one million dollars to our client.

In addition to his legal work as a trial lawyer, he has served the legal community at large by his service with the county, state and national bar associations. Mr. Thompson has served as President of the Montgomery County Bar Association, President of the Maryland State Bar Association, 1999-2000, (representing over 20,000 lawyers) and was active in the American Bar Association in 2001 to 2003 where he served in The ABA House of Delegates. Currently he is serving on a select committee appointed by Maryland’s Court of Appeals (chaired by Chief Judge Bell) the Committee on Public Trust & Confidence. He has been recognized for his excellence in serving the interest of justice by receiving the Century of Service Award (recognizing the 32 most outstanding judges and lawyers in Montgomery County, Maryland during the 20th Century) and by receipt of the Peter D. Dirito Endowment Award (recognizing his role in the successful effort to establish a Southern Division of the Federal Court in Maryland).


With his record of legal experience and proven results, maturity and judgment and leadership within the bar and judicial system generally, he brings ideal talents and abilities to client representation.

Several of Mr. Thompson's most notable lectures include:

  • "Experts in Litigation Series," University of Maryland Law School (Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, Inc. -- MICPEL)
  • "Hot Tips in Litigation Lectures," University of Baltimore Law School -- MICPEL)
  • "Litigation Skills," (Practical Law Institute)
Several additional lectures include ones in Federal Practice and for the Montgomery County Bar Association pertaining to trial work in a variety of practice areas.

View Representative Cases >>

Practice Areas
  • Appeals
    Business & Commercial Litigation
    Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law
    Estates & Trust Litigation
    Maryland Property Tax Appeals
    Real Estate Litigation
    Tax Litigation
bar admissions
  • Maryland


    U.S. Court of Military Appeals

    U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

    U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

    U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations
  • American College of Trial Lawyers

    Owners Counsel of America (Eminent Domain Lawyers)

    Affiliate Member, Institute for Property Taxation (IPT)

    Maryland State Bar Association (Past President)

    Bar Association of Montgomery County (Past President)

    American Inns of Court (Counselor, LXI)

    American Bar Association (Past Delegate of ABA House of Delegates)

    Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference

    Maryland Bar Foundation, Inc.

    American Bar Foundation

  • Yale University, B.A.

    University of Virginia, LL.B.

Honors and Awards
  • 2018 President's Citation for Outstanding Service, Montgomery County Bar Association

    2018 Maryland State Bar Association Senior Lawyer of the Year

    Century of Service Award (recognizing the 32 most outstanding judges and lawyers in Montgomery County)

    Member, American College of Trial Lawyers

    Winner, Leadership in Law Award

    Named by Super Lawyers magazine as top 5% of Litigation Attorneys in the state of Maryland every year since 2007

    Peter D. Dirito Endowment Award (recognition for role in the successful effort to establish a Southern Division of the Federal Court in Maryland)

    Designated as Top Lawyer in Baltimore and Washington, DC for past five years

    Received 2013  "Lawyer of the Year" Award by Best Lawyers in the area of Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law

    Received "AV" rating by Martindale Hubbell Law Directory

    Elected as the Maryland member for the Owner's Counsel of America (restricted to the top eminent domain lawyer in each state)

Appellate Decisions

Mayor v. City Council of Baltimore City v. Valsamaki, 397 Md. 222 (2007)

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Johnson v. Price, 191 F. Supp. 2d 754 (2007)

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Brown v. Hovatter, 525 F. Supp.2d 754 (2007)

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Brown v. Hovatter, 516 F. Supp.2d. 547 (2007)

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College Bowl, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 394 Md. 482 (2006)

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City of Baltimore Development Corp. v. Carmel Realty Associates, 395 Md. 299 (2006)

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havePower, LLC v. General Electric Co., 256 F. Supp. 2d 402 (2003)

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havePower, LLC v. General Electric Co., 183 F. Supp. 2d 779 (2002)

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Buxton v. Buxton, 363 Md. 634 (2001)

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Browning v. C.I.R., 109 T.C. No. 16 (1997)

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Supervisor of Assessments of Montgomery County v. Asbury Methodist Home, Inc., 313 Md. 614 (1988)

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Supervisor of Assessment of Montgomery County v. Asbury Methodist Home, Inc., 72 Md. App. 352 (1987)

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Lerner v. Lerner, 306 Md. 771 (1986)

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Smith v. Edwards, 292 Md. 60 (1981)

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Smith v. Edwards, 46 Md. App. 452 (1980)

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Stauffer Const. Co., v. Tate Engineering, Inc., 44 Md. App. 240 (1979)

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Shuman v. Sherman, 356 F. Supp. 911 (1973)

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Citizens Bank & Trust Co. of Md. v. U.S., 344 F. Supp. 866 (1972)

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The guy's a wizard when it comes to condemnation...five out of five stars...

Tom Tracy
Regional Counsel
Toll Brothers, Inc.

"Miller, Miller & Canby's Jim Thompson has my eternal appreciation and respect. He exhibited great vision, assembled a superb team of land planners, appraisers and others to support our case, and stuck with it until he got it done. In the end, thanks to his experience and innovation, our property yielded a better return than I could ever have imagined."

Alan Bruzee
Long & Foster