Lawyer Selected to Monitor Washington County’s Troubled Public Defender System

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
February 2, 2006 12:00 am

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February 2, 2006

Appointment Follows ACLU Lawsuit Over Lack of Adequate Counsel for the Poor

SEATTLE — Seattle attorney Jeffery Robinson has been selected to monitor Grant County’s compliance with terms of a settlement agreement to improve the County’s public defender system. The settlement came in a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Columbia Legal Services brought against the county for failing to provide indigent felony defendants with effective assistance of counsel. It was announced today that Robinson will monitor compliance over the six-year term of the agreement.

“The right to be represented by an attorney is essential to a fair trial,” said Julya Hampton, the ACLU of Washington’s Legal Program Director. “This right means not just having a warm body, but having an effective attorney. We are very pleased that Grant County is taking steps to make this fundamental right a reality.”

The ACLU and Columbia Legal Services filed its class action lawsuit against Grant County in April 2004 on behalf of indigent individuals accused of felony offenses and a Grant County taxpayer. The lawsuit argued that Grant County public defenders carried excessive caseloads and often were assigned cases they were not qualified to handle. As a result, many indigent defendants were denied effective counsel.

The lawsuit was settled in November 2005. Grant County agreed to improve the quality of its public defense system and to comply with standards endorsed by the Washington State Bar Association. This is the first time a county public defense system in Washington will be subject to comprehensive monitoring.

Robinson is an experienced and widely respected criminal defense lawyer at Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, according to the ACLU. He has served in a supervisory capacity at a number of public and nonprofit organizations, including an appointment as auditor of the Seattle Police Department intelligence files. In a 2003 profile of Robinson’s career, the Seattle Times hailed him as “one of the best problem solvers in Seattle.”

Robinson has earned numerous honors, including selection by the King County Bar Association as Lawyer of the Year (2003), selection by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the top 100 Black lawyers in America (2003) and election to the American College of Trial Lawyers (2004).

Robinson has degrees from Marquette University and Harvard University Law School. He holds a faculty position at the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga., and has held leadership roles at both the Washington and National Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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