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This year, Jeffrey L. Fisher was made a partner and co-chairman of his firm’s appellate practice group, a reward for winning his first two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was also the reason The National Law Journal named him sole runner-up for 2004 Lawyer of the Year. One of those high court cases changed the way that defendants get sentenced in the courts of more than a dozen states and all federal courts. Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004). The other case rejuvenated the U.S. Constitution’s confrontation clause, a defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him or her. Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). Fisher hadn’t been a member of the Washington State Bar Association long enough to sign either of the certiorari petitions in those cases, but he was qualified by the time he had to file the first brief. Though a 32-year-old Supreme Court rookie at the time, he wasn’t unschooled in the machinations of high court reviews. He’d worked the back rooms. He clerked for 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhart in 1997 and 1998 and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens the following year. Stevens said he was “a great law clerk.” Reinhart looked ahead. “I hoped that he would have a career where he would do worthwhile things with his life,” Reinhart said. “Help improve the justice system and make the world a better place by being a superb lawyer — and I think he’s well on the way to doing all those things.” In October 1999, Seattle-based Davis Wright Tremaine hired Fisher, a Leawood, Kan., native who graduated from Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School. The firm has a “strong pro bono practice,” said Fisher. “I wanted to spend time helping people and helping causes that don’t always have an experienced and ready advocate.” Richard D. Ellingsen, the Los Angeles-based firmwide managing partner of 421-member Davis Wright, is “very proud of [Fisher's] pro bono work.” When asked what use Fisher was to the firm’s bottom line, he laughed. “We’re also very pleased with the paid appellate work which we’ve been fortunate to get,” he said. Fisher specializes in First Amendment, criminal defense and other constitutional matters in state and federal courts. He is a co-chairman of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Oral Argument Committee and the vice chairman of its Amicus Committee. He is a member of the Legal Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and his firm’s communications, media and information technologies group. A visiting lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law, he teaches a course on the U.S. Supreme Court. He has worked on cases involving commercial speech, defamation, media access to information, journalistic privilege, ex-post facto legislation, cruel and unusual punishment, federal pre-emption, anti-SLAPP protection and indigent legal services. Currently, he is co-authoring a brief for plaintiffs in the 9th Circuit concerning the punitive damages award in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, last reported at In re the Exxon Valdez, 296 F. Supp. 2d 1071 (D. Alaska 2004).

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