As lawyers and members of the Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington, we recognize that it is time to stand up and be counted. We stand with those in our communities giving voice to the need to change the inequities of our legal and justice systems. We say the names of and grieve for victims of police brutality and racial violence, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, and Ahmaud Arbery. We recognize that systemic racism is not bounded by jurisdiction or state lines. These are issues of both local and national import. And importantly, we acknowledge that as participants in the judicial process, we are both part of the problem and the solution.
This is more than a statement of our solidarity and fellowship. This is a call to action.
Our local court rules expressly prohibit bias. “Litigation, inside and outside the courtroom in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, must be free from prejudice and bias in any form.” To fully give effect to this rule, we must live it. And to live it, we must act. We must act individually, and together, to address the social and economic injustices that precede litigation in our courts.
We have skills to put to good use. The mission of the FBA WDWA includes advancing jurisprudence and improving the administration of justice. You have a role to play, and you can help.
- Federal Civil Rights Legal Clinic. The Federal Civil Rights Legal Clinic offers free, limited legal advice and referrals to King County and Pierce County residents. The Clinic focuses on Washington State residents who are contemplating filing or have already filed legal actions in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and who are encountering challenges accessing our legal system. The Clinic is accessible regardless of a one’s disability or fluency in English. The Clinic works in partnership with the King County Bar Association’s Neighborhood Legal Clinic Program as well as Tacoma’s Volunteer Legal Services to provide access to the courts. You can help by referring individuals to the Clinic and by circulating this link to other lawyers and getting the word out that the Clinic is an available resource: https://fba-wdwash.org/looking-for-help/
- Pro Bono Panel. When pro se plaintiffs apply for the appointment of counsel, the court makes an appointment in those cases where the claims appear to have merit and prosecution of the claims would be enhanced by counsel’s participation. Cases frequently involve serious potential civil rights violations, immigration claims, or employment issues. Participation on the panel is a valuable community service, ensuring that those who seek access to justice in the WDWA can do so effectively. Find out more about how you can participate: https://fba-wdwash.org/service-opportunities/
There is much work to be done. We each have a role to play. In the coming weeks and months, we will be taking a close look at how the FBA-WDWA can adapt our existing programs and build new ones to help confront and eradicate racial injustice in our legal and justice systems. Please contact us with your ideas on how FBA-WDWA can further our collective commitment to justice. Contact information for officers and trustees is here: https://fba-wdwash.org/officers-and-trustees/
Officers and Trustees of the Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington
Joanna P. Boisen, President
Jamie L. Lisagor, Vice President
Steven Masada, Immediate Past President
Theodore J. Angelis, Secretary
Molly A. Terwilliger Treasurer
Nicholas W. Brown, Trustee
Jonathan L. McFarland, Trustee
Moloy K. Good, Trustee
Vanessa Soriano Power, Trustee
Thomas B. Vertetis, Trustee