Justin Herdman is a partner at Jones Day and former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. As U.S. Attorney, Herdman ensured that the Department of Justice’s number one priority – preventing terrorism and advancing national security – was carried out in the Northern District of Ohio. Under his leadership, the office was responsible for disrupting several mass-casualty attacks, including a plan to attack downtown Cleveland on July 4, 2018 perpetrated by an individual who swore allegiance to Al Qaeda; a plot to attack a downtown Toledo bar and an energy pipeline; and a plot by an ISIS-inspired individual to attack a Toledo-area synagogue, which was the first-ever indictment alleging both national security violations and hate crimes offenses. He also was appointed to the United States Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of the U.S. Attorneys (AGAC), of which he ultimately served as the Vice-Chair, and served as Chair of the AGAC’s Terrorism & National Security Subcommittee.
Herdman also became a vocal advocate for the need to address the surge in white supremacy-related violence and threats to the public. Recognizing the growing number of threats to places of worship and those who seek to peacefully exercise their religious rights, Herdman brought more than 250 people together, including community members, religious leaders, and law enforcement representatives and agents, for a multi-denominational conversation about supporting all faiths and securing places of worship. Herdman also oversaw numerous prosecutions of individuals who used social media platforms or other internet-based communications to threaten northern Ohio residents with violence, including an individual who threatened a Youngstown-area Jewish Community Center.
While at Jones Day, Herdman maintains an active pro bono practice. In 2022, he successfully represented Michael Sutton in the court-ordered retrial of a 15-year old wrongful conviction obtained via the State’s withholding of exculpatory material. After a week-long trial, a Cuyahoga County (Ohio) jury acquitted Mr. Sutton of all charges and ensured he would not return to state prison.
Herdman previously an Assistant United States Attorney from 2006 through 2013, serving as both a line assistant and supervisor. During that time, he was responsible for investigating and prosecuting national security crimes, including the successful trial and appeal of a homegrown terror cell that sought to support al Qaeda. He was also part of the prosecution team of five self-proclaimed anarchists convicted of attempting to use explosives to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge. Earlier in his career, he was an Assistant District Attorney in New York City.
He still serves as a Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force Reserve and is a former intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He earned his B.A. from Ohio University, his M.Phil. from the University of Glasgow, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
My network of professionals working on countering hate in all its forms grew exponentially after attending Eradicate Hate in 2021. The myriad voices represented at Eradicate Hate, from big tech companies to academic researchers to those with lived experience, reinforced to me the importance of cross-cutting and collaborative approaches to counter hate and its devastating impacts on society. I’ve been fortunate to sustain and build those networks with many of those I met at Eradicate Hate in 2021.