Colonel John J. Canham, Jr.


Practice Areas

Colonel John J. “Jay” Canham, Jr. is an experienced and accomplished criminal defense attorney who is of counsel to Feldmann Nagel Cantafio & Song PLLC. Jay has active duty military experience in the U.S. Marine Corps, and, while active, served as a Staff Judge Advocate for the I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, USMC Recruit Depot. As in-house general counsel to the commander, he provided advice on criminal law, administrative separations, ethics, operational and international law, major investigations, contract law, labor law, issues of officer misconduct, public relations, congressional/special interest inquiries, and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Prior to this, he served as Regional/Senior Defense Counsel for the military’s Legal Service Support Section, West Coast/ Western Pacific, where he was responsible for supervising and training over 150 defense attorneys while trying a full case load of crimes involving murder, rape, child sexual abuse, and aggravated assault. He also has extensive experience as a former prosecutor and defense attorney for Marine and Navy personnel accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses in Okinawa, Japan and the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, CA. In addition, Jay served as a military law instructor, teaching over 2,000 attorneys, officers, and paralegals in the areas of trial advocacy, Fourth and Fifth Amendment law, and evidence. He was the head of the Evidence Division between 1991 and 1992.

Jay served a seven-month combat tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. As legal counsel for the Crisis Response Team at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA, he coordinated counter-terrorist measures among local police departments and federal agencies during Operation Iraqi Freedom I. He has been involved in the litigation of over 500 criminal cases, 110 of which were criminal trials, and 19 of which were fully contested felony jury trials. He has also been involved in the defense of two capital murder cases.

Colonel Canham has been honored with a number of military decorations for his outstanding service to his country, including:

  • The Legion of Merit with gold star (2nd award)
  • Bronze Star
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star (2nd award)
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (x2)
  • National Defense Service Medal (x2)Navy and
  • Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (x5)

Since his retirement in 2005 at the rank of Colonel, Jay has devoted himself to his private legal practice and his love of teaching. Currently, he lectures in the areas of civil procedure, criminal procedure, substantive criminal law, juvenile justice, military law, and constitutional law as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Jay received his Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School in Boston and went on to earn his Master of Laws degree in Criminal/Military Law from the University of Virginia. He has maintained membership in the Rhode Island State Bar since 1982, the Federal Bar since 1982, and the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces since 1983.