Richard Lumley Partners with FVAP on Amicus Brief Protecting Sexual Assault Survivors

GTH attorney Richard Lumley collaborated with the Family Violence Appellate Project (FVAP) to submit an amicus brief in Desean v. Sanger, No. 101330-2, — P.3d —- (Wash. 2023). On October 5, 2023, survivors of sexual assault in Washington State prevailed in this case, receiving a strong published decision from the Washington State Supreme Court.

The issue before the Washington Supreme Court in Desean was whether respondents in Washington’s Sexual Assault Protection Order Act (SAPOA) proceedings would also be entitled to raise a criminal affirmative defense that they reasonably believed the petitioner had capacity to consent when incapacity is at issue. Washington’s SAPOA allows a victim of unwanted sexual contact to seek a civil protection order against the perpetrator. Under the SAPOA, a court enters a sexual assault protection order (SAPO) if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the petitioner has been a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration by the respondent. Respondents are afforded an opportunity to testify and provide evidence in their defense during a SAPO proceeding.

The amicus brief submitted by Gordon Thomas Honeywell and FVAP highlighted that allowing respondents to raise such a defense in SAPO proceedings would not only contravene the Legislature’s intent but also result in harmful effects on survivors. The amicus brief presented social science research on the prevalence of sexual assaults versus those reported and the disparate impacts that sexual violence has on marginalized communities.

In a highly favorable decision for sexual assault survivors, the Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeals and determined that a respondent is not entitled to present a criminal affirmative defense under the SAPOA. The Supreme Court reasoned that the SAPOA provides a civil remedy to survivors and functions independently from criminal proceedings and that the Legislature’s omission of affirmative defenses in the statute was intentional. The Court further held that a petitioner seeking a SAPO based on nonconsensual sexual penetration need not prove the respondent’s intent. In such cases, the relevant inquiry for the court is whether the petitioner had capacity to consent, and if the answer is no, the respondent is not entitled to raise an affirmative defense that they reasonably believed otherwise.

The importance of this case cannot be overstated. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, SAPOs will continue to be available as intended to survivors, without the added burden of importing criminal standards in these special proceedings meant to protect survivors.

The following organizations joined in GTH and FVAP’s amicus brief: King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence; Seattle University School of Law Family Law Center; and the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. The full amicus brief is available here.

Welcoming Associates Katie Chan & Bryce Knutzen

Gordon Thomas Honeywell is pleased to welcome new associate attorneys Katie Chan and Bryce Knutzen to the firm!

Katie Chan graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School and comes to GTH after serving two years as a judicial law clerk to Judge Linda Lee of the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II. As a law student, Katie worked with the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State, and the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, where she performed research and drafted legal documents related to issues including fair housing, employment discrimination, student rights, racial justice, criminal procedure, public defense, and voting rights.

Bryce Knutzen joins GTH after graduating magna cum laude from Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. During his time in law school, Bryce served as a legal intern to the Appellate Division of the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where he conducted legal research and drafted briefs for appellate cases. Bryce also worked as a student attorney and tax intern, where he represented clients navigating the complex American tax system.

GTH Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year

This year, five GTH attorneys have been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for their excellence across practice areas offered by the firm.

Managing Partner Salvador Mungia has been awarded the Lawyer of the Year award for his civil rights practice in Tacoma, Washington. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his appellate practice and work in commercial and personal injury litigation.

Best Lawyers also recognized GTH attorneys William Lynn, for his work in environmental, land use and zoning, and real estate law; Donald Cohen, for his work in environmental and municipal law; Brad Jones, for his work in environmental law; and Julie Dickens, for her work in trusts and estates.

Best Lawyers is based on peer review to reflect the consensus opinion of top attorneys within the same geographic and practice areas. “Lawyer of the Year” is awarded to individuals who receive the highest peer feedback for a specific practice area and geographic region. Only one attorney may be recognized in their practice area and geographical location for this award.

16 GTH Attorneys Recognized as 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Thomson Reuters’ 2023 Super Lawyers has recognized sixteen Gordon Thomas Honeywell attorneys on its annual list. Super Lawyers selects the top 5% of attorneys on a state-by-state basis each year using peer nominations, evaluations, and independent research. This year, the recognized attorneys at GTH represent a range of practice areas offered by the firm, including business litigation, land use/zoning, employment litigation, utilities, environmental litigation, environmental law, estate planning and probate, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury medical malpractice, elder law, employment and labor, and insurance coverage.

Shelly M. Andrew, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Margaret Y. Archer, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Stephanie Bloomfield, Employment Litigation, Super Lawyer, Top 50 2023 Women Washington Super Lawyers, and Top 100 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Donald S. Cohen, Utilities, Super Lawyer

Dianne K. Conway, Environmental Litigation, Super Lawyer

Brad Jones, Environmental Law, Super Lawyer

Emma Luton, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

William T. Lynn, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Travis A. Mahugh, Mergers & Acquisitions, Rising Star

Andrea H. McNeely, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Salvador A. Mungia, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Super Lawyer

Amanda M. Nathan, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

Eileen S. Peterson, Elder Law, Super Lawyer

Chelsea E. Rauch, Employment & Labor, Rising Star

Michael E. Ricketts, Insurance Coverage, Super Lawyer

Robert C. Wilke, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Rising Star

Meet Our Summer Associates: Nadine Khalidi

Nadine Khalidi (she/her) is a rising 3L at University of Washington School of Law and one of two 2023 summer associates at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, splitting her time between GTH’s Seattle and Tacoma offices. We caught up with her to ask about her experience with law school and summer at GTH thus far.

What helped you decide on a career in law?

The law permeates virtually every professional field that exists, and it takes many different shapes and forms. I find it fascinating and perpetually relevant. I’ve also always wanted to be a resource and advocate for others, and I enjoy research and writing.

Do you know which area(s) of law you would like to practice after graduation?

I’m enjoying learning about various practice groups at GTH. I’m hoping to practice Labor & Employment law after graduation, because it incorporates human interaction and wellbeing with business and contract elements.

What do you hope to learn during your summer with GTH as you go into your 3L year?

I’m hoping to learn more about alternative dispute resolution opportunities in different practice areas. I also hope to find practical applications for my writing skills in the Labor & Employment law group, both in research formats and in drafting handbooks and resources for clients. So far, I’ve been given many opportunities to participate in meaningful and rewarding projects.

Why GTH for your 2L summer?

During my interview process, I got the sense that GTH deeply cares about the success of its attorneys. Since I’ve started as a Summer Associate, it’s been confirmed that GTH fosters a hardworking and enjoyable work environment. Every person has been kind, welcoming, and always ready to give me opportunities to learn. The firm itself is well established and continues to strive for excellence in innovative ways.  

What do you like to do in your free time outside of school and work?

I like to read, bake, travel, and paddle board on the lake.