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John Murphy

John Murphy

John Murphy

Attorney John Murphy grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley in the 1950’s, and after finishing law school at Gonzaga University School of Law, went on to work in various areas of law including criminal law and business law. John handled high-profile murder cases and became known as a tough litigator who was able to obtain exceptional results for the most challenging cases. He has achieved numerous million-dollar and multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for his clients throughout his nearly 40 years of practicing law and 500+ trials, according to a statement made by Judge John Cooney back in the 1970’s. Since then, John has built an even greater foundation of verdicts and settlements for his personal injury clients. He had always preferred personal injury and wrongful death cases, because he likes to use his skills to help people achieve justice for injuries caused by negligence.

The insurance claim process is complicated and often frustrating. Learn about the ways that John helps his clients deal with insurance claims.

John’s legal skills have been acknowledged by numerous organizations. John has repeatedly been selected as a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine, a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. John was appointed to serve on the Board of Bar Examiners by the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association. He was appointed as a member of the Washington State Disciplinary Board and a member of the Committee on Jury Instructions by the Washington State Supreme Court.

John enjoys teaching his legal skills to others. He was recently invited to travel to Uganda to provide training and mentoring to local attorneys, through a program run by Justice Advocacy Africa.

After John Murphy and attorney Dean Brett went head-to-head in court for a number of years, they decided that they would rather work on the same team, and thus Brett Murphy was born. John brings to the firm his broad experience, his finely honed legal expertise, and his drive to achieve the best possible results for each client.

John is a key member of the Brett Murphy team of attorneys who have built a reputation for highly effective case management and the willingness to take any case to trial rather than settle for less than total claim value. You can contact the injury attorneys by calling 1-800-925-1875 or by completing a confidential contact form.

Case Results

$4.4 million for victims of a drunk driver, one of the largest judgments in San Juan County history

Attorney John Murphy obtained a $4.4 million judgment for two victims of a devastating collision caused when a drunk driver was racing with his drunk friend and plowed at a high speed head-on into the victims’ vehicle. One of John’s clients suffered severe head injuries and was in a coma; John’s other client needed surgery due to serious internal injuries. The at-fault driver, who had a blood-alcohol level of .11 at the time of the crash and who was driving without insurance due to a prior DUI conviction, was convicted of vehicular assault and was sentenced to 41 months in prison. In the civil suit, John Murphy was able to obtain this multi-million dollar judgment for his clients, one of the largest civil judgments in San Juan County history.

$1 million for law enforcement officer suffering from PTSD after on-the-job injuries

John represented a law enforcement officer who had sustained injuries while on duty, and who was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The law enforcement agency resisted the claim, in part due to the agency’s fear that additional law enforcement officers would make similar claims if this case was successful. John was successful in obtaining more than $1 million in benefits for the injured officer.

Teen joyride in crowded car results in one fatality and an $18,000 judgment

John’s background as a defense attorney gives him unique insight and understanding of how to manage a wrongful death case for the plaintiff. For example, John was hired by defendants named in a lawsuit based on an accident in which a teen was killed. In this case, six teens were riding in a VW Golf on a narrow residential street when the driver chose to speed at 80 mph. He lost control, killing one occupant and causing serious injuries to the other passengers.

The plaintiffs’ attorney asked the jury to award $3.7 million in damages. John Murphy presented the defense case that the accident was caused by the poor choices of the driver, not by owner of the vehicle he was driving.

After a 6-day trial and two days of deliberations, John Murphy was able to limit a jury award to just $18,000 in damages, rather than the $3.7 million the plaintiff requested the jury to award.

Attorney John Murphy gets acquittal for wife accused of murdering her husband

Earlier in his career, attorney John Murphy was a well-known defense attorney who handled numerous murder cases, including this case of an abused wife who killed her husband in self defense during a heated argument. John’s client was charged with second-degree murder, indicating that prosecutors believed she intended to kill her husband but that the act was not premeditated. She spent ten months in jail awaiting trial.

After a two-week trial that involved 55 witnesses including domestic violence specialists, John was able to prove that his client was an abused wife who believed that her husband, a man who had killed his previous wife during an argument 20 years earlier, was intending to find a weapon and kill her. The jury agreed, and acquitted John’s client of the charges.

John Murphy defends Skagit County District Court Judges

The Skagit County Prosecutor sued the county’s District Court because 11 DUI cases had been dismissed because they hadn’t gone to trial in the required 90 days of the arrest date. The Prosecutor put forth that the District Court had deliberately 'engineering dismissals".  The District Judges put forth that trials are frequently postponed, and the trial scheduling could have been extended. Attorney John Murphy was hired by the Skagit County District Court Judges to defend the Judges in this unusual lawsuit, and after a trial, John obtained a dismissal for the Judges.

