Case, Client, & Legal Intern News
The Federal Defender Office represented a young man charged with setting a fire outside of the Seattle Police Department East Precinct during last summer’s racial (in)justice protests. Our client was just 19 years old at the time he joined others in setting the fire. While he was originally charged with arson, a count that carries a five-year mandatory-minimum sentence, he pled guilty to a conspiracy count. The government recommended a sentence of 47 months and we recommended a sentence of time served (9 months). Judge Coughenour considered our client’s youth, his extraordinary remorse, and his extraordinary potential in sentencing him 20 months of custody. The judge encouraged our client to pursue higher education, and invited him to call the judge he needed help in accessing educational opportunities. While we wish he were out of custody today, we are grateful that he has only a few more months in custody before he transitions to the halfway house. His defense team included Tacoma investigator Stacey Brownstein, Seattle paralegals Suzie Strait and Emily Ziel, and Seattle AFD Corey Endo.
This month brought to conclusion a case involving a woman who was threatened and coerced by her co-defendant into creating a “lascivious” video involving a child. She was originally charged with production of child pornography and facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison after her co-defendant was arrested when seen texting about child abuse on a flight to California. Our client is an abuse victim herself with cognitive and mental health challenges and underwent a competency evaluation during the proceedings. After almost four years of pretrial litigation, and with the help of highly skilled psychological and forensic experts, the defense team was able to resolve the case with a plea to a reduced charge. On May 16, the U.S. District Court in Tacoma sentenced our client to six years in prison, six years below the Government’s sentencing recommendation. The defense team consisted of Tacoma AFD Colin Fieman, Seattle AFD Greg Murphy, Tacoma investigator Stacey Brownstein, Tacoma paralegals Amy Strickling & Julie Valencia and Tacoma AFD Jerome Kuh.
The Federal Defender Office represented a woman charged with making counterfeit Xanax pills and selling them on the dark web. While the pandemic dragged on, so did this case. Our client had been on pretrial services supervision for 18 months by the time we reached sentencing. During that time, she had made significant strides in achieving a sober, healthy life. Because of her accomplishments, Probation and the Government changed their recommendations from a year in custody to a probationary sentence. Our client was particularly grateful for these recommendations because, as a transgender woman, she would have faced real and serious dangers in custody. In sentencing her to Probation, Judge Coughenour recognized these dangers and indicated that he would be loath to sentence a transgender person to a custodial sentence. We are all grateful that she is able to continue on her healthy path in the community.
FPD Client is Thriving and Playing Music After his Release!
Arnie Bock had served about 10 years of his sentence at a Federal Medical Center before he was granted compassionate release at the end of 2020. While in custody, he was struggling to properly manage complex medical conditions. Unfortunately, he became very ill when he contracted COVID-19 shortly before his release. Upon release he was transported back to the Seattle area but the lasting impact of COVID-19 made him extremely weak, limiting his mobility and ability to care for himself. He was denied housing, became homeless, and was beginning to decompensate medically. Arnie lacked social support and wondered if life would be better if he just went back into custody. His team at the FPD worked tirelessly to get him admitted to the hospital to stabilize his medical conditions and work with physical therapy. Arnie was referred to several social service agencies that helped him get back on his feet. In May of 2021 Arnie moved into his new home in Tacoma where he has been reunited with his passion for music. He is rebuilding his guitar collection and enjoys playing outdoors in the beautiful garden surrounding his home. Arnie is now hopeful about his future and happy to be a free man!
Please check out Arnie’s tunes here:
Legal Intern News:
Alek Johnson, a former intern, received a certificate of recognition from the Washington Defender Association for her leadership on the Bail Jump bill. Alek is now working as a public defender for Snohomish County. Congrats Alek and thanks for all your hard work!
The FPD Welcomes 4 New Law Interns!