Tom Chambers – Champion of The People

The state of Washington lost a champion of the people when Retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers passed away peacefully in his sleep on the evening of December 11, 2013. Throughout his legal and judicial career, 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 throughout Washington’s legal community 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. Justice Chambers was born and raised in the Yakima Valley and grew up working on cars in his father’s gas station. Throughout his life he loved automobiles, his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and airplanes, becoming an accomplished pilot and serving as the chair for Washington’s chapter of the Pilot Lawyer Bar Association.

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In Lieu of Flowers

Tom Chambers’ former office building on Seattle’s Capitol Hill is now home to Gilda’s Club. The family asks that donations be made to that organization in lieu of flowers.

 

Memorial Services

A service will be held for family and friends on December 22,2013 at The Golf Club at Newcastle beginning at 2:00 p.m.

A public memorial to honor Justice Chambers will be held at 4:00 p.m. on January 9, 2014, at the Museum of Flight in tribute to the fact that Tom Chambers always reached for the sky.

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, go to this page.

 

EXPERIENCE Many believe that Justice Chambers benefited from a broad range of experience. Before joining the court, he practiced law for 30 years representing people from all walks of life, earning a reputation for being fair, honest, and absolutely grounded in good old common sense. Areas of law practice include administrative, criminal, estate planning, family, business, construction, poverty, personal injury, real estate transactions and worker’s compensation.  For a 10-year period, he tried more personal injury cases for the plaintiff than any other lawyer in the state.  He is a seasoned trial lawyer whose years in the trenches made him uniquely qualified to understand trial procedure from an appellate bench.  He gave up a very lucrative trial practice to become a State Supreme Court Justice at a fraction of what he had been making because, on the Supreme Court he could make more of a difference.
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PROFESSIONAL AWARDS 1978-79  “Boss of the Year, “ Greater Seattle Legal Secretaries Association 1989  “Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year,” Washington State Association for Justice 1996  “Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year,” American Board of Trial Advocates Washington Chapter 1998  Yakima Valley Community College “Distinguished Alumni Award” 2006  “Outstanding Judge of the Year,” Washington Women Lawyers King County Chapter 2009  “Distinguished Alumni Award“, University of Washington School of Law 2012  “Lifetime Achievement Award”, Washington State Bar Association
2012  “Lifetime Achievement Award”, American Board of Trial Advocates (First given in 9 years) 2013  The Washington State Association for Justice changed the name of its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to the “Tom Chambers Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.”  My bust will be given to the award recipient. On July 26, 2013, the first Washington State Association of Justice “Tom Chambers Trial Lawyer of the Year” bust was awarded to Rick Friedman.  I’ve written more about the award in a blog article aptly named Legacy.
2013  “Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Alumni Public Service Award” from the UW School of Law
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COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY

WRITINGS AND PUBLICATIONS.  During his career as a lawyer, Tom authored more than 100 articles and papers which were presented at seminars or published lawyer publications such as the Seattle King County Bar Bulletin, The Trial News, or Bar News.  He wrote a popular column called “Tom’s Tips on Torts.”  He also published a two volume, 1,000-page book, “Tom Chambers Trial Notebook” Published by the Washington State Trial Lawyers, 1992.  He wrote, produced, and supplied the “talent” for two instructional videos intended to be viewed by the clients of lawyers: Preparing for Your Defense Medical Exam and Preparing for your Deposition in a Personal Injury Case.  Although produced in the early 1990’s, both videos are still being used today.

As a Supreme Court Justice he has written over 400 published opinions.  Over 225 of these opinions have been majority opinions binding as precedents upon lower courts and are the “road maps” lawyers follow in advising clients.
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RETIREMENT VIDEO.
 Justice Chambers had a retirement party on October 11th, 2012.  His friend Lori Haskell prepared a video to celebrate his career.  It is 7 minutes long but will leave you laughing.