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WDA's 2012 Award Winners to Be Honored at Defender Conference, April 27th

Dan Fessler, Yakima Department of Assigned Counsel: Gideon Award for his work on the WSBA Council of Public Defense (CPD) relating to CrR 3.1, the updating of the WSBA Standards for Public Defense Services, and the WSBA Performance Guidelines.  As President-elect, President, and now as Past President, Dan has taken a leadership role representing WDA members far beyond the regular call of duty.  He has worked extensively with the CPD to ensure that the standards for the court rule and the implementation process are practical for the defenders who will be required to implement them, while also ensuring they protect the rights of defendants to effective representation. 


Nancy Collins, Washington Appellate Project: President’s Award for her notable work that has significantly changed public defense practice statewide through three recent Washington State Supreme Court decisions: 

  • State v. Sandoval, holding that criminal defense attorneys must provide legal advice to their clients about immigration consequences of a plea; 
  • State v. Jaspar, holding that DWLS Certifications are testimonial and subject to the 6th Amendment confrontation clause; and  
  • State v. Monday, which creates a new standard when appellate courts review cases where a prosecutor appeals to racial bias.


Greg Link, Washington Appellate Project: President’s Award for his notable work that has significantly changed public defense practice statewide, including:

·         BECCA contempt cases in which the court clearly defines the limited scope of the inherent contempt power held by judges to ensure it is not used to short circuit the requirements of criminal contempt;

·         PRA litigation work defending 6th Amendment limitations on disclosure which compromise the defense’s ability to represent clients in ongoing proceedings; and 

·         Work over the past 10 years to force the State to prove prior criminal history and the comparability of out-of-state offenses beginning with State v. Ford and continuing to the present in cases like State v. Larkins and PRP of Rowland.


Alex Frix, Thurston County Office of Assigned Counsel: Certificate of Recognition for Innovations in Courts for his instrumental work in getting Washington’s first Veterans Court up and running. Alex serves as the sole public defender for all the veterans once they enter the treatment court while still maintaining his felony caseload. He also does significant outreach in attempt to help implement Veterans Courts in other counties.


Daryl Rodrigues, Colville Tribe: Certificate of Recognition for Innovations in Courts for his tireless work to provide Colville Tribal Members with criminal defense services which meet or exceed all professional standards despite overwhelming budgetary and political limitations. In March 2012, in collaboration with Washington’s law schools, Daryl organized a first of its kind symposium to examine the role of public defenders and the delivery of public defense services in Indian Country.


Jason Schwarz, Snohomish County Public Defender: Certificate of Recognition for Innovations in Courts for his work in initiating and helping to establish a Snohomish County Mental Health Court.  Jason is credited with being the driving force in helping to shepherd support for the new court despite opposition from the prosecutors and concerns expressed by other components of the criminal justice system. 


Kristen Gestaut, Associated Counsel for the Accused: Certificate of Recognition for a Defender with Less than 5 Years’ Experience for her outstanding work not only on her own cases, but also in volunteering to help other more experienced attorneys work on their most demanding cases. Her work has been cited as the major reason for numerous dismissals or acquittals in major felony cases, including a felony case that was dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct. 


Robert O’Neal, Snohomish County Public Defender: Certificate in Recognition for His Work in State v. T.H. in which he successfully represented a San Juan County youth charged in the death of his mother.  A comprehensive resolution was crafted to provide the youth an appropriate punishment and the ability to rejoin his community when he reaches his mid-20s.  Rob also was successful in convincing the judge to waive $277,000 in restitution and was commended on the record for the quality of his briefings, his professionalism, and his courtesy. 


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