WACDL History


  • Defense lawyers, over meetings during 1986 and 1987 at the Merchants Café, form the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


  • First WACDL amicus brief filed in March: State v. Ciskie (admissibility of rape trauma syndrome testimony); WACDL amicus author: Mike Trickey
  • WACDL has 52 members
  • First CLE program presented on May 29: "The Time Has Come" featuring Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, The Hon. John Coughenour, and Judy Clarke.
  • First Defense Magazine published, with articles about forfeiture, eyewitness ID, prostitution sex stings, compelled mental health evaluations, and child sex cases.


  • Teresa Mathis becomes WACDL's first Executive Director.
  • Catherine Chaney testifies against one-party consent bill, which dies due to our efforts.
  • First WACDL Holiday Party: Dinner is an hors d'oeuvres buffet (and we run out of food); first William O. Douglas Award presented to Katie Ross.


  • WACDL membership grows to 329
  • Steve Ross hired as WACDL lobbyist


  • WACDL donates a copy of our William O. Douglas bust to Yakima Museum
  • WACDL moves to its own office
  • State v. Boland (privacy of garbage); WACDL amicus authors: Kate Pflaumer, Robert Whaley, Richard Hansen
  • State v. Leach (application of felony murder doctrine arson-related death); WACDL amicus author: Nancy Talner18 WACDL m
  • WACDL sponsors federal habeas CLE program, which draws attendance from several states.
  • City of Auburn v. Brooke (essential elements rule applies to all charging documents); WACDL amicus author: Nancy Talner


  • WACDL sponsors first "Lobby Day" in Olympia for board members and committee chairs
  • Second WACDL staff person (1/2 time) hired


  • Past President Kate Pflaumer resigns from WACDL to become US Attorney.
  • WACDL begins making donations to Matthew House
  • In the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict, WACDL presents a luncheon discussion on the topic of race and ethics for criminal defense lawyers.
  • Past President Bob Whaley leaves WACDL to become a superior court judge (and, in 1995, a federal judge).


  • Our bill to expand the jury pool passes.
  • WACDL Executive Director Teresa Mathis organizes coalition to oppose Three Strikes initiative.


  • Federal Bar Committee hosts first brown bag lunch CLE
  • Death Penalty Committee organizes series of short programs on capital litigation
  • WACDL's Three Strikes Task Force prepares master briefs and other background for members
  • Sherry Appleton becomes WACDL lobbyist


  • We invite the ATF to do a gun "show and tell" at our spring CLE program
  • Second WACDL staff person becomes full time


  • Directory of WACDL's brief bank made available on floppy disc (briefs themselves still on paper)
  • WACDL legislative priority bill creating Office of Public Defense passes
  • U.S. District Court Judge William L. Dwyer speaks on criminal defense lawyers and American liberty
  • Chicago Bulls fan Marianne Jackson is Chelan keynote speaker; the Chicago Bulls beat the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA finals


  • We kill a bill to eliminate unanimous juries
  • WACDL organizes response to government use of defense investigator as a paid informant
  • WACDL files bar complaint against prosecutor in response to use of prosecutor's approval of law enforcement officer posing as defense lawyer to get information from suspect.


  • New member services: expert witness list, email case law updates, and scholarship program


  • WACDL agrees to intervene in any case where a defendant is not fighting imposition of death penalty
  • New membership database created.
  • WACDL Holiday Party held during WTO week.


  • WACDL-List created


  • WACDL launches website, which includes searchable brief bank and expert witness directory.
  • WACDL creates Schwartz Scholarship (to NCDC) in honor of member Irwin Schwartz becoming NACDL president.
  • Pam Crone becomes WACDL lobbyist
  • Our bill, drafted by Mark Muenster and Nancy Talner, to allow vacation of misdemeanor offenses passes.
  • Regina v. Burns and Rafay (extradition  death penalty); WACDL amicus authors: Richard C.C. Peck and Nikos Harris, with help from Neil Fox, Michael Iaria, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, David Fathi,  Gary Davis, Jim Koenig, Theresa Olson and others.  This ruling was called “a victory not just for this case, but for the entire international fight against the death penalty."
  • First Champion of Justice Award presented to the Hon. Richard Sanders
  • Kim Gordon receives first Irwin Schwartz Scholarship


  • Charlie Williams represents WACDL as a member of the WSSC's Time for Trial Task Force.
  • State v. Andress (felony murder); WACDL amicus author: Pat Novotny
  • Prosecutorial misconduct committee created
  • WACDL helps find and support pro bono lawyers for clients who may obtain earlier release under the Andress ruling.


  • WACDL creates RPC 1.5 Task Force to respond to proposed changes regarding flat fees.


  • Blakeley v. Washington (applicability of Apprendi to WA SRA); WACDL amicus author: Sheryl Gordon McCloud
  • WACDL creates task force to draft Blakely "fix" legislation.


