2024 Defender Confer...

2024 Defender Conference Resource Page

Greetings! This is your hub for all things related to WDA 2024 Defender Conference: Nuts and Bolts: Law and Skills You Can Use. This page will be update regularly with additional materials and information, so check back often. We are so excited to see you again, and we look forward to be able to learn and connect with the defender community in Washington State. See below for everything you need!






Twyla Carter (she/her) serves as the Attorney-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of The Legal Aid Society, becoming the first Black woman and first Asian American to lead the organization in its 148-year history. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Carter was the National Director of Legal and Policy at The Bail Project (TBP), a national nonprofit organization that pioneered a national movement to bring free bail assistance and pretrial support to thousands of low-income people every year. At TBP, Carter created the department’s strategic mission and directed the legal, policy, and advocacy efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. Carter has also served as a senior staff attorney in the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national office, where she litigated local and state bail inequities and right-to-counsel protections in the federal courts and designed alternative bail and representation policies and procedures for targeted jurisdictions. Prior to working at the ACLU, Carter was a public defender for ten years. She was the Misdemeanor Practice Director for the King County Department of Public Defense in Seattle, where she oversaw all misdemeanor casework across the four divisions of the department. As a Staff Attorney at The Defender Association, Carter handled felony and misdemeanor trial caseloads, represented juveniles, and appealed misdemeanor convictions. She won a published decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One, in State v. Green, which affirmed the due process rights of parents accused of trespassing in public schools. Against the backdrop of the legislative attacks against the teaching of white supremacy and anti-Black racism in schools, Carter serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of The Who We Are Project. Founded by Jeffery Robinson, a renowned expert on the role of racism in the criminal legal system, the project aims to correct the social, legal, political, and economic aspects of racism in the United States through educational materials, including through a feature-length documentary entitled Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. Carter is admitted to practice law in New York, Washington State, and numerous federal courts. She is a nationally recognized expert on bail reform and is a frequent speaker on all aspects of the criminal legal system, including police reform, right-to-counsel issues, and how to incorporate race and culture into criminal, death penalty, and civil cases. Carter received her associate degree from the Seattle Central Community College, bachelor’s degree from Seattle University, and Juris Doctorate from the Seattle University School of Law.

Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson (he/him) began service on the Washington State Supreme Court in January 1991, and is the longest serving justice on the court. Justice Johnson was born in Tacoma, attended Curtis High School near Tacoma, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1974. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law) in 1976, working his way through law school at a Tacoma lumber mill. 

Justice Johnson remains active at Seattle University School of Law, where he is a Distinguished Jurist in Residence. He was an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law from 1995 to 2010, teaching a comprehensive seminar on state constitutional law. He also taught courses on the federal constitution, legal writing, oral advocacy, and brief writing. Justice Johnson, in conjunction with the Seattle University students, authored a comprehensive article on Washington search and seizure law in 1998, 2005, 2013, and 2019. He teaches and lectures throughout Washington State at law schools, universities, community colleges, high schools, and community organizations. He has received national recognition for his contribution to legal education, being awarded the 2012 John J. McAulay Legal Educator Award based on his dedication to the principles and ideals of integrity, compassion, courage and professional service. 

 Justice Johnson participates generously in law-related, professional, and community activities. He served as co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission from 1994 to 2018, and he co-chaired the 2004 Task Force on Civil Equal Justice Funding. He has served as chair of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Rules Committee since 1996. Justice Johnson also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Association for Children and Parents, the Visiting Committee of the University of Washington School of Social Work, and is a co-chair of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. 

 In October 2002, Justice Johnson received a special commendation from the Washington State Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Services to the Armed Forces for his outstanding service and contribution to the Armed Forces stationed in Washington State by supporting a rule allowing military lawyers to be licensed in Washington to provide in-court representation to eligible low-income service members. In May 2011, he received the Washington State Bar Association’s William O. Douglas Award for his years of judicial service. He has been presented with the Star Award, the Liberty Bell Award, and the Public Service Award by several organizations. Justice Johnson was also awarded the Distinguished Law Graduate Award from Seattle University School of Law and the Dedicated Service Award from the American Bar Association. 

 Justice Johnson is dedicated to supporting educational opportunities for disadvantaged children and youth. He and his wife support educational scholarship efforts of organizations, including Auburn and Tacoma Rotaries, and scholarship programs at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Tacoma Community College, and the Tri-Cities Hispanic Academic Achievers Program. 

Justice Johnson and his wife are committed to public service and supportive of civic organizations including American Heart Association, YMCA campaigns, Tacoma Community College, University of Washington Foundation, Tacoma Rescue Mission, Olympic Wildlife Rescue, Children’s Home Society, Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial, Peninsula School District, Boys and Girls Clubs, Washington Trails Association, Pierce County Food Banks, and the Lions Club. 

He and his wife, Dana, live in Gig Harbor. Their interests include sailing, hiking, climbing, downhill skiing, biking, traveling, and reading. 


We are honored to present this year’s slate of award winners, each of whom have made significant contributions to public defense in Washington State. Make sure to attend the awards ceremony on Friday evening at 6:30 to celebrate with your colleagues and enjoy heavy appetizer’s provided by WDA!

Gideon Award

Suzanne Elliott

For her lifetime work on behalf of public defense clients.

President’s Awards

Rose Boughton

An attorney with 5 or less years’ experience who has achieved outstanding success in her public defense work.

Bruce Adsero

In recognition of his outstanding work in challenging the use of contaminated blood test results in methamphetamine DUI cases.

Certificates of Recognition

Jeri Chavez for her work with civil legal aid providers and WDA to help break down barriers between civil and criminal defense in Skagit County.

Nathan Rouse for his work challenging the constitutionality of King County’s administrative booking procedure.

Distinguished Career Service

Wes Richards for his lifetime work as a public defender in Skagit and King Counties.