Black lives matter, key to the rule of law

judge upholding the rule of law

by John Groseclose


We talk a lot about the rule of law. A key part of the rule of law is the obligation of courts to protect the rights of those with less power from those with more. In other words, to protect the rights of the minority from the popular rule of the majority. That is what I believe U.S. District Court Judge James Robart was expressing recently when he declared “Black lives matter” in open court.

The Seattle Police Department and the city are under court order and court oversight. They are required to reform policies and training related to use of force, discriminatory policing, and use of force oversight and discipline. Judge Robart used the phrase “black lives matter” in stating one of his concerns of the case.  He referenced statistics that showed disproportionate treatment of persons of color and how it resonates with him.  Those concerns should resonate with us all. He expressed his continuing concern that the City of Seattle get police reforms right. Judge Robart said the excessive use of force in police departments across the country makes it important that Seattle get things right. In addition, he said the changes the court ordered will protect Seattle police officers from deadly attacks, such as those that have happened recently.

Getting policing reforms right

The setting was the fifth status conference since the 2012 consent decree to assess the progress toward the goals of the decree. The decree was a result of a Department of Justice investigation of the Seattle Police Department. Justice Department findings highlighted excessive force and disparate impacts on people of color. These failures were due to SPD’s systematic failure to implement adequate policies, procedures, training, and oversight.

The entire status conference is video #5 on the U.S. Courts website. Judge Robart’s concluding remarks begin at the 1 hour, 23 minute mark.

Competing rights weighed

Judge Robart examined the competing rights of the Seattle Police officer Guild and the citizens of the city. He was firm. He would not allow the rights of the citizens of Seattle to constitutional policing be held hostage by the union’s demands under collective bargaining. The clearly had a right to bargain collectively, but that right did not allow the union to violate the rights of citizens.

In a free society there are always competing rights. Our courts exist to weigh competing rights and judge equitably.

Chalmers Johnson settlement for “trash out” victim

GSJones Law Group, Chalmers Johnson, was featured on a recent KOMO TV news segment on the illegal activities of “trash out” companies. Chalmers negotiated a settlement with Safeguard Properties for Byron Brassfield of Port Townsend. There are dozens of lawsuits against Safeguard filed every year for illegally entering foreclosed properties while the owners are still legally in possession and throwing away all the owners belongs, including mementos, photos and in one case even the urn containing a loved one’s ashes. Byron’s home was not even foreclosed when they broke into it and took everything to the dump.  Click here for the news story.

Chalmers loves getting compensation for people who have been injured or suffered serious wrongs. He would love to talk with you, if you need a strong attorney who will fight for you.

John Groseclose, Kitsap County neighbor

Meet John Groseclose, Kitsap County neighbor

Meet John Groseclose, one of your Kitsap County neighbors at the GSJones Law Group in Port Orchard and Silverdale, where he is a partner. He is an active member of the community, currently serving as the president of Kitsap Legal Services. He joined the board five years ago after volunteering for several years. The housing justice project, which he helped to form, is a particular favorite. “I was concerned that there was no way in Kitsap County to help people who were being evicted. Kitsap County lacked the clinic available in nearby counties,” he said.

Seahawks fan for decades

John, a longtime avid Seahawks fan, attended the Super Bowl with his wife in February. During the season he doesn’t miss a home game, usually attending either with his wife or his son. The father of two and the grandfather of two, his house is the gathering spot for them and family friends most weekends and holidays.

As a personal injury and family law attorney, John finds his work satisfying. “I really enjoy using the law to help people recover damages or right wrongs. I also love assisting parents to put together a good parenting plan that promotes a good relationship for children with both parents.”

Considering John to help you recover damages or to assist with a divorce or custody issues? Give him a call 360-876-9221

From Jingle Bell Runs to Boston Marathon to Ultras, Ginger is…


a running Maniac (that’s a thing).

GSJones Law Group legal assistant Ginger Gruber is off to Boston this weekend to once again participate in the Boston Marathon. Here she is wearing her medal at the finish line of the  2006 Boston Marathon. She ran her first marathon in 2001. This will be her 70thmarathon or longer race. She has done Ultras as long as 12 hour races, winning both of them at 69 miles in 12 hours. Her marathon PR (personal record ) is 3:16:11 at Winthrop Marathon.

Ginger does lots of local runs, including the Dolphin Dash and the Yukon Do It, which she created in 2010 by throwing out the idea on Facebook just because she thought she should get one more race in before the end of the year (and she wanted that Maniac title).  From concept to race day was less than two months and even in its first year it was hugely successful.

