Our Rating


John W. Thornton, Attorney at Law - Santa Cruz is rated
5 out of 5.0 based on 49 reviews

anonymous Jul 24, 2020

I hired John after I was charged with a DUI for which I was facing criminal penalties and a loss of driving privilege that would have had a severe impact on both my personal and professional life. I knew that I had not actually committed any crime, but that proving so was going to be an uphill battle. John diligently gathered and documented evidence, including the acquisition of security camera footage, which ultimately convinced the county not pursue a case against me. In addition to the initial DUI charge, I had also refused to take the field breathalyzer, which can result in an automatic 1 year license suspension. This was an even harder battle to win and actually ended up going to a hearing with the DMV. Once again John expertly presented evidence, gave excellent counsel as to my own testimony, and made well conceived opening/closing statements that convinced the hearing officer to set aside the suspension of my license. Over a year after the initial incident my record and driving privilege was left unscathed and I couldn't be happier with John's work. I always had the sense that he wanted to win and he did. Money well spent!

Monica Jul 10, 2020

John really took the time to review my case and get me the best outcome. With Covid going on, we did all our communication via email and phone and he was always available to discuss my case and give me the legal advice I needed. He went above and beyond in settling my case and I highly recommend him.

anonymous Jan 23, 2020

John handled my case incredibly tactfully and managed to secure a great result! He is well connected and experienced in navigating the court system in Santa Cruz, and is a very easy to communicate with (very quick response time). Most of all, he genuinely cares about his clients wellbeing and the end result in the case, and is relatable, empathetic, and kind.

Bill M. Dec 10, 2019

JT is the best and most experienced DUI defense lawyer in Santa Cruz, hands down.  He has saved countless drivers licenses at the DMV and in court and has kept countless of his clients out of jail; enabling them to keep their jobs and/or professional licenses.  He is personable, highly intelligent and well respected both in and out of court.

WM Apr 22, 2019

This man changed my life. After close to 10 years since receiving a California felony "wobbler" conviction, I believed that I would always carry the label as a criminal, no matter where I went, or what I chose to pursue in life. This made it difficult to find work, enjoy my hobbies, or even maintain personal relationships. Moving forward, I reached out to John through a recommendation from a family friend. I was currently living out of state, and pursuing an education at a university. John (JT) made every step of the process clear and concise, taking extreme care to stay in communication with me along the way. After months of hard work and a lot of bouncing back and forth between us, I could tell that his preparation was thorough and we were ready. On the day that we won, I was absolutely ecstatic and felt tears of joy. I am forever in debt to this man. His service was outstanding, his personality is amazing, and he completely delivered on what was promised. I recommend him bar none to anyone who has hope for bettering their life and a second chance.

Brian Nov 14, 2018

John Thornton is a consummate professional. Knows the law inside out, was able to negotiate the best settlement possible for my particular DUI. Was able to reduce my DUI school from 9 months to 3 months, a huge benefit. Handled every aspect of the case calmly, professionally and with an upbeat attitude. In fact, it is John's attitude that made the biggest impression upon me. Always positive, never judgmental, and laden with a refreshing dose of humor as well. Love his "can do" approach. Very highly recommended.

Tracey Aug 13, 2018

When I called John (or JT as I now know him) the day after my DUI, I knew instantly I could trust him to represent my DUI case in Santa Cruz. JT was an empathetic ear in that moment when I had found myself in a pathetic situation. He was realistic about my circumstances and genuine in every sense of the word. He even ‘checked in’ on me periodically, knowing this was a very private matter for me at the time. With the nature of my career, JT was able to represent me every step of the way, providing timely feedback, and keeping me on track to get through this process as streamline as possible. JT kept in touch with me over the years and furthermore successfully represented me during my DUI ‘dismissal’ 3 years later, which has helped me to move forward successfully in my career.

shawn May 30, 2018

The contrast between John and the lawyers I contacted before providence brought me to his doorstep is night and day. With others, question #1 was “how much money do you have”, and more than one hung up on me merely at a hesitation in my reply. John’s first move was to listen to me. His second move was to immediately call the DA’s office on my behalf, before the question of hiring him even came up. The arresting officer had gone far out of his way to stretch the story and concoct the case for a felony arrest, and I found myself in real trouble. (Unsolicited advice from my personal experience: even the most innocuous details shared before Miranda rights are read can and will be used against you, and it’s in the cop’s own professional best interest to make it sound like they’ve arrested the biggest criminal imaginable.) Just by presenting my perspective he got my booking reduced to a misdemeanor, which also meant his fee to handle the case would be lower because there would be less work involved. Then, 5 years later, he successfully filed to have my record sealed. I hadn’t yet requested help, and even felt nervous even asking for his advice about whether shaking an arrest on my record was an option for me. There was no additional charge, just the unsolicited offer of “let me see what I can do for you”. If there’s one thing missing from all these reviews, in which so many others share my experience with John, it’s that the prosecutors at the Santa Cruz courthouse have just as much trust and respect for John—for his humanity, honesty and fairness—as we do. I witnessed it in every interaction from that first phone call through the judges gavel, and it’s because he treats everyone, including them, with an equal respect. Beyond John’s significant legal expertise, his relationship with the court is an invaluable asset. The court took his account into consideration, over the cop’s, in my booking. The court was forthcoming with information, both the facts as they considered them and what their intentions would be in prosecuting the case, which helps with peace of mind during a stressful time. In court, he sat on the prosecutors side and worked things out with the DA before my case was called. The entire court proceeding was no more than the judge’s rubber stamp on our mutual agreement, and I was spared all penalty beyond the black mark on my record. And he didn’t stop until even that was gone. The best part is, he’s not being a good person to gain advantage, he’s just being himself.

