Faculty

Featured Keynote Speaker: 

Ieshaah Murphy
Ieshaah Murphy is an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense and Racial Justice Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (“UDC Law”). Under Professor Murphy’s leadership, the Clinic combats mass incarceration and racial injustice in the criminal legal system through direct representation, community engagement, and strategic action. Prior to joining UDC Law, Professor Murphy practiced as a civil rights attorney and public defender. Most recently, Professor Murphy was a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, focusing on racial justice and criminal legal system transformation. Before the ACLU, Professor Murphy worked for many years as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she supervised attorneys and represented hundreds of indigent children and adults charged with serious offenses. Professor Murphy frequently trains lawyers and law students on various topics related to criminal defense and trial advocacy. She is teaching faculty for several defender training programs and Training Committee Chair for the Black Public Defender Association (BPDA). Originally from Buffalo, NY, Professor Murphy earned her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud

Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud was elected to the Washington Supreme Court in 2012 and re-elected in 2018 after more than 25 years as an accomplished lawyer serving clients across the state.   

As a Supreme Court Justice, she co-chairs the Court’s Gender & Justice Commission.  She also serves as the Court’s liaison to the Washington State Bar’s Council on Public Defense. And she is a long time member of the Court’s Rules Committee, responsible for rules – such as rules targeting race discrimination in jury selection – governing courts throughout Washington.  In addition, she speaks regularly at legal and community events on topics ranging from the importance of an independent judicial branch to current noteworthy cases.  Her dedication and expertise as a Justice have been recognized by groups ranging from Washington Women Lawyers to the Cardozo Society. 

Justice McCloud has participated in all the significant cases that the Court has considered in the last decade – and her decisions reflect careful attention to constitutional and individual rights.  She authored the Court’s 2017 opinion in State v. Arlene’s Flowers; it ruled that Washington’s Law Against Discrimination bars a florist that is open to the general public from refusing to serve a gay couple seeking flowers for their wedding.  She also authored the dissent from the Court’s 2023 decision in State v. Quinn, on Washington’s newly enacted capital gains tax; she emphasized the importance of our state constitution’s language, history, and protections.    

Justice McCloud’s judicial independence was foreshadowed by her long career as a lawyer.  She always made time to serve indigent clients, often in the most difficult contests with the government.  She received the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' highest award for "extraordinary courage" in taking on such cases. Justice McCloud was an invited member of the American Association of Appellate Lawyers and a founding member of the Washington Appellate Lawyers Association, both of which limit membership to the most accomplished appellate lawyers.  She also taught at Seattle University School of Law.   


Diego Vargas
Bellevue Criminal Defense Lawyer Diego J. Vargas has been repeatedly recognized as a Washington Super Lawyer by judges, prosecutors, peers, and clients. With over twenty years of legal experience, Diego focuses his practice exclusively on representing people accused of DUI, Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, Boating Under the Influence, Homicide by Watercraft, Assault by Watercraft, and other criminal offenses. Diego's cases have been featured on Dateline NBC, The Today Show, and local news programs.
Diego’s experience includes:
Professor Mary D. Fan
Professor Mary D. Fan is the Jack R. MacDonald Endowed Chair at the University of Washington School of Law. She is the author of numerous articles in leading law reviews and a recent book Camera Power: Proof, Policing, Privacy, and Audiovisual Big Data, published by Cambridge University Press. Her research and teaching are informed by her experiences as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of California and as an associate legal officer at a United Nations criminal tribunal. Her scholarship has been cited by judges, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and in major media venues. Professor Fan is an elected member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and an elected Life Fellow of the American Bar Association (ABA). She also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)-Washington. 
Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Assistant Director at the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law where she co-teaches in the Civil Rights Clinic and litigates civil rights and race equity issues before state and federal courts. Her work, through both direct representation and amicus curiae advocacy, addresses issues of structural inequality, racism, and explicit and implicit bias in the legal system. Prior to joining the Korematsu Center, she worked for 12 years in civil legal services, most recently as the Directing Attorney for the Institutions Project at Columbia Legal Services from 2011-2016. In her work, she has focused on high impact litigation, research, and policy work related to race equity, the health and safety of people in institutions and foster care, sentencing reform, reentry, and fair treatment in employment for agricultural workers. She has experience litigating in federal and state courts, at both the trial and appellate court levels.
Kathryn Russell Selk
Kathryn Russell Selk is an appellate criminal defense attorney who has worked in all three Divisions of the Court of Appeals and in the state's Supreme Court.  After an appellate judicial clerkship, she was one of the original attorneys at the then-new Washington Appellate Project in 1994.  She moved on to do contract work and ultimately open her own office, through which she has handled more than 500 criminal defense appeals, mostly as a public defender.  She has also served as a part-time lecturer in criminal law at the University of Washington School of Law and does occasional work as a freelance writer.  
 
