January 2014 Bar Bulletin
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January 2014 Bar Bulletin

Justice Tom Chambers: 1943–2013 - A Rich Life

By Jason Edward Wax

 

Justice Tom Chambers passed away in his sleep December 11 after a long battle with cancer. He was 70 years old.

Tom served as a justice on our Supreme Court for 12 years: from 2000 to 2012. He continued to serve during that time even as his illness increased, managing to participate in oral arguments by Skype and other creative methods aided by his fellow justices.

Many of us knew Tom personally and professionally from his days as a trial lawyer. He was a dedicated, energetic and prolific litigator, trying as many as eight or more significant cases a year. I had the pleasure, and challenge, of opposing him and some of his WSAJ (WSTLA) colleagues in one of those trials, which lasted several weeks.

There, as in his other cases, Tom was always prepared, organized and structured in his presentation. He was soft spoken and respectful to all in the courtroom. It was a pleasure to watch him at work in trial. I recall that he carried and occasionally used a fountain pen during that trial; who does that? Tom did, and it seemed only natural for him to do so.

After Tom had been elected to the Supreme Court, I was asked to author an update to a WSBA trial practice deskbook that Tom had written the first version of. I wondered how our combined authorship should be reflected, and sent him a draft of the new composite chapter including my work to ask his preference in that regard. I remember being gratified that he endorsed all of my edits and additions, and that he wanted the chapter to simply carry both our names as authors.

Tom was one of the many unique and dedicated professionals that we have the opportunity to work with every day. As we recall his service and sympathize with his family and friends at his loss, perhaps, especially given the time of the year, we can celebrate and enjoy each other's company a little more as well.

-Mike Nicefaro President, WDTL


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