Pursuing justice

Donald and Lynda Horowitz fund first law school chair.

Don and Lynda Horowitz, holding their beloved Queenie, talk about their dedication to pursuing justice at their Madison Park home.

Former Judge Donald Horowitz is continually looking for ways to help people connect with Seattle University School of Law and advance his efforts toward equal justice.

He and his wife, Lynda, endowed the law school's first faculty chair, and he worked with Professor from Practice John McKay to develop a yearlong series to show how lawyers can incorporate public service into their lives.

In one case, it was a cute dog that helped him in his mission.

Don and Lynda were traveling from Boston to Seattle with their beloved Yorkie, Queenie, when they noticed Akshat Divatia and his wife, Prachi, waiting to board a flight with their mini Dachshund, Dinho.

The couples ended up sitting next to each other on the plane. Besides their adoration of their small dogs, Horowitz and Divatia discovered they shared a love of soccer - and a passion for the law and the struggle for justice.

Divatia, who had been doing immigration work as a paralegal at a Boston firm for eight years, told Horowitz he was considering law school and had been looking mostly at East Coast and Midwest schools.

"He told me I should just visit Seattle University," Divatia said.

"This is the highest honor a law school can bestow on a scholar, made possible by two individuals who have dedicated their lives to pursuing and ensuring equal and high quality justice for all. Don has been an incredible advocate for the underrepresented, and now he is advocating for our students and faculty with this wonderful gift."
Dean Kellye Testy

His wife is from the area, so they took him up on the suggestion. Divatia met with Dean Kellye Testy and others. He was inspired by the spirit of the school and started this summer.

"Don was a large factor in that. Don packs more enthusiasm than a high school pep rally," Divatia said. "He's a mentor and a friend. He was involved every step of the way."

Horowitz is thrilled that Divatia has enrolled.

"I've seen a lot of schools that talk a good game, but don't really deliver," Horowitz said. "But Seattle University School of Law, with Father Sundborg and Dean Testy and a committed faculty and staff, is really doing it. They understand that to be a school that works effectively for social justice, the values must permeate and actively live in the school, in its operations as well as its teaching, and that academically the school can be no less than excellent."

The Horowitzes showed their confidence in the law school by making a $2.5 million commitment to fund the Donald and Lynda Horowitz Chair for the Pursuit of Justice to assure that pursuing justice will be an enduring value and ongoing activity at the School of Law.

"This is the highest honor a law school can bestow on a scholar, made possible by two individuals who have dedicated their lives to pursuing and ensuring equal and high quality justice for all," Dean Kellye Testy said. "Don has been an incredible advocate for the underrepresented, and now he is advocating for our students and faculty with this wonderful gift."

Don and Lynda Horowitz met through their work with the justice system. Lynda was a psychiatric social worker for clients of Associated Counsel for the Accused. Don has been practicing law and working in the justice system since his graduation from Yale Law School in 1959, when he came to this state for a one-year clerkship for Washington Supreme Court Justice Harry Ellsworth Foster. He never left, instead becoming an associate with Foster & Foster in Olympia and then a partner in the Seattle firm of Schroeter, Farris, Bangs & Horowitz, later Farris, Bangs & Horowitz.

In 1970, he became the first chief counsel and senior assistant attorney general to the newly formed State Department of Social & Health Services. He served as a King County Superior Court judge and then a partner at Levinson Friedman in Seattle. In 1991, Horowitz decided to focus on his public service interests and became of counsel to his colleague and friend, David Balint.

He and Lynda have talked over time about how best to accomplish their goal of a more just legal system and settled on the chair as a major aspect. They both embrace the law school's mission of educating outstanding lawyers to be leaders for a just and humane world and appreciate the diversity the law school embraces.

Lynda is not without criticism of the current state of the justice system. She says she has become particularly disillusioned with the high, sometimes exorbitant, fees many lawyers charge, and the lack of access many have to counsel.

"We've talked a lot about the practice of law and how to do it better," she said. "The legal process and justice itself is largely inaccessible to the poor and the vulnerable, and also the middle class. It's very disturbing. We hope and intend that this contribution will enable both faculty and students to take a meaningful part in changing this terribly unfair condition of our society, among others."