Ms. Russell Selk has won reversals of serious felony convictions including first-degree murder and child sexual abuse both on appeal and by way of personal restraint petition based on prosecutorial misconduct -including more than 13 in Pierce County alone.  Her most well-known case is State v. Houston-Sconiers, which established a right for youth tried as adults to be resentenced in light of neuroscience regarding brain development.  Her cases have also included State v. Lundstrom, regarding constitutional requirements for physical restraint pretrial, and State v. Huckins and State v. Ingram, regarding the rights of the accused under CrR 3.2 and failures of trial courts to follow the rule.  Kathryn Russell Selk is also active in education and reading advocacy.  She wrote several amicus briefs on state constitutional requirements in the McCleary public education funding case in the state Supreme Court and has taken more than 2,000 donated books to Title 1 schools.  She lives in Seattle with her family, including a high schooler and two rescued felines.  Once a week she helps at FamilyWorks with a community closet providing free kids clothes to families in need.  
David Montes
David Montes graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 2012. He was a public defender for 11 years before joining the ACLU of Washington as a staff attorney in 2023.

 
Travis Stearns
Travis Stearns is an advocate for the right to counsel for all disenfranchised persons. He has been a public defender most of his career, currently with the Washington State Office of Public Defense. A graduate of George Washington University Law School, he has worked for the New York City Legal Aid Society, the Whatcom County Public Defender, the Washington Defender Association, and the Washington Appellate Project. He focuses on training and substantive policy reform, having seen success in the courts and with the legislature and is a nationally recognized speaker on issues relating to leadership, trial advocacy, the right to counsel, racial injustice, and the impact of criminal convictions. He has published articles in law school journals, primarily on issues relating to the impact of criminal convictions on reentry. He is an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law. He has chaired or been a member of the WSBA's Commission on Public Defense, NLADA’s Education Committee, the Supreme Court’s Minority and Justice Commission, and the ABA’s Standards Committee. He is responsible for several important decisions issued by the Washington Supreme Court on racial injustice issues.
Lei Young
Lei Young is a staff attorney with the Disproportionality Training Unit at the Washington State Office of Public Defense, where she works to develop legal strategies and trainings for challenging systemic racial and economic disproportionality in the criminal justice system.  Prior to that position, she spent 17 years as an attorney with The Defender Association, which is now a division of the King County Department of Public Defense.  As a public defender, she represented clients in a variety of practice areas, including in felony, sexually violent predator, and dependency proceedings.  She received her J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2006.
La Rond Baker
La Rond Baker is the Legal Director for the ACLU of Washington, where she directs and supervises the legal advocacy of the organization on a wide range of civil liberties and civil rights issues including: voting rights; free speech; discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status; and issues around policing and incarceration. Ms. Baker started her legal career as a Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Washington where she she litigated cases involving delays in the provision of competency services (Trueblood v. DSHS), free speech (Veterans for Peace v. City of Auburn and Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign v. King County; voting rights (Montes v. City of Yakima and Aranda Glatt v. City of Yakima), and many other issues. In 2017, Ms. Baker went to work in the Civil Rights Unit of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, where she fought issues such as the Department of Defense’s ban on open service by transgender individuals (Karnoski v. Trump) and a private detention center’s practice of paying detainees $1/day for labor (Washington v. The GEO Group, Inc.). After working in the AG’s office, in 2019, Ms. Baker became Special Counsel for Affirmative Litigation and Policy at the King County Department of Public Defense, identifying priority legislation for DPD to support or oppose, litigating appeals, and acting as co-counsel in litigation involving systemic issues – including a successful challenge to King County’s inquest process, making inquests more transparent and fairer for families of loved ones killed by law enforcement (The Family of Damarius Butts v. Dow Constantine). In 2015, Ms. Baker was named a “champion of justice” by the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for her work as one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Trueblood v. DSHS. In 2016, she received the Loren Miller Bar Association Award for Excellence in the Law. She earned her law degree from the University of Washington.