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Edwin Aralica on Being a Criminal Defense Lawyer

"It is so important to represent our clients with dignity, respect, and a sense of humanity."

Why did you go to law school?

My mother is an attorney.  From an early age, I was fascinated by the law and justice.  I was also on the debate team in high school and college.  I enjoyed a good argument.

When you went to law school, did you intend to become a criminal defense lawyer?

No, I wanted to work in international law.  During law school, I enjoyed my evidence class.  I actually earned the CALI award for the highest grade in the class.  I worked in my law school clinic.  I was exposed to public interest law.  I wanted to help people, and I wanted to be in court.  Criminal defense seemed like the perfect permutation.

What convinced you to become a criminal defense lawyer?

My law school professor, Speedy Rice.  He is married to Judy Clarke.  Judy is the most accomplished criminal attorney of our generation.  Speedy introduced me to the world of criminal defense.  Through him I learned the importance of a strong criminal defense bar.  It is so important to represent our clients with dignity, respect, and a sense of humanity.  Ultimately, I wanted to help people.

Have you ever been a prosecutor?  If so, what did you learn from that experience?


Who is/are your mentor(s)?  What have you learned from them?

Lou Frantz: he was my supervisor at the King County Public Defender.  While I had mastered the techniques of a great trial attorney, Lou helped me become a great public defender.

Mario Conte: he was the head of the Federal Defenders in San Diego, and he was my professor at my LLM (master of law) in trial advocacy.  I learned the importance of hard work and absolute dedication to public defense from him.  My only regret is that I did not realize at the time when I was his student.  I only realize it later on in my career.  But, I am thankful for it.

Martha Walton: she was a juvenile supervisor at the King County Public Defender.  I learned how to be more empathic when representing my clients from her.  She was a fierce public defender, and she was kind and caring.  It is a difficult thing to master. She retired in April 2016.

Tell us about a case you worked on that made you proud to be a defense lawyer:

I represented a young man accused of molesting his step-daughter.  The first time I saw him in jail he was crying.  There was something about him that struck me.  I knew he was innocent.  I connected with him.  We went to trial.  He was acquitted.  After the trial, I met him at a local bar for a drink; not as my client, but as my friend.

Why do you do criminal defense?

I am a public defender.  Client centered representation is about helping people, not just representing them in court.  Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and humanity.  I will also give my clients my best.  And, I enjoy a good fight in court!

Briefly describe your practice.

I am currently a public defender at the King County Department of Public Defense—ACA Division.  I am the felony supervising attorney at the Regional Justice Center in Kent, WA.

What else would you like WACDL members to know about you/your practice?

Proud WACDL member since 2004.

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