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Crash kills lawyer day he pens friend’s endorsement

John Bouma (Credit: Snell & Wilmer)

John Bouma (Credit: Snell & Wilmer)

A prominent Phoenix attorney wrote a letter on the day he died last month to endorse his colleague for the Arizona Supreme Court.

On January 22, John Bouma, 82, of Snell & Wilmer, was struck by two cars on Seventh Street near Orangewood Avenue in Phoenix and was pronounced dead at a hospital around 9 p.m. Hours earlier, he had sent a letter to the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments on behalf of fellow Snell & Wilmer attorney Andrew Jacobs.

“I have known Andrew for many years, and I want to add a note of enthusiastic support,” Bouma wrote.

Jacobs said he and Bouma worked together sporadically over the 17 years Jacobs was at Snell & Wilmer.

Jacobs said that Bouma writing a letter on his behalf was very kind, and he is still affected by his loss.

“I am profoundly saddened by his passing. It’s upsetting to discuss. … He had another good 10-15 years in him,” Jacobs said.

Bouma was well-respected and well-connected throughout Arizona and is credited with growing the Snell & Wilmer law firm from one local office to nine firms across the western U.S. and Mexico, increasing from about 100 attorneys to more than 450. He spent 32 years as head of Snell & Wilmer and represented three Arizona governors, most notably Jan Brewer in 2010 after she signed the controversial SB1070, a wide-ranging measure aimed at giving the state more power to deal with the issue of illegal immigration.

In a post to her Facebook page, Brewer wrote: “John was an extraordinary man and excellent attorney … his commitment to State extended to his long-time effort to help the indigent with legal representation and his impact on the legal profession in Arizona will not be forgotten. RIP John.”

In Bouma’s letter, he talked about Jacobs’ history within the firm.

“Andrew has a first rate mind, is called upon to solve some of our clients’ most difficult problems, and is an extremely dedicated and diligent individual,” Bouma wrote.

Jacobs is one of 11 remaining applicants vying for Justice John Pelander’s seat that will be vacated on March 1. Part of the process in appointing a Supreme Court Justice is an open meeting where members of the public can speak in favor or against any of the applicants, and can also write letters to the commission. Bouma’s letter was sent three days before the applicants were announced and is one of 140 letters the commission received. On February 6, Jacobs made it to the interview stage along with 10 other applicants. Jacobs is only one of two Democrats to apply.

Jacobs said he was privileged to work with Bouma and was “always struck by his judgment and concern for others.”

Former Sen. Jon Kyl and Gov. Doug Ducey knew Bouma as well. Kyl told The Arizona Republic, “He was a good companion, and I will miss him greatly.”

Ducey posted to his Twitter, “[I’m] deeply saddened by news of friend, legal giant, and leader John Bouma. Prayers go out to his family, colleagues at Snell & Wilmer and all who knew him.”

Both Bouma and Jacobs grew up in the Midwest. Bouma in small town Iowa, Jacobs in Illinois. Jacobs was a partner at the Chicago law firm, Jenner & Block for nearly two years before moving to Tucson.

Bouma mentioned Jacobs’ Midwest background in his letter and touched on other qualities Jacobs has that “we would hope to find in our judges.”

“Andrew knows his way around litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and he definitely knows what is going on in the courtroom. … I hope the committee will give Andrew strong and favorable consideration,” he wrote.

On the Snell & Wilmer website, Bouma’s biography reads, “John Bouma, former firm chair, passed away on January 22, 2019 after a long and distinguished legal career and a record of outstanding service to his community. He was an honorable advocate on behalf of his clients, endeavored to be fair, demonstrated a genuine respect for all, worked to elevate the standards of the profession and did so with humility and integrity. We will miss our friend, colleague and mentor.”

There will be a celebration of his life on the afternoon of February 22.

Bouma Letter (Text)

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Tags: John Pelander, John Bouma, Andrew Jacobs, Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona Supreme Court, Snell & Wilmer