Updated: Oct. 9, 2020

Council on Public Defense

The Council on Public Defense (CPD) unites representatives of the bar, private and public criminal defense attorneys, current and former prosecutors, the bench, elected officials and the public to address new and recurring challenges that impact the public defense system. The CPD educates and informs policy makers on issues that need reform and provides concrete proposals that are enhanced by the comprehensive nature of the CPD membership. The CPD is guided by its  Charter and meets regularly throughout the year.

Response by the WSBA Council on Public Defense to the Supreme Court's Call to Action after the Death of George Floyd

 

On June 4, 2020, Washington's Supreme Court called on the legal community to recognize that we all bear responsibility for the continuing injustices faced by Black Americans. The Council on Public Defense stands with the Supreme Court and acknowledges the unique role public defenders play in eradicating injustice. Read the Council's full racial justice statement here.

Council on Public Defense Initiatives

The CPD has accomplished a number of initiatives since it was established as an advisory committee of the WSBA in 2009. The following are some examples of its work.

Implementation of the Standards for Indigent Defense During the Coronavirus Emergency

In September 2020, the WSBA Board of Governors approved distribution of the Advisory Notice from the WSBA Council on Public Defense regarding Implementation of the Standards for Indigent Defense During the Coronavirus Emergency. The Council is working to support best practices for defenders in Washington during the pandemic. The Advisory Notice is a tool for public defenders to use when determining how to comply with the Standards for Indigent Defense (Standards) while navigating social distancing and health guidelines.  

Defense Resource Packet: Defender Advocacy for Pretrial Release

In November 2019, the WSBA Board of Governors approved distribution of the Defender Resource Packet created by the Council on Public Defense. The Defender Resource Packet is a tool for public defenders to use when representing a client during an initial appearance and detention hearings. The packet includes: 1) a client interview form to prepare for the First Appearance hearing; 2) a CrR(LJ) 3.2 defender advocacy sheet; 3) a sample CrR(LJ) 3.2 release order to request the judge to issue in every case; 4) a list of structural barriers identified by defenders in some jurisdictions around the state; 5) a recent CrR(LJ) 3.2 bench card that was distributed to judges statewide; and 6) a summary of possible effects of pleading guilty. The Defender Resource Packet is a guide and resource for attorneys that reiterates existing court rules and best practices.

Performance Guidelines for Criminal Defense Representation

In June 2011, the WSBA Board of Governors adopted performance guidelines for criminal defense representation. The guidelines are intended to be used as a guide to professional conduct and performance and not meant to be undertaken automatically in every case. In September 2020, the WSBA Board of Governors approved updates to the performance guidelines to include representation of clients charged with being persistent offenders, a small addition regarding requiring familiarity with the court rules relating to discrimination in exercising peremptory challenges, and other minor edits. 

Performance Guidelines for Juvenile Offense Representation

In November 2017, the WSBA Board of Governors adopted performance guidelines for juvenile defense representation. 

Standards for Indigent Defense Services

In September 2011, the WSBA Board of Governors adopted updated standards for indigent defense services as proposed by the CPD and forwarded the standards to the Washington Supreme Court for consideration. The WSBA standards are recommended and not enforceable.

Court Adopted Standards for Indigent Defense Services and Certificate of Compliance

In May 2018, the state Supreme Court ordered adoption of revised standards for indigent defense services. The Court-adopted standards are enforceable. 


Council on Public Defense Membership

The CPD consists of 23 voting members and up to five emeritus members appointed by the WSBA Board of Governors.

Council on Public Defense Leadership

Travis Stearns, Chair
Jason Schwarz, Vice-Chair

Council on Public Defense Members

Deborah Ahrens, Seattle University School of Law
Nicholas Allen, Columbia Legal Services
Matthew Anderson, King County Inquest Program Lead Attorney
Justin Bingham, City of Spokane Prosecutors Office
Bob Boruchowitz (emeritus), Seattle University School of Law
Jason Bragg
Ann Christian (emeritus)
Rachel Cortez, Law Office of Rachel Cortez
Judge Patricia Fassett, Cowlitz County Superior Court
Eileen Farley (emeritus)
Louis Frantz
Jaime Hawk, ACLU of Washington
Christie Hedman, Washington Defenders Association
Matthew Heintz, King County Department of Public Defense
Judge Drew Henke, Tacoma Municipal Court
Eric Hsu, Benton County Office of Public Defense
Kathleen Kyle, Snohomish County Public Defender
Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Washington Supreme Court
Joanne Moore, Office of Public Defense
Abraham Ritter, Gonzaga University School of Law
Jason Schwarz, Snohomish County Public Defender Association
Travis Stearns, Vice-chair, Washington Appellate Project
Rebecca Stith, Attorney at Law
Christopher Swaby, The Swaby Law Firm
Natalie Walton-Anderson, King County Prosecuting Attorney
Brenda Williams, University of Washington School of Law

Council on Public Defense Staff

Bonnie Sterken
Equity and Justice Specialist     

Fiscal Year 2020 Minutes