Public Defense Advisory Board Members
Matt Adams is legal director at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, one of the nation’s largest immigration legal services organizations. Mr. Adams received the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award in 2008 from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in recognition of his “excellence in litigation in the field of immigration law.” He represents an organization active in immigration issues. Term expires June 30, 2017.
Kim Ambrose is a senior lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law and director of Tools for Change: Race and Justice Clinic, a UW clinic she founded that focuses on racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. As a former public defender, Ms. Ambrose represented indigent adults and juveniles in both child welfare and criminal proceedings. She represents juvenile justice interests. Term expires June 30, 2017.
Hon. Sharon Armstrong is a retired King County Superior Court judge who twice served as chief criminal judge and co-chaired an advisory committee on public defender compensation models. She recently joined JAMS, the largest private provider of mediation and arbitration services worldwide. She represents the King County Bar Association.Term expires June 30, 2018.
Marc Boman helped lead the reform of public defense in this state as co-chair with former Justice Robert Utter of the Washington State Bar Association’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Criminal Defense. Mr. Boman is a partner at Perkins Coie and the former chair (and current member) of the WSBA’s Council on Public Defense. In 2009, he received the president’s award from the Washington Defender Association for his commitment to improving public defense. He represents an organization concerned about poverty issues. Term expires June 30, 2017.
Tom Hillier, who recently retired as the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington, has been hailed for his work with indigent defendants and advocacy for federal sentencing reform. He worked as a federal public defender in Seattle for 38 years, 28 of them as chief, building an office described by The Seattle Times as “a model for indigent defense nationwide.” He represents the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.Term expires June 30, 2018.
Paul Holland is associate dean for academic affairs at the Seattle University School of Law. Before becoming dean in 2009, he directed the nationally recognized Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, through which law students work on real cases to serve poor and marginalized populations. He is a longtime child advocate and former chair of the governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. He represents an organization active in mental health issues. Term expires June 30, 2019.
Sophia Byrd McSherry, an attorney, has served as the deputy director of the Washington State Office of Public Defense since 2007. In her former position as policy director for the Washington State Association of Counties, she successfully lobbied the Legislature for statewide public defense funding and system reforms. Before becoming a lawyer, Ms. McSherry worked as a journalist and was awarded the prestigious American Political Science Association fellowship. Ms. McSherry recently served on the King County Public Defense Criminal Justice Advisory Task Force. She represents the Washington Office of Public Defense. Term expires June 30, 2018.
Jeffery Robinson is the ACLU's deputy legal director and director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equity, which houses the organization's work on criminal justice, racial justice and reform issues. Mr. Robinson is a former public defender and a nationally recognized trial attorney; for 27 years, he worked in private practice at Schroeter, Goldmark, Bender in Seattle. He is past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a recipient of its prestigious William O. Douglas award. A faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College in Georgia, Mr. Robinson was selected as one of the nation’s top 100 African American lawyers by Black Enterprise magazine and ranked as one of the top 10 criminal defense lawyers in the state by Washington Law & Politics magazine. He represents a minority bar association. Term expires June 30, 2019.
John Strait is an associate professor of law at the Seattle University School of Law and a national expert on public defense and ethics. Mr. Strait has served on the Washington Supreme Court’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, the King County Bar Association’s Campaign Ethics Committee and the Washington State Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct Committee. He also chaired the Seattle Port Authority’s Ethics Advisory Committee. He represents the Washington Defender Association. Term expires June 30, 2018.
Safia Ahmed brings a perspective few on the 11-member board possess. Not long ago, she faced a potential sentence of 30 years in a federal prison for financial crimes in California. Safia, an immigrant from Somalia, dramatically turned her life around. Because of her full compliance with all the conditions of her pretrial release, including successful sobriety and restitution of $130,000, her felony conviction was reduced last March to a misdemeanor identity theft charge and one year of probation. Safia has become a leading voice on issues of recovery and the difficulties facing troubled youth and women who have alcohol or drug addictions. She recently completed an internship in the King County Executive's Office, where she worked on the development and implementation of peacemaking circles, a process that attempts restorative justice instead of punishment for youth charged with a crime. Term expires June 30, 2019.