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King County executive appoints criminal defense lawyer to head Office of Public Defense

A well regarded local attorney with more than 30 years experience in the King and Pierce County justice systems has been named today by King County Executive Dow Constantine to head the County’s Office of Public Defense.

“Dave Chapman’s great breadth of knowledge and his first-hand experience with so many aspects of the criminal justice system – as a judge, as a prosecutor, as a public defender, and as a private attorney – make him uniquely qualified to lead our office of public defense through the coming years,” said Executive Constantine.

The appointment of David K. Chapman, which comes at the completion of a national search, is subject to confirmation by the Metropolitan King County Council. The Office of Public Defense is a division within the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). He will work closely with the County Executive.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve King County as the Director of the Office of Public Defense,” said Chapman. “King County has shown a strong commitment to providing access to justice and appointing counsel for those who could not afford it. I look forward to working within the King County justice system to continue to improve our delivery of public defense services.”

Chapman began his legal career in 1982 as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Pierce County Prosecutors Office. He left that position to join the Associated Counsel for the Accused (ACA), a nonprofit firm that contracts to provide defense services to indigent clients, including a contract for public defense services with King County. He worked as a public defense attorney and misdemeanor supervisor. He left ACA in 1986 to work in private practice and serve as a Pro-tem Judge for both Pierce and King County, where for 13 years he presided over both criminal and civil cases in District and Municipal Courts. Mr. Chapman returned to ACA in 1999-2008 to serve as Managing Director for the agency, responsible for managing 100+ attorneys, developing annual budgets and revenue-to-expense reports, and collaborating with partners on system-wide criminal justice issues.

“Dave Chapman is an experienced public defender, manager and trial lawyer who will provide great leadership for the Office of Public Defense,” said King County Superior Court Judge Michael J. Trickey.

Chapman has been a private practice attorney assisting persons charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and felony offenses. He is an accomplished legal practice educator and trainer, and has published numerous articles on a wide range of issues related to the criminal justice system.

“David’s longtime experience working within the criminal justice system of King County makes him an excellent choice to head up our office of public defense and I look forward to working with him,” said Metropolitan King County Council Chair Larry Gossett.

Chapman is a resident of Vashon who earned his law degree from Seattle University School of Law in 1981. His appointment as director for OPD begins July 30, 2012.

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