John “Jack” O’Neill is an experienced attorney who was counsel for the Philadelphia Building Trades and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, handled civil litigation with a private firm and spent a decade as a city prosecutor, where he was lead counsel on some of the city’s high-profile criminal trials.
At Kline & Specter, O’Neill focuses on workplace and construction site injury litigation and other catastrophic injury litigation.
Immediately prior to joining the firm, O’Neill, a Philadelphia native, represented the Philadelphia Building Trades and was counsel and chief of staff for IBEW Local 98, developing a deep relationship with Philadelphia’s labor community. Before that, he worked with the private Center City law firm of Schatz and Steinberg, P.C., where he practiced civil and criminal litigation.
It was with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office that O’Neill gained much of his experience, starting with the Municipal Court Unit, then to Juvenile Court cases, the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, then to working in the Homicide and Special Investigations units. He won more than 100 jury trials and several hundred bench trials.
O’Neill won a verdict and prison sentence of 50 to 100 years in the celebrated trial of the so-called Kensington Rapist, Marcos Camacho, one of the worst serial rapists in Philadelphia history. “He held a knife to their throats, he raped them, and threw them out into the winter cold, naked. He did it over and over again in a small period of time, and he did it with no remorse at all,” O’Neill told CBS news and other news media at the time.
In another case, O’Neill won a conviction in the first case in Pennsylvania in which, arguing a person’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, he was allowed to have a victim with cerebral palsy testify using an alternative means of communication, namely a speech pathologist serving as an expert/translator, a method upheld upon appeal by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. O’Neill used the case as the basis for a lecture on how to represent victims with similar disabilities that he gave before the National Conference on Crimes Against Women.
In another high-profile win, O’Neill secured a guilty verdict in a cold-case murder that occurred in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum during the city’s Independence Day fireworks show.
O’Neill also worked with various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Homeland Security, in coordinating an investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of Wayne Prater, who had built a bomb that, if detonated, could have created an explosion radius larger than Lincoln Financial Field.
O’Neill has been selected to speak at a number of forums on various topics, including about representing people who are disabled and cases involving crimes against women. He also worked with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to help train nurses on testifying in cases of sexual assault.
O’Neill is the president of Young Organized Philadelphia, an AFL-CIO affiliated workers advocacy group. He served as Secretary for the Brehon Law Society, an organization for lawyers and judges of Irish descent.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and his law degree from Florida State University, where he was a member of the Business Law Review and received the Excellence in Trial Advocacy Award. O’Neill has also won several book awards, including for comparative criminal procedure and the civil legal system.