Lawyer Selected to Monitor Grant County Public Defense System

News Release: 
Friday, November 20, 2009

Seattle attorney Jeffery Robinson has been selected to monitor Grant County’s compliance with terms of a settlement agreement to improve the County’s public defender system. The settlement came in a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia Legal Services brought against the county for failing to provide indigent felony defendants with effective assistance of counsel. Robinson will monitor compliance over the six-year term of the agreement.

Robinson is an experienced and widely respected criminal defense lawyer at Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender. He has served in a supervisory capacity at a number of public and nonprofit organizations, including an appointment as auditor of the Seattle Police Department intelligence files. In a 2003 profile of Robinson’s career, the Seattle Times hailed him as “one of the best problem solvers in Seattle.”

Robinson has earned numerous honors, including selection by the King County Bar Association as Lawyer of the Year (2003), selection by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the top 100 Black lawyers in America (2003), and election to the American College of Trial Lawyers (2004).

Robinson has degrees from Marquette University and Harvard University Law School. He holds a faculty position at the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga., and has held leadership roles at both the Washington and National Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The ACLU and Columbia Legal Services filed a class action lawsuit against Grant County in April 2004 on behalf of indigent individuals accused of felony offenses and a Grant County taxpayer. The suit argued that Grant County public defenders carried excessive caseloads and often were assigned cases they were not qualified to handle. As a result, many indigent defendants were denied effective assistance of counsel.

The lawsuit was settled in November, 2005. Grant County agreed to improve the quality of its public defense system and to comply with standards endorsed by the Washington State Bar Association. This is the first time a county public defense system in Washington will be subject to comprehensive monitoring.