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Why I'm a WACDL Member - Neil Fox

"WACDL is really an amazing organization that all defense attorneys, including public defenders, should join."

When I was a public defender, I did not want to join WACDL as I thought it was an organization that catered to older, private attorneys.  In the mid-1990s, I began to change my mind and have come to see that WACDL is really an amazing organization that all defense attorneys, including public defenders, should join.

My belief in WACDL’s value crystallized in 1999-2001, when I was representing a Canadian national in a potential capital case.  The Canadian courts were considering whether my client (and a co-defendant) could be extradited to the U.S.  to face the death penalty.  WACDL became involved in this legal battle and had its own lawyers in Vancouver who filed an amicus brief on my client’s behalf in the Supreme Court of Canada.  WACDL members raised, without a question, a few thousand dollars to pay the printing costs for our “factum.”  When I went to the oral argument in Ottawa, I was extremely proud of WACDL’s participation in the case.  With WACDL’s involvement, it became clear to the Canadian justices that not all Americans, and not all people from Washington State, were eager to participate in state-sponsored killings.  Ultimately, we won (9:0) and the case became non-capital so that the defendants could be extradited to Washington.  I believe that WACDL’s involvement was politically critical to this victory.

Since that time, I have rarely missed a Chelan conference — which my kids came to know and love (confusing multiple swimming pools for a defense seminar).  The lobbying efforts, the amicus involvement in Washington State Supreme Court cases, the CLE programs — all impress upon me the depth and maturity of the organization.

Neil Fox is in private practice in Seattle, focusing on criminal defense in Washington State at all levels of state and federal court, including trials, appeals and post-conviction cases.


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