From the time he was five years old, Joe Passanise knew he wanted to be a lawyer. He just didn’t know what type of law he wanted to practice. In the late 1980s, Passanise became a runner for Wampler, Wampler & Catt while a student at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State). The firm had been originally founded in 1973 by attorney Dee Wampler and his father Homer. In 1982, Larry Catt joined the two, and they chose to specialize in criminal defense, which wasn’t the norm for law firms then.
Passanise was given the opportunity to help investigate cases and handle communications between the firm, prosecutors, and the courthouse. He learned the legal and operations sides of the business from his friend and mentor, Dee Wampler. The mentor had established himself as a leader in criminal defense after serving as the Prosecuting Attorney for Greene County. In fact, Wampler was one of the youngest prosecutors ever elected to that position.
Wampler taught Passanise how attorneys can positively impact a client’s life. Those facing charges are often dealing with underlying problems like addiction and mental health issues. The firm strived to make a difference in the lives of its clients.
After law school, Passanise joined as an Associate Attorney. In the early 2000s, he and Dee Wampler decided to create a new practice geared more toward trial work and litigation. In 2002, Wampler & Passanise moved to its current location. Taylon Sumners joined the attorneys as an intern and paralegal in 2015, splitting her time between the two while putting herself through law school. She graduated from Washburn University School of Law, the same school from which her mentor, Passanise, also graduated—both with honors.
Dee Wampler died suddenly in 2021 while working a trial with Passanise, who was then the Managing Partner, and Sumners, who became an Associate Attorney in 2020. The legacy of helping individuals find positive life outcomes endures and is the firm’s north star. The decades have taught Passanise the value of positive mentorship and is the driving principle behind the law firm’s multi-year partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.
When residents of the Springfield area and throughout Missouri struggle with serious criminal matters, they turn to the award-winning attorneys at Wampler & Passanise for legal assistance. For decades, our criminal defense firm has provided zealous representation to adults and juveniles charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.
We believe your goals and opportunities shouldn’t be held hostage by one mistake. You can rely on us to pursue all legal options as we work to protect your future.
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Joseph S. Passanise and Taylon Sumners have a deep understanding of state and federal criminal laws. They have successfully represented individuals in a range of matters spanning DWI violations to white collar criminal charges to drug offenses and other serious violations. Trial-tested, they provide high-quality advocacy in municipal, state and federal courts.
Longtime residents of the area, Joe and Taylon work to better the community. They deliver speeches at churches, colleges and professional organizations, discussing social justice and safe practices. Joe volunteers his time at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks and the Theta Chi Iota Beta alumni board of directors. Taylon serves on the boards for the American Heart Association Go Red for Women and the Greene County Historical Sites Commission.
Our lawyers view their profession as their vocation, striving to improve lives in and out of the criminal justice system. Their experience and local insight can give you an advantage when you are grappling with a challenging legal issue.
For personalized legal guidance, call our office at 417-882-9300 or submit this form to schedule a meeting with an attorney.