Brett Purtzer

Brett Purtzer

Brett Purtzer began his law career in 1987 after graduating from the University of Puget Sound Law School in Tacoma where he was member of the Law Review and The Order of the Barristers. After working in Seattle for an insurance defense firm, Brett quickly learned that he’d rather represent people over corporations. Since moving to Tacoma, and for the past 25 years, he has represented individuals in both criminal and civil matters and has represented lawyers, judges, and health care professionals in disciplinary matters before the Washington State Bar Association, the Judicial Conduct Commission, and the Medical Quality Assurance Commission. He has represented clients in Washington, Oregon, California, and Wyoming.  While he is a Pierce County attorney, his trial experience goes well beyond Tacoma area.

Brett represents individuals charged with criminal matters in Washington state, federal, and military courts. His practice ranges from representing individuals charged with misdemeanors to death penalty offenses.   Brett has obtained not guilty verdicts multiple times in felony cases including rape, child rape, child molestation, assault, kidnapping, perjury, false statements, and in misdemeanor cases charging DUI, reckless and negligent driving, assault, trespass and shoplifting. Many of these cases have been won pre-trial when Brett has been able to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges. Several of Brett’s acquittals were self-defense cases which then required the state to pay his legal fees.

Brett has represented several law enforcement and military officers in criminal cases including first degree murder, child rape, assault and perjury. He has also represented law enforcement officers in simultaneous employment matters arising as a result of their criminal charges. After successfully representing one law enforcement officer, he not only obtained a not guilty verdict but also successfully assisted the officer in obtaining his job back after being suspended for almost a year.

In addition to representing individuals in criminal cases, Brett has an active civil practice that includes representing persons in personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights and employment cases. His personal injury verdicts included the then, at the time, largest dog bite verdict in Pierce County as well as several substantial verdicts for serious auto accidents. He has also obtained substantial settlements for individuals who have suffered severe maritime injuries as well as families who have suffered the devastating effects of the wrongful death of a family member. The wrongful death cases have been filed against local jails and taverns that negligently failed to protect the inmates and patrons, resulting in tragic deaths.

Civil rights litigation is another area where Brett has successfully represented individuals against state and local law enforcement agencies who have violated his client’s constitutional rights. After resolving these cases, Brett’s clients felt vindicated for the treatment they received when the offending parties sworn mission was to protect, not to abuse.

Brett also represents individuals who have suffered the devastating effects of sexual abuse after being placed in the care of state agencies and foster homes where they believed they would be protected and free from harm. Knowing how to treat those who have been violated, and being able to provide them comfort in a truly uncomfortable setting, is one of the hallmarks of Brett’s representation of these very special people.
A lot of lawyers claim to be trial attorneys, but unlike those who have trouble finding the courthouse, Brett regularly tries criminal and civil trials in both state and federal court. In addition to his active trial practice, Brett frequently argues appeals in all three divisions of the Court of Appeals and the Washington State Supreme Court as well as in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, Oregon, and California.

In addition to his legal practice, Brett is often asked to speak at legal seminars on the area of legal ethics and criminal law. He is active in the local and federal bar associations having served as the President of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association and as a current co-chair of the Federal Bar Association pro bono committee. These are but a few of the positions Brett has held throughout his years as one of Washington’s preeminent lawyers.

Brett is proud to be a lawyer and has the skill and dedication to take any case to trial if that’s what’s needed to achieve the right result. He looks forward to representing all those in need to make certain that justice prevails.

In his spare time, Brett enjoys spending time with his wife and their two children. He’s an avid skier and triathlete, and enjoys boating on the Puget Sound and in Canada.

Memberships and Awards

  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers
  • Past President, Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association
  • Trustee, Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association
  • Member, Advisory Board for Department of Assigned Counsel
  • Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative
  • Trustee, Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Washington
  • Co-Chair for Federal Bar Association Pro Bono Committee
  • Member, Washington Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Washington Association of Justice
  • Highest Rating (AV) by Martindale Hubbell

Licensed to Practice in Following Courts

  • United States Supreme Court
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Washington State Supreme Court

Recent Results

Not Guilty
  • April 26, 2017

Brett Purtzer just convinced a jury to find his client not guilty of unlawfully displaying a weapon (a handgun) in Tacoma Municipal Court. The client was looking at a lengthy jail term and was very pleased with Mr. Purtzer's effort in proving that he was acting in self-defense. This is the second time the Hester Law Group has obtained a not guilty verdict for this same client. Roughly six years ago, Lance Hester and Casey Arbenz convinced a jury to find the client not guilty of trespassing in the second degree.

Exceptionally Low Sentence
  • April 20, 2017

Brett Purtzer recently defended a case where his client had been convicted of five counts of first degree assault - two of which included a mandatory five-year (consecutive) sentencing enhancement. The client was likely to receive a 60+ year sentence. Mr. Purtzer convinced the judge to impose an "exception downward" sentence of 18 years.

Old Charges and Convictions Expunged
  • August 10, 2016

Brett Purtzer successfully assisted an out-of-state client seeking to have old charges and convictions expunged and vacated from an incident out of Steilacoom Municipal Court.

Domestic Violence Assult - Not Guilty
  • June 17, 2016

Brett Purtzer obtained a verdict of NOT GUILTY following a jury trial. His client was accused of domestic violence assault and Mr. Purtzer convinced the jury that the client acted in self-defense.

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