“If Justice is not equal for all,
It is not Justice”
-Justice Tom Chambers, State v. Monday
171 Wash.2d 667, 680, 257 P.3d 551, 558 (Wash. 2011)
Champion of the People
“Justice Chambers advocated for the rights of the individual and staunchly supported the rights of ordinary citizens in the face of more powerful interests.”
“He was known as a true gentleman and a superb trial lawyer who rose to our state’s highest court, proudly declaring that his head remained attached to his heart when deciding legal issues.”
” When he rose to the state’s highest court he authored seminal opinions, including a groundbreaking opinion on the rights of foster children as well as a widely cited case on the constitutional right to competent representation when charged with a crime whether or not the defendant can pay for an attorney. Justice Chambers remained proud of the fact that he never forgot his roots. And in turn, he will never be forgotten.”
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A Little History
Memorial Guest Book
Tom wanted to make a space on this website for people to contribute. If you’d like to post a story, quote, anecdote, image, video, or anything at all about Tom, this is the place.
What Others Say
“Legend In His Own Time”
“There are few who truly are legends in their own time Tom Chambers is one such. A life fully. He has lived a rich life and has added richness to the lives of so many others, including mine. Tom believes there should be a level playing field in the law. Leveling the playing field is wired into his DNA and is the reason he was a great lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. There are hundreds of lawyers who Tom Chambers has mentored and changed their lives. Tom taught us we had a duty to fight for our clients. He told us, “Don’t just go through the motions. Every client deserves your very best.” Just asking myself, “What would Tom Chambers do,” has inspired me to take on and win cases I didn’t think I could win.”
– William S Bailey, Past Trial Lawyer of the Year, WSTLA, now WSAJ
”Never to say it can’t be done.”
“I thought my best mentor in the law would be a female. I was wrong. It was Tom Chambers. In 1989, no one knew what to do with a female lawyer with a baby who wanted to have a family. But Tom Chambers knew what to do. He hired me even though I would not work full time. He allowed my to breast feed my baby at the office and leave my baby with Sheila when I had to go to court. He taught me never to say it can’t be done. Instead, he taught me just go do it. Just go try it. He has been a mentor and inspiration to me and hundreds of other lawyers.”
– Karen Koehler, Past President and Trial Lawyer of the Year, WSTLA now WSAJ.
“He transformed into James Madison”
“But then there was a stir, some chuckles and a few whispers. Chambers slipped into a white wig and an old-fashioned purple coat with lace-decorated sleeves. He transformed into James Madison, only the head of the cartoon Dalmatian puppy on Chambers neck tie showing above the golden collar of the old-fashioned coat.
It was Chambers third visit to [Central Kitsap High School], as they keep inviting him. He has worked this stop into his schedule of speaking at high schools and in front of community groups in the state about law and the judiciary.
Chambers said he believes judges need to be among people, to find out what the issues are that concern them. ‘Part of our obligation is to be open,’ he added. ‘And to make sure people understand how the court works.’”
– Central Kitsap Reporter, October 7, 2005
“An Abdication of Constitutional Responsibility”
“One of the dissenting justices referred to the court’s decision [that the Legislature’s emergency clause attached to a bill amending Initiative 601 so that a simple majority could amend the law instead of a two-thirds majority] as an ‘abdication of its constitutional responsibility to review legislative action.’
In his dissent, Justice Tom Chambers described the referendum this way: ‘The referendum is a sword the people gave themselves to slay unwanted legislation. The people also gave the Legislature a shield to protect certain legislation under certain circumstances from the referendum sword. It is ultimately and uniquely the judiciary’s role to assure that both the sword and the shield are used only as constitutionally permitted.’”
– The News Tribune, July 28, 2005