John was hired by the Commonwealth of Virginia

John Murphy has been chosen to participate in some unique cases for clients outside of Washington State as well. Based upon recommendation from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, John Murphy was appointed by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia to represent agents of the Commonwealth for alleged violations of civil rights. Several other attorneys and law firms of the Commonwealth also hired John to represent them in this case.

The document signed by the Attorney General appointing John states that:

“I welcome you to the group of distinguished attorneys who have represented the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am confident that you are aware of the importance that the manner of your representation is to the Office of the Attorney General, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the citizens of Virginia.”

John obtained a court ordered dismissal of the case against the Commonwealth and the other named defendants.

Dismissal of charges in $6 million land sale case

In this unique case, attorney John Murphy was chosen to defend a claim originally valued at millions of dollars. Sea Van Investments launched a suit attempting to enforce an alleged contract for the sale of land within a golf course development. John obtained a court-ordered dismissal of the charges against his clients. The claim was originally valued at $6 million.

Whipple v. State Farm Automobile Insurance Company

John was hired by an elderly client who had been getting the run around from the insurance company that refused to recognize the injuries our client had suffered in an accident. State Farm had offered just $5000 as a settlement. John took the case to trial and achieved a $175,000 verdict for his client.

Multi-Million Dollar Resolution of Civil Action 2012

Terms of the case are confidential.

Kopp v. Estate of Johnson

Million dollar resolution of claim v. personal representative of estate based upon omission of an heir.

Tommy P v. Board of Commissioners

John represented Tommy P, an eight-year old boy charged with eight counts of burglary. John petitioned the Court for a school teacher to instruct Tommy prior to and after he received his length sentence. The trial judge, The Honorable Del Cary Smith, agreed with John. He ordered as part of the plea agreement that the County of Spokane hire counsel to bring an action to determine if juveniles were entitled to school instruction during periods of detention. The Washington State Supreme Court held that juveniles of school age have a right to education while detained in juvenile detention centers, both before and after adjudication and disposition.

State of Washington v. Alex Coble

In a unique case, John Murphy was hired to represent a four year old girl whom the government had subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a murder trial. John’s efforts to protect the child from the trauma of testifying in a case against her own father resulted in the government quashing its own subpoena.

The girl’s father was accused of first-degree murder and attempted murder in a fatal shooting, but he claimed self defense. The prosecution contended that the child was the only person who could give testimony to what actually happened during the incident. After the girl’s mother refused to allow prosecutors to interview the girl, they filed a subpoena. And the mother sought John Murphy’s help to protect her daughter.

John presented child psychology experts who testified that the child would suffer emotionally from being questioned as a witness, and that she would likely not be able to provide accurate information about the incident. Because of John’s advocacy and the experts’ testimony, the child was spared from the trauma of testifying.

State of Washington v. Santacruz-Hernandez

John Murphy was asked to represent a trial attorney who, while defending a client in criminal court, realized there was a conflict of interest and that she needed to withdraw from the case. The trial attorney hired John to represent her.   John requested a delay of one day to have time to collect and present evidence of the conflict of interest that the trial attorney had that was preventing the defendant Santacruz-Hernandez from receiving a fair trial.  John stated to the trial court:

 “But the worst thing imaginable at this point in time is to launch her into a trial when she can't entirely fulfill her ethical responsibilities to the man seated to her left who is her client. She can't disclose by way of questioning or any other means the confidences or secrets that she has gained from the confidential informant client, and I am in the position that I can't even ask for a conference in camera to disclose those to the court … If my imagination is not working overtime on specifics, I guarantee you, you give me 24 hours, which unfortunately I don't have as I sit here, I'll come up with a number of valid situations that are confronted by my client representing a confidential informant showing things she can't use to investigate this case and representing this gentleman to her left. I'd love the opportunity to do so.”

The court refused the continuance, denied the motion to withdraw, and ordered John’s attorney client to proceed to try the case. A jury found her client guilty on all counts.

The Washington State Court of Appeals reversed the conviction (State of Washington v. Santacruz-Hernandez, 109 Wn.App. 328, 40 p.3d 672 (2001), and quoted John extensively in its decision, including the comments made above. John’s client was able to provide her client a fair trial after all.

In the wake of legalization, John recalls two early cases related to marijuana possession

As Washington State recently legalized recreation marijuana use, as the new retail stores open around the state, and as law enforcement and judges grapple with the brave new world of legalization, attorney John Murphy recalls some early criminal cases he handled related to marijuana.

