Direct Dial: 480-687-3239 | E-mail: Jon@PierceColeman.com
Jon has been practicing law since 1993 and has practiced municipal law for over 20 years. Jon joins Pierce Coleman in August 2021 as part of the firm’s municipal law team.
Jon has broad and deep experience and expertise in all facets of municipal law, including public records, open meetings and conflicts of interest, land use and zoning, economic development, civil litigation, water law, City Clerk matters personnel and employment law, elections law, utilities law, complex transactions and agreements, intergovernmental relations, ordinance drafting, legislative affairs and regulatory matters. Jon’s outstanding communication skills and ability to evaluate all relevant circumstances are the basis for his ability to create a solid rapport and relationship with decision makers. He believes that a quintessential function of a municipal legal department is to understand the operations and operational needs of the various departments and functions of the organization in order to provide timely, useful and useable legal advice.
Jon has worked directly with mayors and city councils, boards and commissions, municipal management, department heads and human resources on all of the municipal law issues that face a full-service city. He has a reputation of providing consistent, reliable, well-reasoned, useable advice and will offer comprehensive evaluation of situations from a policy, business and legal standpoint to provide innovative means and a unique “getting-to-yes” problem solving style that assists policy and decision makers accomplish their goals and objectives.
Jon has also been a member of the U.S. military for over 20 years as part of the Arizona Army National Guard, and has served four combat deployments to the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as numerous domestic operations deployments since 2001.
Prior to joining Pierce Coleman, Jon was the City of Prescott City Attorney since January, 2013. While at the City of Prescott, Jon’s legal acumen and problem solving abilities were put to the test on numerous occasions. After the loss of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2013, Jon took the lead role in benefits claims litigation as well as public appearances and outreach to obtain fair coverage in the media to explain the City’s position. During his tenure in Prescott, the City was faced with several other major challenges and opportunities, including a substantial sober-living group home presence, several federal civil rights lawsuits, a charter city challenge to state law limitations on local elections, a revision of the city sign code and many other important local law matters. The sober living group home zoning and regulatory ordinances that he crafted not only withstood two HUD/DOJ investigations, but also had a huge impact on the industry in Prescott. Group home numbers decreased from around 200 homes in 2013 to fewer than 20 currently.
In 2013, Jon was first chair on a state takings and challenge to City authority lawsuit where the City achieved a dismissal. Jon also defended the City in the subsequent appeal that upheld the trial court’s decision. In 2016, Jon was second chair on a two week federal civil rights and first amendment trial where the City obtained a defense verdict. Jon’s proactive approach to problem solving and providing preventative legal advice has helped Prescott avoid significant claims in the areas of employment law, public records, open meetings and police use of force. In 2014 and 2020, Jon was the lead attorney on charter city protection cases and has provided election law advice to the City Clerk over the course of four municipal election cycles.
In addition to litigation and claims experience, Jon has extensive experience with economic development, land use and zoning and general development law. He has led the City negotiating teams a large hotel project on City-owned land, large scale annexations, and a development deal that will provide the City with nearly 500 acres of recreational open space and 400 acres of municipal airport expansion area.
During his tenure with Prescott, Jon deployed to the Middle East where he oversaw a team of 12 senior officers and NCOs that dealt with US Embassies and the highest military and civilian leaders in numerous Arab countries. His leadership was a critical factor in the success of our operations and the safe return of all of team members.
Prior to arriving in Prescott in 2013, he deployed to Afghanistan where he had the privilege of leading over 100 Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine service members, as well as DoD and State Department civilians at the Afghan National Terrorism Court. His team performed every facet of the Court’s operations, including operating a forensics lab, training Afghan partners, and conducting camp security and physical plant operations. During his tenure, the court out-worked and out-performed all prior court operations in both quantity and quality, and reached an all-time high in the number of cases handled as well as the conviction rate.
Jon’s other municipal law experience include positions as Chief Deputy and City Attorney for the City of Glendale for over seven years. In that role Jon played a significant part in large sports stadium deals, fast growth and when three city council members and the city clerk were indicted.
Jon was also the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Sedona for five years where he performed all aspects of a municipal attorney, including substantial land development issues, the successful handling of over 15 eminent domain cases.
Jon was elected by his fellow city attorneys as President of the Arizona City Attorney Association in 2017-2018.
In private practice, Jon’s practice focused on municipal law, land use and zoning, development and elections law. He was involved in significant land use, rezoning and elections law cases in Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Goodyear and Sedona, including representing three municipalities in litigation against Maricopa County on a conflict regarding enforcement of Luke Air Force Base surrounding land use regulations, and the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation regarding a municipal law opinion that was submitted to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for successful inclusion of land into the reservation system.
Jon received his B.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1985, his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 1993 and his M.P.A. with honors from the Arkansas State in 2018. Jon is admitted to practice law in Arizona, the Federal District Court of Arizona, the 9th Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.