Monthly News!

October News!

DREAM, Staff, Constitution Day & Intern News!





DREAM Graduation!

EK graduated from DREAM in October. He had fled the district while facing charges for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy. Once found, he was detained and at the FDC became sober. Although there was some nervousness about how he would do when released and in DREAM given this history, EK was a rock star. He maintained his sobriety, found work, got his license, took care of other legal matters, grew flowers, adopted animals, and strengthened ties with his family. He is looking forward to moving to be closer to his wife’s family in Oregon. We wish him all of the best and cannot wait to see what he accomplishes next. Congratulations!


Staff News:

On October 4, 2023, Chief Appellate Supervisor Vicki Lai and Tacoma AFD Becky Fish attended the Seattle University Law School’s Public Interest Externship Fair, where they met with enthusiastic law students about extern opportunities with our office, including several students who submitted their externship applications after learning about the office at the Fair and who will join us Spring semester.



Vanessa Pai-Thompson is leaving the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington after nine years with the office. Having accepted a position with Planned Parenthood’s Public Policy & Litigation department, Vanessa will continue to use her enormous talents to fight for individual rights. Vanessa has been the person people turn to for help analyzing difficult legal questions, for plant advice, for a shoulder to cry on, and for company on days when court did not go as we wanted or when we were stood up for a date. She has shown unending compassion for our clients and thought of ways to bring a little more dignity to the process, such as by providing clients with clothes so they do not have to leave the courthouse in jail clothes. In addition to her casework, Vanessa has been a mentor to younger lawyers and law student interns, and has devoted countless hours to community-outreach programs, including Civics Day and Youth Law Day. We will miss you Vanessa!


On October 24, 2023, Chief Appellate Supervisor Vicki Lai was invited by the UW Law School to participate in a panel discussion about the “Tools for Effective Legal Extern Supervision” and thereafter spoke with UW Law students at UW Law’s Public Interest Externship Fair. Vicki was joined at the FPD table by former extern Abby Gellman, now a UW 3L. Vicki was delighted to reconnect with several of the office’s former lega lexterns and former undergrad intern, Jonah Haseley, now a 1L at UW, who stopped by to say “hello” and to give school/career updates.

Constitution Day:

The Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington hosted Constitution Day for the Fifth Grade Class of Orca K-8 at the Seattle Courthouse on October 6, 2023. Originally designed as a way to recognize Constitution Day each September, the event brings local fifth grade classes to federal courthouses to participate in a mock trial; meet judges; attorneys, court staff, and other legal professionals; tour the courthouse, and learn more about the criminal legal system. This was the first time the event has been held since 2019. Each student had an opportunity to participate in a scripted mock trial in the case of People v. Pat Morton. Students performed as judges, clerks, defense counsel, prosecutors, and witnesses. Some lucky students were assigned to be jurors and got to decide whether the accused should be convicted under the reasonable doubt standard. Congrats to the second defense team of the day, who managed to achieve a hung jury, and the first team, who learned a little bonus lesson about the right to appeal a guilty verdict. Judge Vaughan and Judge Evanson guided the classes through their mock trials and Johanna Moody-Gatlin from the court’s Judicial Staff led them on a courthouse tour, including a meeting with Arnold Knight from the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Thank you to Seattle AFD Ann Wagner who volunteered and represented our office.

 Intern News:


Welcome Fall Legal Intern:

Legal Intern Updates:

Holly Broadbent, who interned with us as a rising 3L at the University of Washington Law School, summer 2023, shared news that she has accepted a clerkship position with Justice Charles Johnson on the Washington Supreme Court for next Fall. Congratulations Holly!


Arthur Etter, who interned with us summer 2023 as a rising 2L at the University of Michigan, shared his news that he has accepted a summer associate offer with Atshuler Berzon LLP, a well-regarded San Francisco public interest law firm that specializes in labor union representation, constitutional and election law, environmental, civil rights, class action, and impact litigation. Congratulations to Arthur!