  • Blakely "fix" bill, which we helped draft, passes.
  • WACDL Ethics Hotline created
  • WSBA board forms task force, with WACDL reps, to address concerns related to trust accounts and retainers; Alison Holcomb represents WACDL
  • New email list rules approved.
  • State v. Recuenco/In re Swenson (application of Blakely to firearm enhancement); WACDL amicus authors: Linda J. King & Sheryl Gordon McCloud
  • Ashcroft v. Raich (medical marijuana); WACDL amicus author: Sheryl Gordon McCloud
  • State v. Evans; In re Swenson (retroactivity of Blakely); WACDL amicus authors: Linda J. King &  Sheryl Gordon McCloud
  • Prison Legal News v. Washington DOC (PRA request); WACDL amicus authors: Magda Baker & Sheryl Gordon McCloud


  • WACDL develops model fee agreement
  • New GR 15 takes effect; Nancy Talner represented us on the task force that drafted it.
  • Alison Holcomb represents WACDL on the KCBA's Drug Policy Task Force
  • Davis v. Washington (911 statements and Crawford); WACDL amicus authors: Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Pamela Harris & Timothy O’Toole


  • After years of prodding by defense bar reps reps to the WPIC, pattern instructions are made available online.
  • WACDL asks the Forensic Investigations Council to investigate problems at the state crime lab.
  • We celebrate our 20th anniversary with special bowling awards crafted by Peter and Cooper Offenbecher.
  • We invite law enforcement and prosecutors to a CLE program on eyewitness identification


  • State v. Strode (open courtroom); WACDL amicus author: Jeff Ellis
  • Public Defense Committee created.
  • Sherry Appleton receives Champion of Justice Award


State v. Afana (good faith exception); WACDL amicus author: Doug Klunder
State v. Nason (auto jail); WACDL amicus authors: Nancy Talner, Sarah Dunne, &  Lila  Silverstein
State v. Jasper (confrontation of evidence); WACDL amicus authors: Suzanne Elliott &  Travis Stearns


  • WACDL receives settlement from Seattle Police Dept. of $22,050 + attorney fees, in response to our lawsuit challenging their denial of our PRA request.
  • New Diversity Committee created
  • Our bill to add a defense lawyer to the Forensic Investigations Council passes.


  • New website launches.
  • WACDL begins relationship with Lawyers Association Trust & Moranco
  • State v. Gresham (important evidentiary rule clarification); WACDL amicus author: Amy Muth
  • State v. Bobby Thompson (basis for DNA testing on a claim of actual innocence); WACDL amicus author: Suzanne Elliott
  • State v. Snapp (consolidated with State v. Wright) (greater protections of WA constitution); WACDL amicus author: Sheryl Gordon McCloud
  • State v. Lyon (affidavit in suport of a search warrant); WACDL amicus author: Tom Conom
  • Rulings in a number of open court cases (Tarhan, Morris, Paumier, Wise); WACDL amicus authors include Jeff Ellis, Suzanne Elliott, Sheryl Gordon McCloud


  • The WACDL board considers whether WACDL should remain a 501(c)(3) organization and decides that yes, it should.
  • In Re PRP of Stockwell (right to effective assistance of counsel includes accurate advice on plea bargains); WACDL amicus authors: Jeff Ellis & Suzanne Elliott
  • State v. Hinton (text messages); WACDL amicus authors: Rabi Lahiri & Lila Silverstein
  • State v. Roden (text messages); WACDL amicus author: Lila Silverstein


  • State v. Lui (requirement for specific expert to testify as right of confrontation);
  • State v. Barton (cash bail); WACDL amicus author: Amy Muth
  • State v. JR (burden of proof); WACDL amicus author: David Zuckerman


  • WACDL creates its Hair Microscopy Task Force, to review cases where convictions may have been based on faulty hair microscopy evidence.
  • State v. Blazina (impact of LFOs on indigent defendants); joint brief with Center for Justice, CLS, ACLU and WDA
  • State v. Peeler (state must comply with the lawful request under the detainer act or lose ability to prosecute); WACDL amicus author: Suzanne Elliott
  • State v. O’Dell (juvenile sentencing); joint amicus brief; Suzanne Elliott for WACDL
  • State v. Khan (requiring courts to properly consider PRPs to consider collateral attacks on convictions); WACDL amicus author: David Zuckerman


  • WACDL launches its online, searchable Brady list
  • WACDL begins publish a series of quick reference guides
  • WACDL creates a Jury Diversity task force
  • WACDL partners with the Federal Public Defender of the Western District of WA to add their briefs to the WACDL brief bank.
  • State v. Love (open courts); WACDL amicus authors Danny Kelly-Stallings & Suzanne Elliiott)
  • State v. Duncan (impact of LFOs on indigenct clients); joint amicus brief, Suzanne Elliott for WACDL
  • State v. Mecham (consequences of refusing FSTs); WACDL amicus athors: D. Jack Guthrie & Suzanne Elliott
  • State v. Wakefield (impact of LFOs on indigent clients); joint amicus brief, Suzanne Elliott for WACDL
  • State v. Davis (discriminatory sentencing); joint brief with FPD/Western District & ACLU; Suzanne Elliott for WACDL


  • WACDL begins offering online CLE programs
  • WACDL's Court Rules Committee submits eight proposed changes to the WA State Supreme Court
  • State v. Houston-Sconiers (juvenile sentencing); WACDL amicus author: Suzanne Elliott
  • State v. Ramos (juvenile sentencing); Suzanne Elliott for WACDL


  • Washington Fair Chance Act, which prohibits employers from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position passed and was signed by the Governor.  Members of WACDL's Criminal Records and Restoration of Rights Committee (Mark Muenster & Nancy Talner, co-chairs) drafted this legislation and worked for three years to get it passed.
  • In re Fero (new evidence); WACDL amicus author: Neil Fox