James F. Sweeney

Attorney in Elk Grove, CA
James F. Sweeney’s practice focuses on non-profit organizations and religious institutions law, with particular emphasis on the formation of non-profit and religious organizations, the investigation and defense of clergy misconduct claims, employment claims litigated against non-profit and religious institutions, and the defense of religious liberty and religious freedom rights. He has extensive experience handling litigation matters pertaining to employment law, the defense of sexual abuse and harassment claims against employers, defamation, and land use matters. Mr. Sweeney has a national practice representing charitable organizations, non-profit corporations, and religious institutions in litigation, regulatory, transactional matters, and governmental relations matters. He is widely recognized as an expert in the areas of First Amendment rights. A veteran trial and appellate lawyer, Mr. Sweeney has tried scores of jury trials to verdict, has handled hundreds of preliminary hearings, court trials and indictment inquiries, and has appeared at numerous motion and sentencing hearings, court proceedings, and settlement conferences. He has briefed and argued cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court, and the California Court of Appeal, and he has briefed cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. After practicing law for several years as a state criminal prosecutor, Mr. Sweeney served as a senior advisor and legal consultant to the California State Assembly. Mr. Sweeney represents many non-profit corporations as corporate legal counsel or outside corporate general counsel, offering clients legal advice regarding formation issues, corporate law advice, tax-exemption compliance counseling, and general legal counsel.

Mr. Sweeney has served as Chief Counsel to the California Secretary of State, overseeing the legal operations of a large state agency and serving as the principal attorney for the State of California with regard to the formation of corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies, as well as serving as California’s chief elections law attorney. Among his notable cases involving high-profile clients in that position, he led the appellate litigation team that successfully defended the legislative term limits provisions of the California Constitution before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States. As a prosecutor, Mr. Sweeney notably prosecuted high-profile police misconduct, political corruption, and sexual misconduct jury trials, as well as serving as the district attorney’s liaison to the county grand jury and as the district attorney’s office media spokesperson. Mr. Sweeney has represented clients in some of the most important, high-profile public policy matters over the past decade, notably including the defense of California's term limits law, the recall of former Governor Gray Davis, the defense of religious freedom rights before the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, and the defense of the Catholic Church during the sexual abuse scandal. Mr. Sweeney has also served as independent counsel for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee investigating allegations of official misconduct by former California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.

Mr. Sweeney is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, receiving both a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in physics and a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in history. He received his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1986 and was admitted to the California Bar that same year. Mr. Sweeney is also admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Sweeney serves as Judge Pro Tempore of the Sacramento Superior Court and sits on the court by assignment. He has lectured throughout California and the United States on non-profit corporations and associations law, the protection of religious liberty rights, the defense of religious institutions in clergy sexual abuse cases, and legal ethics.

Mr. Sweeney is a member of the Sacramento and Los Angeles County Bar Associations, the Federal Bar Association, and the National Diocesan Attorneys Association. He is also a member of the faculty of the National Business Institute, teaching continuing legal education seminars on corporations law, legal ethics and non-profit corporations.
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Areas of Law

  • Nonprofit Organizations Law
  • Religious Institutions
  • Election, Campaign and Political Law
  • Appellate Practice
  • Constitutional Law


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  • Meets very high criteria of general ethical standards
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Experience & Credentials



Admission Details

Admitted in 1986, California, U.S. District Court, Northern and Eastern Districts of California, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal and Ninth Circuits
1992, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
1993, U.S. District Court, Central District of California
1993, U.S. Supreme Court and District of Columbia
registered to practice before U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Additional Payment Information
  • Free Initial Consultation
  • Fixed Hourly Rates
  • Fixed Fees Available
  • Law School Attended

    Hastings College of Law, University of California
    Class of 1986

    University Attended

    University of San Francisco
    Class of 1983
    History, summa cum laude

    University of San Francisco
    Class of 1987
    Physics, summa cum laude



    Special Agencies

    Member, San Diego County Republican Central Committee, 1991-1993; President, Federalist Society, 1992-1994; Chairman, Candidate Development Committee; Member, State Central Committee, California Republican Party, 1998-1999; Deputy Member, State Bar of California; Member, District of Columbia Bar; Member, Sacramento County Bar Association; Member, L... More

    Associations & Memberships

    Sacramento County and Los Angeles County Bar Associations; State Bar of California (Deputy Member); District of Columbia Bar; National Diocesan Attorneys Association; Catholic Charities of Sac... More

    Contact Information





    Office Information
    James F. Sweeney
     9245 Laguna Springs Drive, Suite 350,
    Elk Grove, CA 95758


    Sweeney, Greene & Roberts LLP (Elk Grove, California)

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