Thomas P. Setser, a Senior Associate in Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Rochester office, possesses extensive courtroom experience in all matters of litigation, having served the last 19 years as a military defense counsel, civilian counsel and Assistant District Attorney.
Prior to joining Tully Rinckey, Thomas began his legal career as U. S. Navy Judge Advocate, where he served on active duty as a military defense counsel, legal assistance attorney, discipline officer and brig officer. Upon leaving active duty, he opened his own legal practice as a solo practitioner and continued his military service as a Navy Reservist. After a one-year mobilization with the U. S. Navy to the middle East, Thomas served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Mississippi until he was recalled to active duty where he served as the legal advisor to a two-star command. Upon completion of his orders, Thomas served as the deputy Staff Judge Advocate and then selected to serve as the Staff Judge Advocate to a Joint Command tasked with managing the process for reviewing the status of the detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Thomas has served as military defense counsel representing Sailors and Marines at all stages of military justice from Article 15 review to General Courts-Martial representation. He has represented service members at numerous administrative separation boards and has been appointed as an article 32 hearing officer. Thomas has reviewed and provided advice on countless investigations for referral to Article 15 (Captain’s Mast or Office Hours), Courts-Martial and/or administrative separation. He has trained officers to serve as Summary Courts-Martial officers and has represented Commands as the recorder (prosecutor) to administrative separation boards. Thomas has advised multiple commands on military justice, Command investigations, ethics and contracts. As a legal assistance attorney, both on active duty and in the reserves, he provided expert legal advice, to include preparing Wills and powers of attorney, to service members, retirees and their dependents on a multitude of civilian legal issues, including immigration.
In addition to his military law expertise, Thomas’ civilian litigation experience is extensive. As an Assistant District Attorney, he prosecuted several felony cases including armed robbery, aggravated assault and sexual assault of a minor. He reviewed law enforcement investigations to present to a grand jury, represented the State at civil hearings for property seized during drug arrests, and represented the State against probation violators. As a solo practitioner, he represented well over 100 criminal clients negotiating favorable guilty pleas, arguing motions affecting evidence at trials and bail or bond, and trying cases to verdict, both misdemeanor and felony cases. He represented clients in divorce petitions, contempt hearings, in front of state licensing boards and civil actions, both at the State and Federal level. Thomas successfully settled a Federal civil action for race discrimination and non-accommodation of a disabled person. Further, he represented minors in juvenile justice hearings as well as acted as guardian ad litem for children in abuse or neglect situations. Thomas has litigated several contract disputes including a successful appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court and was appointed to file appellate briefs on behalf of criminal defendants who could not afford an attorney.
Thomas earned his law degree from Mississippi School of Law and a bachelor of business administration in marketing from Mississippi State University. He is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association; U.S. Navy Reserve (Commander, JAG Corps); former board member of the King George Little League (vice president of Challenger’s division); former member of the board of directors for the American Red Cross, Vicksburg Area Chapter; former grand knight of Council 898 of the Knights of Columbus; and an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America.
Thomas’s military awards include four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal, and various Unit and expeditionary citations and awards.
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