John M. Poswall
Personal Injury Attorney (Retired)
John M. Poswall, now retired, was born in Southampton, England in 1943, and immigrated to the United States at age 10. Alongside his parents, he worked in the agricultural fields picking grapes and peaches. He attended schools in Lodi, Live Oak, and Sacramento, finally settling in West Sacramento for high school at James Marshall (now River City) High School. He attended California State University, Sacramento, graduating with honors in 1966. There, he was Student Body President. Upon graduation he was named Outstanding Student in Government by the department faculty, received the Outstanding Leadership Award, and was named the Outstanding Graduate.
In 1969, John graduated with honors from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, School of Law. He was an editor of the California Law Review and published in a number of areas of law. Upon graduation he was named to the national Order of the Coif.
Returning to Sacramento, John joined Friedman & Collard which he left after a year but returned to five years later. Subsequently the firm became Friedman, Collard & Poswall. During 18 years, ending in 1993, John became one of the top personal injury trial attorneys in Northern California and, in 1985, and every year thereafter, was selected among the first Sacramento attorneys to appear in “Best Lawyers in America.”
In the intervening years of 1971 to 1975, John worked with Karlton, Blease, Vanderlaan & Poswall. There he handled the firm’s personal injury practice – winning his first million dollar verdict in just his fourth jury trial, while not yet 30 years of age – and engaged in public interest and civil liberties litigation for which the firm was known. (Partners Lawrence Karlton subsequently became a Federal Judge and Coleman Blease is an Associate Justice of the Third District Court of Appeal).
In 1993, John and Parker White formed Poswall & White, continuing the full range of personal injury litigation – and community involvement.
- Elected, American Board of Trial Advocates (1982)
- Inducted, American College of Trial Lawyers (1996)
- Distinguished Service Award for Community Service California State University, Sacramento, Alumni Association (1995)
- Sacramento County Bar “Humanitarian of the Year” (1995)
- Sacramento Doctor/Lawyer Group “Lawyer of the Year” (2000)
- “Best Lawyers in America” (1985 to present)
- American Board of Trial Advocates “SCALE” (public service) Award (2003)
- “Superlawyers of Northern California” (2005)
PUBLIC INTEREST ACTIVITIES:
- President, Board of Directors, WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) (2001 – 2002)
- Member, Board of Directors, WEAVE (1989 to 2004)
- Chair, Building Committee
- T. Collins Memorial Counseling Center, WEAVE
- (responsible for acquisition, planning, building, fund raising for WEAVE’s counseling center) (1993 – 1994)
- Chair, Fund Raising Committee WEAVE’s Children Center (1992)
- Chair, Resource Development, WEAVE (1996 – 2000)
- Board of Directors, WIND (Teenage Homeless Assistance) (2001 to present)
- Golden Day Project, Steering Committee (Housing for Homeless Disabled) (2001 to present)
- Trustee, Poswall Family Foundation (charitable trust awarding scholarships to needy students, dispersing
grants and aid to charitable groups) (1998 to present)
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
- Numerous cases on First Amendment rights of high school and college students, pamphleteers and teachers.
- Suit and media appearances resulting in public vote to close Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant.
- Sought and obtained, in state and federal courts, injunctions requiring HMOs to pay for treatment for women with breast cancer. Over a million dollars to cover more than a dozen women was obtained, without charge to any of the women
LECTURES, PRESENTATIONS AND APPEARANCES
- Weekly Talk Show Host: “Poswall on the Law” KSTE radio, 650 AM, 1995-1996
- Instructor: “Law and Mental Health,” American River College
- Grand Rounds, U.C. Davis Medical Center, “Traumatically Induced Pre-Frontal Lobe Injury”
- Anthony Kennedy America Inn of Court, “Leonardini v. Shell Oil Company”
- CTLA 25th Annual Tahoe Seminar, “Lawyers’ Liability for Malpractice, Abusive Practice, and Malicious Prosecution” (March 1990)
- California State Bar, Litigation Section, “Making Civil Liberties Pay: SLAPP Suits, Free Speech & Rule 11” (1992)
- Masters in Trial Program, American Board of Trial Advocates. Cross-examination of the defendant’s expert (1996) and co-commentator on civil trial presentations (2000)
- California State Bar, Education Institute, “The Lawyer as Employer” (November 1996)
- Family Law Section, Sacramento County Bar, “The History of Marriage and the Role of Women”
- ABA Health Law Litigation Section, “Autologous Bone Marrow Breast Cancer Litigation”
- C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law 25th Class Reunion, “Are We Who We Were; And Were We Ever?” (1994)
- Placer County Bar Association, Granlibakken Conference, “Good vs. Evil: Practicing Civil Law in the Public Interest and Making a Pretty Good Living” (April 18-19, 1997)
- Sacramento County Legal Secretaries Association, “Would You Want Your Daughter to Be an Attorney” (1997)
- Sacramento Family Law Bar,”Marketing Divorce at Christmas Time” (2002)
- ABC 20/20, with John Stossel, Academic Freedom/Sexual Harassment CSUS Litigation, May 1995
ARTICLES (by JMP)
- “Fighting for My Life in the Medical System,” Sacramento Bee, Forum Section, January, 1991
- “Would You Hire an Expert to Lose Your Case,” Sacramento County Bar Journal, 1997
- The Lawyers: Class of ’69”, a novel. (see www.thelawyersclassof69.com)
- Articles (about JMP)
- “Taking on the Giants,” Sacramento Bee, January, 1991
- “Someone You Should Know,” KCRA series, 1989
- “Super Lawyers,” Sacramento News & Review, 1989
- “Letter of the Law Sacramento Bee, Some controversy, Sacramento Bee Oct. 27 2003.
- “Class Stoggle”, Sacramento News & Review, Dec. 31, 2003
- “Famed local attorney gained accolades for his first novel,” Elk Grove Citizen, July 9, 2004 Sacramento Bee
Hundreds of articles have appeared over the years about John’s cases, most often in the Sacramento Bee, but also in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine, and as far away as the London Times as well as in legal publications. His cases are also featured in books including: Ralph Nader, No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America; Pring and Canan, SLAPPS: Getting Sued for Speaking Out.