Case News, CJA News, Staff News, & Community News
After representing a client on a habeas petition, Seattle AFD Andy Kennedy, Seattle Paralegal Janet Stanton, and Seattle Investigator Jennifer Davis continued to work with and support the client. The client was serving an indeterminate sentence and two years ago the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board (ISRB) denied his pro se application for release and added two years to his minimum term. Andy, Janet, and Jennifer worked with the client to develop a stronger release plan and Andy advocated for him before the ISRB. On January 27, the ISRB unanimously agreed to release the client. Congratulations to all!
Seattle Paralegal Michael Larson was instrumental in securing dismissal of a misdemeanor assault charge for a Tacoma client. Mr. Larson’s work securing services and support for the client persuaded the government that dismissal was the just outcome, and prevented the client from potentially losing their military career. Seattle AFD Vanessa Pai-Thompson, Seattle investigator Jennifer Davis,
and Seattle paralegal Barbara Hughes also contributed to this great result. Wonderful outcome!
The CJA Administration has created a mentor program to train the next generation of CJA panel attorneys. The program has two tiers and is designed to provide new or aspiring CJA attorneys with sufficient guidance to thrive in federal practice. The more intensive tier provides aspiring CJA attorneys with two second chair opportunities for hand-on learning about federal criminal law and procedure. The second tier allows for newly members of the CJA panel to receive 10 hours of advice from experienced practitioners. Both tiers of attorneys are provided with monthly CLEs on federal practice fundamentals. On January 17, 2020, the District Court adopted the CJA Administration’s request to provide compensation for the mentors and the mentees in this program. The CJA Administration has selected, from a competitive pool of qualified applicants, a pilot class of highly qualified, enthusiastic, and diverse attorneys. The CJA Administration thanks our panel attorneys who referred attorneys to apply to the program, provided candid feedback on them, and volunteered to mentor the new members of our CJA community.
Meet our Winter Legal Externs!
Wonji Kerper: I am a 3L at University of Washington Law School. At law school, I am a member of the VIS international commercial arbitration moot court team and the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic. I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to the States in 2015. Although I will be pursuing a career in a different area of law, I applied to the FPD externship because I didn’t want to graduate from law school without having done more to understand the American criminal justice system.
Michael McCorkle: I was born and raised in Washington. I attended University of Washington for my undergrad where I majored in creative writing with a minor in law and policy. Currently, I am a 3L at Seattle University School of Law. I have worked on racial justice issues within the juvenile criminal system as a Calhoun Family Fellow. Additionally, I have developed practice skills within the juvenile immigration system through my work with Kids in Need of Defense. I also founded and preside as president of the Artificial Intelligence Law Society, where we examine the implications and effects of machine learning systems in creating equity and harm in our communities. I am very excited to be spending my final semester of law school working full-time with the FPD Tacoma office. In my free time, I enjoy writing fiction, working on cars, and spending time outdoors with my 10-year-old son.
Jacob Walsh: I was born and raised in Seattle. I went to Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio for a year and then transferred to Washington State University (Go Cougs), where I majored in advertising. Before my senior year in college, I was an undergraduate extern here at the FPD! I also worked as a Rule 9 intern at King County Department of Public Defense last summer. In law school I’ve been a member and on executive board for both Gideon’s Army: Future Public Defenders and the Black Law Student Association. A fun fact about me is that I am named after the Harlem Renaissance artist, Jacob Lawrence (my middle name is Lawrence). When I was born, my uncle bought me a book of Jacob Lawrence’s Great Migration series, signed, “welcome to the world Jacob Lawrence, from Jacob Lawrence.”
Alek Johnson: I am a 3L at Seattle University School of Law. Prior to law school, I studied criminal justice and psychology at the University of Wyoming. After graduating, I moved back to Denver, Colorado, where I was born and raised, and worked at the Denver County Court Criminal Division. I decided to attend law school for a career in public defense after watching public defenders work with their clients and advocate for systemic change in the Denver courts. I’ve previously interned at the Washington Defender Association, the King County Department of Public Defense (SCRAP), and SU’s Youth Advocacy Clinic. I continue to volunteer with WDA on policy changes to Washington’s bail jumping statue and dismantling the criminalization of failure to appear. Outside of my legal activities, I enjoy crafting, particularly knitting and cross-stitching, and hanging out with my two Australian Shepherds, Meeka and Crash.
Seattle AFD Vanessa Pai-Thompson led 2020 Civics Day sessions in six Kent and Renton high schools in collaboration with local community partners. Civics Day offers high school seniors the opportunity to speak with youth who are or have been involved with the juvenile and criminal legal systems, lawyers, and law enforcement officers. Each Civics Day also includes a Know Your Rights workshop and discussion of the criminal legal system, jury service, and voting.
Civics Day was started in 2016 by Twyla Carter, a former public defender, in partnership with the Kent School District. In 2017, Civics Day was expanded to the Renton School District. By 2018, Ms. Carter left her position in the King County public defender system and moved to her current position with the ACLU national office in New York. That year, the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Western District of Washington agreed to partner with Ms. Carter to keep the Civics Day program alive. That partnership continues, with the ACLU of Washington co-sponsoring beginning in 2020.
The FPD’s contribution to Civics Day is consistent with the office's historical commitment to community engagement through speaking at school events and participating in court or bar-related events focused on high school students. Because the students will one day be voters and jurors, it is vital that they learn about civics within the context of the judicial system.
Many organizations in addition to the FPD contributed to making Civics Day possible this year, including: Community Passageways, a nonprofit organization that works directly with youth involved with the criminal justice system; Kent Police Department; King County Department of Public Defense; King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office; King County Sheriff's Office; and Renton Police Department.
Here are some photos from one of the Renton days: