The UW law school's Director of the
Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic and Assistant Professor Ron Whitener '94 has been awarded the M. Shanara Gilbert "Emerging Clinician" Award from the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Clinical Legal Education.
The award will be presented to Whitener at the Conference on Clinical Legal Education at a special ceremony on Friday, May 8, at 9:00 a.m., in Cleveland, Ohio.
Through the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, Whitener has made access to justice a reality for clients and has helped to train a new generation of advocates for American Indians. For many American Indians, the clinic is the only source of representation for those facing criminal charges because tribal courts are not required by law to provide legal representation. Whitener helped build the clinical program at UW and has been a resource to other clinical programs.
Whitener graduated from the UW School of Law in 1994 and went to work as a tribal attorney for the Squaxin Island Tribe (of which he is a member) where he represented the tribal government in treaty rights defense, gaming and enterprises, and infrastructure development. In January 2000, he left Squaxin Island to take a position with the Northwest Justice Project's (NJP) Native American Unit in Seattle. At the NJP he headed the Indian Law Clinic, a joint project between the NJP and the UW School of Law. In 2002, Professor Whitener left the NJP to take over the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic, a project of the UW School of Law Native American Law Center.