Peter Griffin Nov 13, 2017

Reviewer Did Not Provide A Comment

Bill Makler Oct 24, 2017

Reviewer Did Not Provide A Comment

Renee Oct 06, 2017

John Thornton is on of the most professional people I have ever met. I was in the most stressful position of my life and he helped me more than anyone ever could. During the entire process of John working for me he was there for me, empathetic, he did everything he said he was going to do when, he said he would do it, and did his best! John is a high integrity man. We need more people like him. I can not say enough nice things about him. He saved my life.

Debbie J. Aug 30, 2017

John was terrific.  He handled a legal matter for me. He was always upbeat with a smile on his face. Despite its complexity, I never had to personally deal with the court system.  He was extremely knowledgeable and returned phone calls/ text messages very promptly.    John was always one step ahead, and told you what next steps would me.{ Don't rely on Mr. Google, because a lot of the information is obsolete/inaccurate.   John would always say, No it doesn't work that way}...He was always spot on.

anonymous May 13, 2017

John got an awesome verdict for me on a hard case to win; helped me through the process and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him to anyone who needed a DUI lawyer. John is the man, it's that simple.

C K. Nov 17, 2016

If you are the parent of a young adult in trouble, you have come to the right place. John is a personable, savvy lawyer who certainly knows his way around Santa Cruz. His price is reasonable and the value very high. I highly recommend him. You will be in good hands.

calvin Jun 29, 2016

can not say enough about Mr. John Thornton 5 stars is simply not enough my life was in his hands for one year as he did his thing with HR (human resource ) and the DA kept in touch every step every turn this MAN is true to his word

Kim Nov 29, 2015

He was incredibly generous and empathetic, and he genuinely cares about his clients and was non judgemental, understanding, and kind to me. John worked out a wonderful deal with the DA for me and saved me, I will always recommend him as an extraordinary lawyer and an even better person!

Michael Jul 13, 2015

John helped me with a DUI case, and I had some very unusual requirements for the outcome. John employed some amazing legal acrobatics to get it done - arriving to the outcome I needed quickly. Best outcome I could've hoped for. I recommend John to anyone who is looking for a DUI lawyer - don't think twice.

Solange F. Mar 08, 2015

I contacted John's office on a Sunday. I am not one of of his client and I just had some questions about an old matter. John answered all my questions, very helpful and knowledgeable. I do recommend his services.

Chris Jan 23, 2015

Our family has hired John Thornton on two different occasions. Once for our oldest son and a DUI matter and the second time for our younger son and a moving vehicle matter. I hope we do not have a need to hire him again but should a situation arise I am very comforted to know he is there. John was referred to us by two well respected, long time Attorneys in our local community as well as a family member who has practiced law for a number of decades. I’m ever so grateful to those individuals for this referral! The outcome of both matters was better than we could’ve hope for. On top of the awesome referral and positive outcome for both, there is the fact that we had the pleasure of working with John. John was respectful, kind, sincere and supportive while being very honest and straight forward about all the possible outcomes they could be facing. His knowledge of the laws and legal process is as good as it gets and in both matters I could tell the Courts respect him and his work. We were able to discuss what we would like to see happen or at least try to have a voice in what the law was going to hand down to our sons. More importantly, what we wanted to try to avoid in order to keep their ability to drive themselves to places of employment, continue college educations, and still be held accountable for their actions. John is a brilliant attorney and I welcome the opportunity to refer him. John is welcome to give my contact information to anyone who would like to discuss his ability to represent or have further questions.

Tim Dec 30, 2014

Navigating the court system is a monster unto itself and it should not be taken lightly. John has experience that has earned him the professionalism and honor for which he stands. Not only is he a brilliant attorney, he is a friggin' genius. He is trustworthy, honest and knows every possible angle to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients. He is nonjudgemental while protecting your integrity and preventing any sort of embarrassment. He regards communication with his clients on the highest level. He constantly made humble recommendations on which road to travel. Throughout my process with John and the courts (4 months total), I could visibly witness how very hard he worked for me. I really thought about the possibility of being sunk with what I was facing, but John came through and got me an outcome that, to this day, is simply too good to be true. I can't say enough great things about this man. When you want the best, hire the best.