John handled a fascinating case back in the 1990’s in which he represented a client who was being indicted by the U.S. Government for smuggling 69 TONS of marijuana into the United States from Cambodia. In this case, the client turned out to be the son of the Chief of Detectives, who was assigned by the U.S. government to investigate contraband being brought into the country. The client had been recruited by the smugglers to observe his father’s activities and actions, and to report back, to enable the smugglers to avoid detection. When the smugglers were busted for bringing in the marijuana, John’s client was busted right along with them.

John was successful in getting the criminal charges against his client dismissed.


In another interesting criminal case from 1979, John represented a client who had been arrested for smoking marijuana. The defendant insisted that he used marijuana because he suffered from multiple sclerosis, and the drug helped alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

John brought the case to trial. Initially the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, and also denied the defendant’s motion to consider the defense of medical necessity. John’s client was found guilty.

However, on appeal, the Washington State Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court to consider a medical necessity defense. The trial court recognized an affirmative defense of medical necessity by a preponderance of the evidence. The trial court also recognized that the defendant reasonably believed the use of marijuana was necessary to minimize the effects of his disease. This was the first case in the nation where a court approved the medical necessity defense.

These rulings resulted in John’s client being absolved of any changes.

Client Reviews

I have never been a fan of Lawyers but after working with John Murphy over a period of 6 weeks, looking at the pros and cons of legal action, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the role a good lawyer plays in today’s world. John asked very clear and focused questions to make sure I was aware of all of the ramifications of the potential action. I felt that I was more than adequately informed regarding the steps any action would take which included realistic timeframes. John is a teacher as well as an excellent lawyer. He does not assume that there is a level of understanding of the legal process. He checks regularly to make sure that you and he are on the same path. I would recommend John, without any hesitation, to anyone considering legal action against a governmental entity. This can be a very difficult process and it takes a lawyer of stature to get the attention of governmental agencies and John, with his Irish tenacity, is just that Lawyer.

- Peter Browning

Because of the industry in which I work, I deal with dozens of attorneys, for both our clients and for ourselves in a very broad spectrum of practice areas including personal injury, employment issues and business litigation. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in judging lawyers. Of course, a good lawyer knows the law in the area in which he practices. But equally important, he must understand people's needs - not just that of his clients, but of the opposing parties and their attorneys. Lastly, he needs to have the experience to know the most efficient and effective approach. We have historically used various attorneys for various practice areas, but over time John has become our one-stop person for virtually all of our legal needs. He has an uncanny ability to assess a situation, know what needs to be done and get it done efficiently. He is truly amazing.

- Maria

We were referred by a friend and ended up becoming very close friends with John. Stuck in a hopeless situation John's firm was reluctant to take the case, but John believed in the underdog and fought with both gloves on for over 2 years. We ended up getting more than expected! John kept in constant communication with us the whole time and was always honest and straightforward, but more than that, he really cared about our situation and us personally. Rarely do you meet a man with so much heart. We really can't say enough about John' s character. Such a kind man, yet had both guns loaded and ready to fire. We love you John Murphy and would recommend you to anyone.

- Jack and Kim

Over the past several years, John litigated an incredibly difficult matter for my family and I. The circumstances of this matter affected our life greatly (where we lived, our financial future), and it was an incredibly stressful time for our family. There is no way that we could have made it through this matter so successfully if it were not for John's expertise and careful handling of our case. There were times throughout the case that we were stressed and worried about the outcome, but John's excellent communication throughout the process assured us that we were in great hands. The things that stood out to us were how carefully he handled our case. There was no moment when we felt like this case was not important to him (and heaven knows it was important to us!). It's a great feeling to feel like the person handling your legal matters cares about your future as much as you do.

The second thing that stood out to us was how thoroughly he handled our case. I have absolutely no worries or doubts that any stones were left unturned, or that there are any loose ends to be tied up. I also do not think that we could have secured a better outcome with any other attorney. Especially because we have never been involved in this type of legal matter before, its a fantastic feeling to know (and feel) that it was handled thoughtfully, carefully, thoroughly, and well.

Overall, we would not hesitate to recommend John to anyone in need of an expert litigator, or even anyone who simply needed legal advice. Our experience went above and beyond what we had hoped for, and while we definitely hope not to need an attorney in the future, if we did there is no doubt of whom we would use.

- Kate

Mr. Murphy defended me against a wrongful death lawsuit in which multiple plaintiffs were seeking damages in excess of $3 million dollars. It was a devastating experience for me and my family that we managed to survive with the help of Mr. Murphy. The ordeal began with a fatal car accident in February of 2006 and culminated in a three week jury trial in June of 2009. Over the course of 3 ½ years Mr. Murphy did an excellent job managing our case through witness interviews, interrogatories, requests for production, depositions, settlement discussions, mediation, focus groups, trial preparation and a three week jury trial which resolved in our favor. We couldn't have done it without Mr. Murphy. He's a very accomplished attorney.

