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James J. White

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Phone: (253) 203-1645

1019 Pacific Ave, #701
Tacoma, Washington 98402


James has focused his career on criminal defense. He has extensive experience in DUI defense, felony criminal defense, domestic violence defense, assault defense, drug defense and various other crimes. He has negotiated thousands of DUI and criminal defense cases to positive outcomes for his clients. He has successfully defended dozens of criminal defense cases in courtroom trials.

James’ academic career began with him as Valedictorian for his High School in 1987. He lettered in basketball, baseball, track and cross country. He attended UC Berkeley where he was a member of ACE (Association of College Entrepreneurs) and majored in Sociology with an English minor (Creative writing). He scored in the 99.9% on the LSAT (the national test to attend law school) placing him in the top 6 individuals in the nation. He participated in both Moot Court and Client Counseling competitions wherein he was a finalist with his partner (and now business partner) Derek M. Smith.


James' legal career began in 1995 working for the Department of Assigned Counsel (DAC) in Tacoma, WA. Even before he was a lawyer, James wrote legal briefs for the Municipal Court Unit. James quickly created a reputation for himself for his creative, exciting and attention getting prose. Judges commonly ruled in his favor and seemed invigorated by his fresh writing style. Judges began to refer to him jokingly as “Mr. Aghast and Perplexed” quoting from one of his legal briefs. James soon moved into a courtroom practice leading to trials.

James rapidly won a quick succession of trials resulting in the prosecutor’s office nicknaming him “the gun.” James won assorted cases from firearms, to violation of no contact orders to mere theft. In fact, he won acclaim for defeating a universally scorned prosecutor. It should be noted that after he defeated her the first time the prosecutor resorted to cheating in a rematch second case. She submitted a portion of a legal case decision to the judge omitting a portion that changed the meaning of the case to exactly the opposite (imagine leaving the word “not” out of a sentence). James identified the fraud and had the Judge overturn the jury’s conviction of his client because the jury had been misinformed as to the law. The prosecutor soon had to move onto a new position in King County where James would defeat her again later in his career.


He also made a number of Constitutional challenges to local Tacoma ordinances including the Waterfront Noise Ordinance for being void for vagueness and overbroad, the Tacoma Weapon’s Statute for punishing non-criminal activity (a man had a knife for work while in his garage—the case was dismissed), and the then domestic violence aggravated sentence standard promulgated by the municipal court prosecutor’s office for being a violation of the separation of powers clause (only the legislature, not the executive, can make laws. Greater punishment for certain crimes is legislative).

In 1997 he moved to the Associated Counsel for the Accused (ACA) in King County. At ACA he was quickly promoted to the felony unit, where he negotiated and tried cases before the King County Superior Court. James was undefeated in felony trial during his two year rotation. To remain undefeated, James had to seek redress in the Court of Appeals to overturn a conviction because a law enforcement officer engaged in a pattern of deception to remain on the jury. Serving as a public defender through 2004, he worked mainly on DUI and Domestic Violence cases which included a number of seriously violent domestic violence allegations.

James was selected by ACA to serve as the lead counsel in King County District Court for the Mental Health Court. The King County Mental Health Court serves as a model for mental health courts in this and other states. There James was awarded for his compassionate work with mentally-ill criminal defendants. James was surprised at the efficacy of many modern medications. He also became very aware of the glaring deficiencies in the legal systems and medical systems treatment of mentally ill individuals.

In 2004, James returned to handling Tacoma criminal defense and Pierce County criminal defense cases. James also worked in Federal immigration law at that time defending the forced removal of persons accused of crimes. This work made James very familiar with immigration consequences for criminal convictions and how to work around those consequences.

He also handled a number of asylum matters for persons fearing to return to their home country because they might be killed because of their race, religion or social group. In addition, James helped families reunite through more conventional marriage and family based visas. Lastly, he helped businesses acquire skilled immigrant workers (think programmers) and immigrant investors set up businesses to employ US workers.

Then, in 2009, James moved to a private criminal defense firm in downtown Seattle working almost exclusively in DUI defense, including DOL hearings. James learned every trick and intricate detail that can be examined and argued in DUI cases. After learning these skills and a number of skills related to owning and running his own business, James founded the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC in April of 2011.

James, through Smith & White, PLLC, continues to defend nearly any type of criminal case. James has assisted his partner with defending multiple Murder allegations neither resulting in a conviction.

He is available for private hire but also handles a number of public defense matters. Smith & White, PLLC provides reasonably priced, high quality defense and thus does not work Pro Bono. James has volunteered his legal expertise in immigration matters at the Tacoma nonprofit organization Centro Latino. He has coached youth basketball and soccer on Vashon where he resides with his two sons. He has taken up playing soccer and dances Salsa and Disco.

Past Employment Positions

King County District Court for the Mental Health Court, Counsel

Pro Bono Activities

Volunteer, Tacoma nonprofit organization Centro Latino