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John Stevens Berry

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John Stevens Berry Sr. is an attorney and the founder of Berry Law Firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is notable for a number of high-profile cases including the defense of Green Berets in Vietnam.

Early life and military career[edit | edit source]

John Stevens Berry Sr. receiving his Bronze Star at II Field Force in Vietnam

John Stevens Berry Sr. is a native of Onawa, Iowa [1].

In 1960, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Stanford University in Stanford, California. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois in 1965 and was admitted to the Nebraska State Bar in 1965. Berry graduated from the Infantry Officer School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.

As a Captain in Vietnam, Berry was awarded the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor First Class (Gold). He a served as defense counsel with the 1st Infantry Division, the 1st Calvary Division, the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne, and the 5th Special Forces on a temporary basis.

He is the recipient of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm) and the recipient for the FBI Award for Service in the Public Interest.

Green Beret Affair and Those Gallant Men: On Trial in Vietnam[edit | edit source]

John Stevens Berry Sr. with the Green Berets he defended in Vietnam in 1969.

In Vietnam from 1968-1969, Berry was the chief defense counsel for the largest general court martial jurisdiction in Vietnam, II Field Force Vietnam, numbering more than 80,000 soldiers[2]. His work on the defense counsel includes the "Green Beret Affair"[3], where in 1969 members of the Green Berets were charged with the murder of a double agent.

Berry went on to write on his first-hand experiences as a lawyer fighting in a combat zone in Those Gallant Men: On Trial in Vietnam [4]. It was published May 1, 1984. The book examines the charges filed against the Green Berets and maneuvers through the legal proceedings of the trail, offering an insider's view through stories and explanations of the dynamics and strategy of litigation between the CIA, US Army, and the Green Berets during the Vietnam War.

Law career[edit | edit source]

Following his military service, Berry was briefly associated with Henry B. Rothblatt Offices in New York from 1970 through 1971. There, he tried a number of high-profile cases before returning to Lincoln, Nebraska to continue regional practice primarily in the areas of criminal defense, drug crimes, driving while intoxicated, white collar crime, state and federal felony practice, veterans appeals and murder. In 2000, Berry's son, John Berry Jr., left the army to pursue a law degree and join Berry Law Firm. His son Rory Berry also works at the law firm.

In 1986, Berry was the Civilian Defense Counsel for one of the biggest drug busts in Japan's history [5].

Berry has appeared in court in 24 states and two foreign countries. He has been invited to lecture on issues regrading criminal defense in the military at the Judge Advocate General's School at the University of Virginia and conducted seminars in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri for practicing lawyers. In addition, he has achieved the distinguished AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell and was selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers. Berry Law Firm is listed in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys[4].

In 2014, Berry co-authored the book The Twelfth Victim: The Innocence of Caril Fugate in the Starkweather Murder Rampage with Ohio lawyer Linda Battisti on Caril Ann Fugate, the teen girlfriend who accompanied spree killer Charles Starkweather during the murders of 1958[6]. The book has been recommended by Steven Drizin, attorney for Brendan Dassey, whose case gained international attention due to the Netflix series Making a Murderer, which exposed the prosecution's coercion of Dassey resulting in a false confession [7].

He also is a member of Melvin Belli Society[8], and a fellow on the American Board of Criminal Defense Lawyers [9]. In addition, he is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws [10].

Personal life[edit | edit source]

While practicing law, Berry hosted "The John Stevens Berry Show" for more than decade, first airing on KLIN and later on KZUM[4]. The last day of The John Stevens Berry Show, August 1, 1997, was declared John Stevens Berry Day by the former governor of Nebraska, Ben Nelson.

Berry is an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes, receiving his first Holmes book in fourth grade. He is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars[11], a Sherlockian group formed in 1934.

Works[edit | edit source]

  • Berry, John Stevens (1973). Darkness Of Snow. San luis Obispo, CA: Solo [12].
  • Berry, John Stevens (1984). Those Gallant Men: On Trial in Vietnam. Novato, CA: Presidio Press. ISBN 0891411860.
  • Berry, John Stevens & Battisti, Linda M. (2014). The Twelfth Victim: The Innocence of Caril Fugate in the Starkweather Murder Rampage. Addicus Books. ISBN 1938803655

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "John Stevens Berry Jr". Addicus Books. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  2. "John Stevens Berry Jr". Addicus Books. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  3. "The Green Beret affair". McCook Gazette. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "About Berry Law Firm | Criminal Defense Attorneys in Lincoln". Berry Law Firm. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  5. "John Stevens Berry Sr. | Lincoln Criminal Defense Attorney". Berry Law Firm. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  6. "All About Books: Interview with author and lawyer John Stevens Berry | netnebraska.org". netnebraska.org. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  7. Wilson, Kristian. "Brendan Dassey's Lawyer Recommends These 17 Books". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  8. "Melvin M. Belli Society". www.bellisociety.org. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  9. "Veterans Benefit Attorney John S. Berry Sr. PTSD Lawyers Berry Law Firm". PTSD Lawyers. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  10. "John Stevens Berry Sr., Lincoln Nebraska Attorney on NORML Legal Committee". lawyers.norml.org. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  11. Star, JEFF KORBELIK / Lincoln Journal. "The game is afoot (again) for Sherlock Holmes". JournalStar.com. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  12. Davis, Lloyd M. (1985). Contemporary American Poetry: A Checklist : Second Series, 1973-1983. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810818293. 


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