The Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington was opened in Seattle in the Spring of 1975, with seven employees, under the leadership of Federal Defender Irwin Schwartz. We represented clients appearing in federal court in both Seattle and Tacoma. In 1982 Tom Hillier was selected to be the next Federal Defender, and he served for 32 years until his retirement in 2014. During that time the number of clients we represented and the complexity of cases we handled increased, and in 1992 we staffed a separate office in Tacoma, Washington. Tom Hillier also helped with the creation of the Alaska Federal Defender’s Office in 1986 and helped to manage that office for the first five years of its infancy. In 2014 Michael Filipovic was appointed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to be the Federal Defender, and he held that position until March 2022. In April 2022, Colin Fieman was sworn in as the new Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington. We now have 55 combined employees in our Seattle and Tacoma offices, including approximately 22 lawyers, 12 paralegals, 6 investigators, 1 social worker, 3 CJA support staff, 4 administrative staff, 2 tech support employees, and 5 case management assistants.
The Western District of Washington includes all Washington counties located between the crest of the Cascade Mountains, west to the Pacific Ocean, and from the Canadian border south to the Columbia River, which borders Washington and Oregon.
We represent the majority of indigent people targeted or charged with federal criminal prosecution. We often get appointed before a charge is filed and an arrest is made, and we continue to represent our clients through all stages of the proceedings, including trials, appeals, and post-conviction.
Our office supports and provides training to private attorneys appointed to represent indigent clients pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). This website is in part designed to provide that support through a password-protected portal containing a brief bank, motions templates, and other resources for the CJA.
This website is also designed for clients, providing practical information about the legal process and resources in the community for treatment, education, employment, and social services.
The search feature at the top right portion of the page is there to help you find specific information on our website. You can utilize the search bar from any page on the site.
This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed as formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.