Ginger is just one of GSJones Law Group staff that can get things done successfully. We have a staff of attorneys providing full legal service who will go the extra mile for you.

We’ll be rooting for you on Monday, Ginger!

Humanitarian Award goes to GSJones Law Group attorney Sara Humphries

Sara, Humphries, family law, civil defense, appellate lawSara Humphries was recognized by her peers for her humanitarian work. The Kitsap County Bar Association presented her the 2014 Humanitarian Award “in recognition of sustained achievement in the public interest.”The presentation noted her pro bono work with tenant defense and housing issues and her years of service as a foster parent.

Since moving to Kitsap County, Sara has rapidly become a valued part of the community. She serves on the board of Kitsap Legal Services.  In addition, she volunteers with her church and sings in a choir that performs at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

Sara’s practice is primarily family law, although she also practices civil defense and appellate law.

Find out more about her on her profile page.

Partner David Jones appointed Judge Pro Tem for Kitsap Country

David Jones: GSJones Law Group, P.S.Recently Kitsap County District Court appointed our own Dave Jones Judge Pro Tem. He will serve as a commissioner for settlement conferences. This new responsibility calls on his skills developed over the last  21 years helping people work out their differences and get on with their lives.

He will continue his private practice.

Congratulations, Dave.

uninsured motorist coerage

Do you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Sometimes when I ask if people have uninsured motorist coverage people say they have FULL COVERAGE.

Sometimes what they really have is liability coverage.  Meaning they have what is legally required to drive.  Liability coverage pays another driver for their losses if you are at fault. It does not cover the damage to your car or your injuries.

There are a lot of people driving around without any insurance at all.  What would you do if your car had $2,500 in damage and you had hospital bills of $3,000.00 and the person that caused the accident had no job, no insurance, no license and was just generally unaccountable? Uninsured/underinsured coverage comes to the rescue in this situation.

Coverages summarized

Bodily injury liability covers other people’s bodily injuries for which you are responsible.  Property damage liability covers you if your car damages someone else’s property.  These coverages come with maximum limits that you choose at the inception of your policy. Liability coverages don’t protect your car in any way, so that is why you purchase physical damage coverages.

Uninsured property damage covers damage to your own car if the at fault driver has no insurance.

Uninsured motorist coverage steps into the shoes of at at fault party’s coverage if they had no coverage.

Talk to your insurance agent.  See if you have the coverage that you need.  If you are not sure, ask the agent to explain it in detail.  It is really not difficult to incur $5,000.00 in property damage and $5,000.00 in hospital bills.  Take steps to protect yourself and make informed decisions.

Do not let someone tell you that you have full coverage without knowing exactly what they mean by the reference.

Collision insurance covers damage to your automobile caused by a collision with another object or by upset. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle for damages caused by things other than collisions, such as vandalism, theft, or glass breakage.

Most lienholders require physical damage coverage if you are financing or leasing your vehicle.  These coverages each come with a deductible, an amount due before your insurance benefits kick in.

“You da Best”

Chalmers Johnson, one of our attorneys, flew to South Carolina a few days ago to once again argue before the State Supreme Court. He has been practicing law in Washington State since relocating in 2008 but, based on his reputation, Chalmers Johnson continues to be consulted on tough appeals in South Carolina. This clip shows the greeting of the Chief Justice which indicates the esteem in which he is held. In the vernacular of South Carolina the Chief Justice says to Chalmers: “You da best.” View the greeting for yourself.

While Chalmers focuses on personal injury and employment law, he has extensive experience in appellate work.

Now is a great time to settle with the IRS


In the last 30 days, four clients were able to settle with the IRS, when it accepted our Offers in Compromise.  If you owe back taxes, now is the time to explore this option. An Offer in Compromise allows a taxpayer with IRS debt to offer to pay what he can afford. If the IRS believes the offer is equal to or more than it could collect from the taxpayer, it will settle. These taxes include income taxes (1040), payroll taxes, trust fund penalties, and more.

$75 settled $30,000 IRS debt

For example, one of our clients had no equity in their home and their monthly necessary living expenses equaled or exceeded their monthly income.  In that case, the amount that the IRS was convinced that they could collect from our clients was zero. The IRS accepted our offer to pay $75.00 to cancel over $30,000 in taxes.

I have been doing offers in compromises for more than 20 years since the program first began. Without a doubt, this is one of the most favorable times to get an offer accepted that I have experienced. If you want to explore this option, give me a call.

by Norm Short, Tax and Business Law Attorney