Public Defense Advisory Board
Members and composition
The King County Public Defense Advisory Board was established by county Ordinance 17678, which was amended in 2021 by Ordinance 19332 and Ordinance 19333. Its mission is to review the activities and plans of the Department of Public Defense, advocate for high-quality public defense, play a significant role in the selection of the public defender when the office is vacant and advise the executive and council on matters of equity and social justice related to public defense. The board issues two written reports annually – one reviewing the executive’s proposed budget for public defense and the other on the state of public defense in King County.
Chris Carney, partner in the firm Carney Gillespie PLLP, is an experienced criminal defense lawyer, a former public defender, and a professor of mental health law at the University of Washington School of Law. Along with attorneys from the ACLU of Washington, Disability Rights Washington, and the Public Defender Association, he helped litigate Trueblood v. DSHS, a constitutional challenge to the length of time individuals with mental disabilities spend in jail waiting for court-ordered competency evaluations. He currently serves on the executive committee implementing statewide reforms mandated by the class-action suit. Mr. Carney won the "Champion of Justice" award from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2015. He represents a nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on mental health issues. Term expires June 30, 2022.
Angélica Cházaro is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law with expertise in the intersection of immigration and criminal law. A graduate of Columbia University School of Law, she worked for seven years at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, where she represented clients facing deportation and other issues due to contact with the criminal legal system. She began teaching at the UW Law School in 2013, focusing on immigration law, critical race theory and professional responsibility. In 2014, she served as a chief negotiator during a 56-day hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center where she represented immigrant detainees. She is a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission convened by the National Day Laborer's Organizing Network, providing the Executive Branch with recommendations on administrative relief for undocumented people. She has also played a leadership role on issues of social justice in the Seattle region, advocating a vision for a new kind of social contract that would limit the reach of the criminal legal system and instead build restorative programs that empower people, heal harms, and strengthen communities. She has written and presented extensively on issues of immigration, deportation, the rights of incarcerated parents, and more, and has been interviewed by local, national, and international news organization about her work on behalf of immigrants and social change. Term expires June 30, 2023.
Nyema Clark is a community organizer, farmer, and activist who founded Nurturing Roots, an urban farm project in Seattle that works to build community through gardening, to engage youth, and to provide healthy food to communities of color. She currently serves as the executive director of Nurturing Roots. Ms. Clark has a passion for juvenile justice reform stemming from her own experience as a youth, when she was prosecuted for an altercation with her best friend; over the years, she has personally seen the way a criminal record acts as a barrier to equity. She has worked to address these disparities and to reform and dismantle the prison industrial complex, volunteering with the Black Prisoners Caucus, the Black Power Epicenter, the No New Youth Jail, and other community-based movements in the Seattle region. She represents a nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on juvenile justice. Term expires June 30, 2023.
Louis Frantz recently retired from the King County Department of Public Defense, where he served as the felony practice director. He also worked as a felony supervisor in Kent, a senior attorney and a staff attorney with one of the county's public defense agencies. He began his career in public defense in 1985, shortly after obtaining his JD from the University of Puget Sound Law School (now Seattle University). He's a former member of the Board of Governors of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL), as well as a past president of the organization. He represents WACDL. Term expires June 30, 2024.
Shoshana Kehoe-Ehlers is a managing attorney at the Washington State Office of Public Defense, where she oversees OPD’s statewide 71.09 (sexually violent predator) Civil Commitment Public Defense Representation Program. She monitors contract attorneys who represent people facing civil commitment, provides training, works on post-conviction system reform, and more. Prior to coming to OPD, Ms. Kehoe-Ehlers was the program director at the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines, where she oversaw staffing of the state’s Sex Offender Policy Board; she worked on policy development, data collection, legislative proposals, and reports to the governor and legislator. From 2001 to 2009, she was a public defender in Seattle, representing both adults and youth, and handling felony, misdemeanor, and dependency cases. Shoshana obtained her JD from Hamline University School of Law, where she graduated with honors. She holds the seat representing state OPD. Term expires June 30, 2024.
Shrounda Selivanoff is the public policy director for Children’s Home Society, where she works to support policy development that can improve outcomes for disenfranchised and marginalized families. Prior to her position there, she worked as a social service specialist in the Parents Representation Program at the Washington State Office of Public Defense, providing advocacy for parents who were facing a state dependency proceeding, assisting parents with visitation, and providing other critical support to traumatized families. Ms. Selivanoff has dedicated her professional life to supporting families facing dependency proceedings, promoting strength-based programs, acting as a mentor and advocate, and helping to reduce the barriers to family reunification. Term expires June 30, 2023.
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, 2024.
Judge Ron Whitener (ret.), who earned his JD from the University of Washington in 1994, has been a champion for native rights throughout his distinguished career, representing hundreds of Native American clients in tribal courts throughout the state and working to bolster the quality of criminal and civil representation of low-income Native people. He worked as a tribal attorney for the Squaxin Island Tribe (of which he is a member) for several years before joining the clinical faculty at the UW Law School, where he created the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, focused on training law students to practice public defense in tribal court. He also served as the chief judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and for the Tulalip Tribes. Judge Whitener was funded by the MacArthur Foundation to develop public defense resources for juveniles involved in tribal justice systems and in 2011 was named a “champion of change” by the Obama Administration. In 2020, he retired as chief judge of the Tulalip Tribes to focus on consulting with tribes throughout the country on improving their tribal justice systems. He also serves as an affiliated professor at the UW Law School. Judge Whitener represents a minority bar association active in Washington state. Term expires June 30, 2022.
Board members are expected to have substantial experience and expertise relevant to the work of public defense, to reflect the diversity of the county to the extent practicable, and to act as representatives from the following organizations or associations:
- The Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers;
- The Washington state Office of Public Defense;
- The Washington Defender Association;
- The King County Bar Association;
- A bar association identified as a minority bar association by the Washington State Bar Association;
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on mental health issues;
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on substance abuse issues;
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on issues concerning military veterans;
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on issues related to poverty;
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on juvenile justice issues; and
- A nonpartisan organization active in King County that focuses on immigration issues.
Board members serve staggered three-year terms. The county council may reappoint board members to additional three-year terms.
How to become a member
Board members must have substantial experience relevant to the work of public defense and be able to commit the time necessary to attend meetings and participate effectively as a member. While serving on the board, members may not hold elective public office except precinct committee officer, serve as a King County judicial officer, a King County prosecuting attorney or a King County public defender or be an employee of a King County court. Only organizations or associations that meet the criteria listed above can submit candidates for the advisory board.
Organizations that meet the criteria listed above shall submit three names. The submittal must include an application, resume, and all other written materials the organization considered in deciding to recommend the candidate for each candidate. Go here to download the application. Or click here for a PDF version of the application.
Individuals who would like to serve on the advisory board can indicate their interest in one of two ways:
- Contact an organization that fits the criteria listed above and let that organization know of your willingness and ability to represent its interests, or
- Contact Gail Stone, Executive Constantine’s law and justice policy advisor, at email@example.com or (206)263-9652, or Melani Pedroza, clerk of the County Council, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206)477-1025.