James Wheaton is founder and Of Counsel for over 30 years at the First Amendment Project, a public interest law firm which protects peoples’ First Amendment rights to learn about and participate in public affairs. He has litigated First Amendment issues for journalists and others at every level of state and federal courts. His work on First Amendment issues has been recognized by the Playboy Foundation, as one of California Lawyer's "Attorney of the Year" three times, and by the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal FOIA Chapter most recently with its Career Achievement Award (only the second time the award has been given to someone who is not a journalist, editor or publisher).
Wheaton has played prominent roles in a number of civic and professional groups, including co-chair of the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California Chapter’s Freedom of Information Committee. He is founder and past-president of the Environmental Law Foundation, a public interest environmental justice program in Oakland. He is the former executive director of California Common Cause, has served as an Oakland Public Ethics Commissioner and as a member of the executive committee of the California State Bar Environmental Section.
Wheaton received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught Journalism Law at San Francisco State University and at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism since 1999.