Last updated 10/29/2018 at 6:40pm
My name is Samantha Berryessa. I am a sixth generation Californian. My paternal family history hails from northern California where we ranched raising horses and cattle, on a 36,000 acre land grant home. My maternal family farmed sugar beets in Montana and before that, in the south.
Dax Cowart, my husband, is a Texas trial lawyer and former Air Force pilot who served in the war in Vietnam. His paternal side of the family were cattle ranchers and his mother’s family were farmers.
Our marriage is enhanced by our mutual backgrounds and passion for the law. We are both graduates of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming and Dax is on staff at the college.
Fallbrook farm living on our little piece of land and a quiet life in nature, contrast with an often tumultuous busy city trial practice. (My last trial work lasted three weeks in Los Angeles.)
My mid-thirties found me owning a 40 acre mountain ranch with a log cabin solar home, water well and a Search and Rescue trained Morgan horse. As a professional fabric designer and artist, I also worked all kinds of jobs, which has made me a well-rounded attorney.
Now, you would think that living out in the country, life would be peaceful, but soon I had a hiking club cutting my fence to cross country ski. One day I found their lunch trash on my deck and around my horse corral. Once a woman was picking up pinecones in bags while trespassing on my property. When I made her give them back, she was stunned, however didn’t want to give me her address so I could pick all the flowers in her front yard.
Then a large bottled water company sunk a well in a creek and my well dried up. The deer, bear and other creatures had no water either. I had to fight that big company and managed to get an order that the well be capped. Eventually my well had water again, and the stream renewed.
The worst realization I was beginning to experience was that law enforcement does not want to roll out in the middle of nowhere. I was soon to find out this was an even greater problem in that beautiful forest. There was a type of gang quietly buying up land in the area. Children were disappearing from some of the surrounding camps. One day a scraggly man who was my nearest neighbor pulled a 44 revolver on me at a gate; he rammed my car with his truck another time. Calls up the ladder to law enforcement were futile.
One officer told me that it was my decision to move way the heck out there not his; he had a family to protect and he would not be back. An attorney investigated and urged me to sell and get out. That was the first time I realized the hardship, danger and lack of support law enforcement has in curbing crime in remote areas.
In my opinion, law enforcement is simply underfunded and needs more trained personnel and proper vehicles. I was so shocked at this realization that I decided to go to law school. I decided to prosecute criminals.
The nearest law school was 50 miles away. I enrolled and commuted for the first year and then moved. During law school I clerked in both federal and state court subject matters so I could start my own law firm when I graduated.
My practice began in Menifee, where my first case involved the death of a young girl, an only child. It ended in a six figure dollar amount for her parents. They were retired military people who moved out of the area, built a large home and filled it with six adopted siblings from an orphanage.
I moved from Menifee to Fallbrook with my part of the money from that case. My home had an old 50’s golden kitchen. The property was fenced and held an enchanting planting of calla lilies up the driveway along with old avocado trees shading bromeliads. It came with chickens, and parrots flew in to roost at night. Even though I had a Temecula office, I worked remotely most of the time when I wasn’t in meetings or court.
In between this case's proceedings, I had other cases which were mostly death cases Some caused to pedestrians by cars; a case where a man fell to his death while using an unsafe chain saw, leaving three little children and a stay-at-home wife; a WW I veteran whose ankle was hit at Safeway by a line of rusty grocery carts. He was a fit active man wounded, now at home with flesh eating bacteria in the wound and was never be able to use that foot again. There have been so many cases, but this gives you a flavor of what life is like in my world.
Practicing law is interesting because the people I have been honored to meet and help have been brave, loving and hardworking. Their problems become mine and we fight for the best possible outcome for them, for their families.
Today, I am taking wrongful death cases. Additionally, I am also now licensed with the United States Supreme court. Currently I am filing federal trademark applications for people, searching conflicts, consulting, and offer a watchdogging monthly protection of those trademarks. It is a good contrast to the very sad death cases, both of which are satisfying cases.
You can reach me at [email protected] or fill out a no cost form on my website, https://berryessalaw.com/, if you have a case you would like to visit about. This allows me to review your inquiry and checks conflicts before we talk.