Kallie Ferguson on Being a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Why did you go to law school?
As a child I loved parsing the precise meaning behind words. This love was accompanied by an overwhelming desire to prove I was right. Litigation turned out to be a very natural career path! I enjoy the thrill of the courtroom and working to make a difference in people’s lives.
When you went to law school, did you intend to become a criminal defense lawyer?
Not at first. I was always public service orientated, but I interned with civil non-profits before becoming a defense attorney.
What convinced you to become a criminal defense lawyer?
I love working with people on a daily basis and fighting the good fight. Sitting behind a desk is not for me.
Have you ever been a prosecutor? If so, what did you learn from that experience?
I have not, but it would no doubt be a valuable experience.
Who is/are your mentor(s)? What have you learned from them?
The most valuable resource to me at my current job is Keith Howard here in Wenatchee. He has a vast wealth of knowledge and is always happy to walk through my cases with me when I have a question.
Tell us about a case you worked on that made you proud to be a defense lawyer:
My very first trial was an assault 4 case where there was substantial evidence to support my client’s innocence. However, the prosecutor would not budge from the offer to plead guilty as charge. At trial, the jury found my client not guilty.
Why do you do criminal defense?
The system is overwhelmingly against a defendant, especially if that defendant is also poor. As a public defender, I frequently see cases that are charged almost exclusively to poor people, such as driving with license suspended in the third degree or criminal trespass. Our country over-criminalizes and doesn’t seek out good alternatives to jail. I want to be a driving force against that system. Change is excruciatingly slow, but I believe that enough voices will eventually make a difference. As such, I have chosen to become one of those voices.
Briefly describe your practice.
I am a public defender in the misdemeanor division for King County.
What else would you like WACDL members to know about you/your practice?
One of the most difficult tasks of a public defender is to make each client a real person in the eyes of the system. They are not just a criminal or number on the docket. So many people pass through the criminal justice system in the misdemeanor level that it can be easy to go through the motions and lose sight of each defendant as individuals with unique backgrounds and personalities.