- Steve

John was able to turn a horrible situation into one that was most tolerable. He has an amazing intellect and yet can hold an informative lay conversation with his clients. John is truly the best at what he does!


John's record shows what an outstanding attorney he is; it is his right hand that I would like to give recognition to. This is someone special that works in the trenches with John daily. This lady, and I mean lady in every sense of the word, is the rock of John's office. Linda Nevares, John's Legal Assistant, handles everything from answering the phone with her warm welcoming voice to having every document in order. Linda just naturally makes you feel welcome from the first phone call you make for an appointment until the day you sign those final papers. I just want to say Thank You for all of your professional and personable help, I couldn't have gotten through it without you Linda.

- Diane

I was referred to John W. Murphy by a friend and was grateful that he was who I had the opportunity to work with. I have not had previous experience with wanting or needing an attorney in the past, John made me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. He was assuring and followed through with questions regarding my case as well as very prepared. I would highly recommend John for anyone who needs an attorney.

- Katherine

John did an excellent job in taking care of my case for me. I had an issue with an insurance company and a body shop who were taking advantage of me. Once I hired John things got resolved. I now have a vehicle and am satisfied. I would hire him again and recommend him to family and friends.

- Insurance client

John Murphy is a hard worker, and he comes well prepared. He does what he says, yet never acts in haste. I wouldn't hesitate to use his services again.

- Vincent

John came into my life during one of my worst times. He was recommended by a close friend who I thoroughly trusted and I am grateful that I got the attention, effort and genuine concern of this man. He directed a course of action that I wouldn’t have taken had I not felt comfortable and confident of his skills. Having had little experience with the legal system, I had lots of anxiety. John guided me through it all with ease. I let him take the wheel so to speak, that kind of trust is rare. My outcome was favorable and I owe it to John’s expertise of the law and his hard work.

- Nancy

Best attorney in Skagit Valley! John is an attorney that will be with you thru thick and thin. He is not a typical lawyer and is a true expert in law. His negotiation skills are superb. He is always on task and takes a true interest in his clients. John Murphy’s expertise saved my life.

- Robyn

John has represented me both personally and professionally. No matter what the case may be he spends the time to make sure he understands all the facts and issues so he can apply the law to protect his client. John is a knowledgeable and zealous advocate on behalf of his client. His reputation in the legal community is impeccable. I would highly recommend him to anyone in need of an attorney.

- Mark

John Murphy has represented me in a personal injury case, which resulted in a very favorable outcome for a soft tissue injury. A property line dispute that concluded with summary judgment in our favor. John was very detail oriented, attentive, and knowledgeable in all areas of these cases, which definitely had alot to do with how successful he was. This had much to do with why we chose John for our professional matter. This matter was highly emotional and consisted of dealing with State Licensing issues with our place of business, which has been in my family for many years. Being on the verge of license revocation, and possible criminal charge against myself, it was a very delicate matter which needed to be handled immediately and without delay. John was above and beyond on top of things before we even knew what we were dealing with. He was communicating with Departments of State attempting to resolve the matter through informal dispute resolution versus an expensive and lengthy administrative hearing process. He was successful and in a timely matter due to his attentiveness and professionalism he showed the State Licensing Dept. as our representative. I can comfortably say we would not have our business today if not for John Murphy. John also, as my friend, helped immensely with calming my emotional state throughout this time. I was dealing with alot of anxiety and panic attacks which seemed overwhelming at times. John and Linda were always available to me for reassurance, during business hours and weekends, too! John always said that the most important thing was my health, and helped me to get in touch with therapists for my needs. The storm has passed for now, but John and Linda still check in to see how I am doing. I am truly blessed and eternally grateful for John Murphy, as my attorney and my friend. He is, by far, the most competent, knowledgeable, and thorough attorney there is, in my opinion. I would not hesitate to recommend him in any matter whatsoever.

-Personal Injury Client

John Murphy was retained by my husband, now deceased, to represent him in a malpractice suit about five years ago. He and John Murphy had both practiced law in Skagit County for many years. During that time my husband always spoke of John with the highest respect, and often said to me that John was the best attorney in Skagit County. Thus when my husband was sued for malpractice, he stated that since he wanted to retain the best possible legal representation , he would hire John Murphy. Throughout this extremely convoluted, sensitive, and difficult lawsuit, John always acted with high intelligence, ingenuity, knowledge of the law, and thorough attention to detail. The suit was dismissed in April, 2014, We felt we had received excellent service from John Murphy, and I would highly recommend him as an attorney.