Making a Difference

Don Horowitz spent much of the last year encouraging students and young lawyers to do just that through the program he and McKay organized, "Making A Difference: Using Your Law Degree to Make the World a Better Place No Matter Where You Go in Your Career - and Life." The series was capped with an unforgettable moment.

In 1963, Horowitz was asked to represent a black man who been sentenced to death in Georgia on essentially non-existent evidence in a murder trial that took less than an hour. The convicted man escaped when someone at the prison left a door open. He made his way to central Washington, where he worked for local farmers and was known for his reliability and honesty. But then he was found and faced extradition back to Georgia and the death penalty. Horowitz and co-counsel Carl Maxey, and the farmers who came to the hearing to stand up for the man, convinced then-Gov. Albert Rosellini not to send him back. Rosellini agreed evidence showed the man was wrongfully convicted and presented no danger.

It was the only extradition Rosellini ever declined as governor.

Forty-five years later, the client - who continued a law-abiding life, working and having six children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren - had the chance to thank the governor when Horowitz brought them both to the law school for an emotional meeting.

"I thank you and I'm glad to meet you, and I thank you," the man told Rosellini, now 98, as he grasped Rosellini's hand. "Thank you," he said again. Smiling broadly, Rosellini said that he never forgot that case, or the man. "I knew I did the right thing then, and I know that even better now. I can see he's a good citizen today as he was then."

That is one example of both the life-changing work lawyers committed to justice can accomplish, and the ways the law school encourages students down that path.

"Oh, that was quite a night," Horowitz said. "There were few dry eyes in that large room."

The series, which included four sessions with guest speakers, was so successful that other law schools have asked Horowitz and McKay to replicate it.

Horowitz first became involved with the law school almost 30 years ago when former Dean Fred Tausend asked him to be adjunct professor. Years later, as chair of the Access to Justice Technology Bill of Rights Committee of the State Access to Justice Board, Horowitz asked SU to host a kickoff conference and he invited McKay to give the keynote. That event laid the foundation for a long relationship with both the law school and McKay, who affectionately refers to Horowitz as his "cousin O'Hagan."

The Horowitzes have been involved in numerous public service activities, including founding Seattle SCORES, the only after-school program to combine the world's most popular sport - soccer - with literacy and public service to serve elementary school children in high-risk communities.

With their generous gift to the law school, they hope to inspire a new generation of lawyers to make a difference. The first person to occupy the chair will be Professor Margaret Chon, a prolific scholar and dedicated teacher whose current scholarly interests include technology, law, critical theory and social justice.

"We are very pleased with Maggie," Lynda said. Don agreed, "She's the right person."

Chon said it is a privilege to be named the first recipient of the chair.

"It's an honor for me to have them both as donors and now as friends," Chon said. "The chair is hugely significant in marking a tradition in our law school as we stand for excellence and reach for justice."

She hopes the chair will provide her additional latitude to make interventions in the areas of international intellectual property, technology and law and as an advocate for social justice.

Along with their important social justice work, Don and Lynda make a point to enjoy their lives. They are world travelers and they love to laugh as much as they can, especially together.

"We like to do things that make a ripple in the water that will grow and add more ripples over time," Don Horowitz said. "We hope this chair will make that kind of difference for many people for a long time to come."

Summer 2008

Two professorships accompany new chair

In addition to the Donald and Lynda Horowitz Chair for the Pursuit of Justice, the law school was pleased to announce two professorships in honor of Provost John D. Eshelman and former Dean Fred Tausend.

"John and Fred have been wonderful friends and advocates for the law school, and I'm thrilled that we can honor each in this way," Dean Testy said.

The recipient of the John D. Eshelman Professorship is Janet Ainsworth, and the recipient of the Fredric Tausend Professorship is Professor David Skover.

Ainsworth is an outstanding teacher who also regularly publishes and gives scholarly presentations. A former public defender, she is a consultant to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and received its Outstanding Service Award.

Skover is a nationally renowned Constitutional law scholar and co-author of "The Trials of Lenny Bruce." In 2003, Professor Skover and his co-author Ron Collins successfully petitioned Governor Pataki of New York State to posthumously pardon Lenny Bruce. He is working on a book on the First Amendment jurisprudence of Justice Louis Brandeis.