I stand at the floor-to-ceiling windows leaning my head against the glass staring down the building at the tiny cars below. How many floors? Maybe forty. The man behind the big desk is talking to mom. She is stressed. We are all stressed. He's a lawyer and he is going to help. I wonder how long it would take to fall forty floors? How would that feel?
The pilots hear the radio warn of the storm at the end of the runway. Other pilots turn away, but these pilots are late getting home. And the airline has a schedule to keep. Nobody tells them to turn away. So the pilots make a choice: fly into a storm at the end of the runway. As the plane heaves in all directions, they laugh about passengers bouncing around. The black box records this.
Sometime later, an NTSB investigator told me it was like a sideways tornado. As the plane approached the runway, the wind shoved it upward, so the pilots reduced power and speed to continue downward. Then just before the runway, the wind reversed direction and hammered the slow-moving plane into the trees below.
Grandma’s kitchen smells like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh-baked bread. I’m not hungry. I feel sick. Supper gets cold on the counter as we gather in the basement: my mom, brother, sister, grandmas, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousin, and grandma's preacher. The basement smells like a Southern-Illinois storm: wet clay and ozone. We watch news reports and then stare out at the angry greenish-black sky silhouetted by bright flashes and pouring rain. Someone upstairs calls the airlines again, and again, and again.
This goes on for seven hours.
Then my aunt comes down the stairs. I see her expression. I panic. Now Mom sees her expression. My aunt kneels, takes Mom's hand .... Then our lives change.
I am glad the man behind the desk is helping Mom. She says over and over that she does not know what to do. Mom deserves help.
I became a lawyer to help people hurt by the careless selfish decisions of others. I became a lawyer to force those with power and money to take responsibility for the harm they caused. I became a lawyer because I remember a time when Mom needed help.
I grew up in Seattle, but my family comes from rural Southern Illinois. My grandparents farmed and operated a grain elevator. Mom and Dad married as soon as Mom graduated from high school. Grandma and Grandpa pushed Dad to get an education, so Mom and Dad headed off to Southern Illinois University where Dad earned an engineering degree. He worked for McDonald Douglas and then, in 1962, Mom and Dad moved to Seattle where Dad joined Boeing. Dad worked long hours at Boeing but somehow found time to work as an accountant for a small business and earn two master’s degrees. Meanwhile, Mom worked long hours as a full-time stay-at-home mom taking care of my brother, sister, and me. Later, Mom worked at Puget Junior High School for a while and then earned an interior design degree and became a talented artist and gardener.
I attended school in the Highline School District. After graduating from Tyee High School, I earned an undergraduate degree from Duke University, a graduate degree from Georgetown University, and a law degree from the University of Washington. I was admitted into the Washington State Bar in 1995 after which I worked as a litigator. In 2003, I founded The Barton Law Firm. In 2014, The Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College ("TLC") admitted me. I refined my trial skills at TLC's twenty-four-day intensive trial-training course on Gerry’s ranch in Wyoming, and I continue refining those skills as an active member of the local TLC group.
I am committed to fighting for my client's justice. I remember a time when my family needed someone to fight for us.
John G. Barton
Duke University, AB, 1987.
Georgetown University, MA, 1990.
University of Washington, JD, 1995.
Public Defender Association, Trial Training Course, 1994.
King County Bar Association, Trial Advocacy Program, 2001.
National Institute for Trial Advocacy, NW Regional Trial Program, 2001.
Trial Lawyers College, Trial College, 2014.
Trial Lawyers College, Regional Seminar - Closing Arguments, 2014.
Trial Lawyers College, Graduate Course I, 2015.
Ongoing Trial Training
Trial Lawyers College, NW Chapter, active member, 2014 to present.
University of Washington Mock Trial Teams, coach, 2019.