About the Director

Robert C. Boruchowitz is Director of the Defender initiative and Professor from Practice at the Seattle University School of Law.  He joined the faculty in January 2007 as a Visiting Clinical Professor and has taught in the Youth Advocacy Clinic and a seminar he developed on Law and the Holocaust.  He completed a two-week training for law teachers at the United States Holocaust Museum in 2007.

Professor Boruchowitz was director of the Defender Association in Seattle for 28 years and was president of the Washington Defender Association for 20 years.  He has handled appeals at all levels of the state and federal courts and argued the Seling v. Young case in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the application of Washington's "sexually violent predator" law.  He served on the executive committee of the American Council of Chief Defenders and on the Board of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).  He has participated in NLADA site visits and evaluations of defender programs in Michigan, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, and Washington, D.C.  He also was a member of an evaluation team for the Spangenberg Group in Los Angeles.  He has written about the right to counsel and is a frequent continuing legal education seminar speaker on ethical issues relating to public defense practice, including excessive caseloads.  See list of related publications .

In his recent article, Fifty Years After Gideon: It is Long Past Time to Provide Lawyers for Misdemeanor Defendants Who Cannot Afford to Hire Their Own, Professor Boruchowitz discusses the widespread failure to provide counsel to accused persons in misdemeanor courts and recommends solutions, including diverting cases out of the courts and reallocating resources to provide counsel in the cases that local governments determine are necessary to prosecute.  This article is one of a cluster of articles in the most recent edition of the Seattle Journal for Social Justice that worked with The Defender Initiative and its 2013 annual conference to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainwright decision.

He speaks frequently at continuing legal education seminars on ethical issues relating to defender caseloads.  He spoke at a Symposium on the 45th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright at the Washington Supreme Court Temple of Justice on April 11, 2008.

Professor Boruchowitz filed a declaration in support of habeas corpus in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  The declaration outlines the failure of the Manchester District Court to comply with requirements to provide counsel at arraignments in misdemeanor hearings.

Professor Boruchowitz provided an affidavit in support of a summary judgment motion filed by the Kentucky Public Advocate in a declaratory judgment action involving excessive public defender caseloads.  He also provided a declaration in the Miami Defender's motion to withdraw because of excessive caseload Florida v. Bowens.

He was a Soros Senior Fellow in 2003, working on issues of access to counsel in misdemeanor and juvenile cases.  He was able to help effect changes in courts in three counties, leading to the provision of counsel at arraignments in misdemeanor courts.  At the law school clinic, he helped to effect a change in one county's appointment practice that will provide lawyers to approximately 1,000 children a year in truancy contempt cases who under previous practices would not have had counsel.  This year, he and his students won a Washington Court of Appeals decision that due process requires that children in initial truancy proceedings have counsel.  Bellevue . E.S. (2009).  That case began in the Youth Advocacy Clinic under Professor Boruchowitz's supervision.

In 2007, Professor Boruchowitz led a committee that drafted a statement on caseloads and workloads for the ACCD.  He has received the Champion of Indigent Defense Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Reginald Heber Smith Award from NLADA, the Gideon Award from the Washingotn Defender Association, the William O. Douglas Award from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Professionalism Award from the Washington State Bar Association, and the Friend of the Profession Award from the King County Bar Association.