Title Image

Attorneys & Staff

People Who Make A Difference

Nina Arranza-Riley

Senior Paralegal

Nina Arranza-Riley joined the Washington Appellate Project as a Legal Assistant in September 2011. She prepares, organizes and assembles files for attorney review and provides excellent administrative support through deadline reminders, document/correspondence preparation, detailed record-keeping, and general website and office maintenance. She is passionate about assisting clients with understanding the appeals process. Nina graduated from the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business in 2013.

Kate Benward

Staff Attorney

Kate Benward joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2017. She previously served as a staff attorney with the University of Washington Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, as a trial and appellate attorney with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, and as a public defender with the Colville Confederated Tribes. Kate earned her B.A. and J.D. at the University of Washington, and an M.A. at New York University.

Nancy Collins

Staff Attorney

Nancy Collins served as a trial and appellate public defender at the Legal Aid Society in New York City before joining the Washington Appellate Project in 1999. Nancy has argued and won many cases in the Washington Supreme Court and has also appeared in the U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some notable cases include State v. Jackson, 195 Wn.2d 841 (2020) (ruling that shackling an accused person at any court hearing is presumptively prejudicial error); State v. Berhe, 193 Wn.2d 647 (2019) (reversing due to implicit racial animus of deliberating jurors);  State v. Jasper, 174 Wn.2d 96 (2012) (holding State violates Confrontation Clause by offering clerk’s affidavit rather than live testimony); and State v. Monday, 171 Wn.2d 667 (2011) (prosecutor’s use of negative racial stereotypes requires reversal). She has been honored with the President’s Awards for distinguished service by both the Washington Defender Association and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Nancy graduated from Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Maureen Cyr

Staff Attorney

Maureen Cyr joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2002 after serving as a law clerk to Judge Marlin Appelwick at the Washington Court of Appeals. Maureen has served on the judicial screening committee of the King County Bar Association and the Personal Restraint Petition Task Force for the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Significant cases Maureen has argued include State v. Gresham, 173 Wn.2d 405 (2012) (holding statute that permits admission of evidence of prior sexual misconduct in sex offense cases is unconstitutional in violation of separation of powers doctrine); State v. Johnson, 188 Wn.2d 742 (2017) (holding Washington’s “law of the case” doctrine requiring State to prove every element contained in to-convict jury instruction continues to apply); and In re Dependency of M.S.D., 144 Wn. App. 468 (2008) (reversing dependency order, holding State did not prove mother failed to protect daughter from risk posed by boyfriend). Maureen earned her B.A. at Reed College, her M.A. at the University of California, and her J.D. at the Universtiy of Washington.

Oliver Davis

Staff Attorney

Oliver Davis joined the Washington Appellate Project in 1996 after working as an attorney at Levinson Friedman Vuggen Duggan and Bland. He has argued numerous cases in Washington appellate courts, including State v. Thiefault, 160 Wn.2d 409 (2007) (vacating sentence and remanding for resentencing where a prior out-of-state conviction was improperly included in offender score); State v . Coleman, 159 Wn.2d 509 (2007) (reversing conviction because trial court failed to give jury instruction requiring unanimous agreement as to which act defendant committed beyond a reasonable doubt); and State v. Barnett, 139 Wn.2d 462 (1999) (holding burglary committed by entry into a building after close of business where no one was injured or threatened was not a ‘crime against a person’ for purposes of sentencing). Oliver earned his B.A. at Reed and his J.D. at Seattle University.

Suzanne Elliott

Staff Attorney

–Under construction–

Kate Huber

Staff Attorney

Kate Huber joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2018 after serving as a staff attorney at the Innocence Project Northwest for two years. A committed public defender, Kate represented indigent clients at the Legal Aid Society in New York from 2002 to 2016. She started her legal career as a judicial clerk, first in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York, and then in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Kate earned her B.A. at the University of Minnesota and her J.D. at New York University.

Devon Knowles

Staff Attorney

Devon Knowles joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2018. She began her law career as a death penalty clerk for the New Jersey Supreme Court, then moved to the Northwest and served as a staff attorney at the Defender Association for five years. At TDA, she gained significant experience in criminal, dependency, and civil commitment cases. Devon has also worked as a visiting professor at Seattle University School of Law, and as a staff attorney at the University of Washington School of Law. She earned her B.A. at New York University and her J.D. at Columbia, where she earned several awards for scholarship and public service.

Richard Lechich

Staff Attorney

Richard Lechich joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2013. He served as a law clerk at the Washington Court of Appeals to Judge Mary Kay Becker in 2010-2012, and to Judge Lisa Worswick in 2013. Significant cases Richard has argued and won in the Washington State Supreme Court include: State v. Blake, 197 Wn.2d 170, 481 P.3d 521 (2021) (declaring Washington’s drug possession statute unconstitutional in violation of due process, resulting in thousands of drug possession convictions being vacated and new sentences for those with prior drug convictions); State v. A.M., 194 Wn.2d 33, 448 P.3d 35 (2019) (admission of inventory form that juvenile was compelled to sign at detention center was manifest constitutional error because it violated privilege against self-incrimination); Matter of Welfare of K.D., __ Wn.2d __, 491 P.3d 154 (2021) (Court of Appeals must not add the names of parents to case titles in dependency and termination appeals, and must exclude the child’s birthdate in addition to redacting the child’s name). Richard earned both his B.A. and J.D. at the University of Washington.

Gregory Link

Director

Gregory Link has been with the Washington Appellate Project since 1995 and became its Director in 2016. Greg has argued more than 50 cases in the Washington Supreme Court, including State v. Delbosque, 456 P.3d 806 (2020) (holding court did not properly consider mitigating qualities of youth at resentencing and that error was appealable of right); State v. Allen, 192 Wn.2d 526 (2018) (holding double jeopardy barred retrial on aggravating factors); State v. O’Dell, 183 Wn.2d 680 (2015) (holding youth is a proper basis for a mitigated sentence below the standard range in cases involving young adult defendants); State v. S.J.C., 183 Wn.2d 408 (2015) (holding statute permitting former juvenile offenders to seal their records under certain circumstances does not violate article I, section 10 of the Washington Constitution); State v. Allen, 182 Wn.2d 364 (2015) (reversing convictions for four counts of first-degree murder because prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct by repeatedly misstating the law of accomplice liability); and State v. W.R., 181 Wn.2d 757 (2014) (holding State bears burden of proving complaining witness did not consent to sex in alleged rape cases). In 2006, Greg argued Washington v. Recuenco, 548 U.S. 212 (2006) in the United States Supreme Court.

 

Greg has served on the board of directors of the Washington Defender Association since 2009. He has served on the Washington Sentencing Guideline Commission since 2017 and the Washington Legislative Sentencing Task Force since 2019. In 2012, he received the Washington Defender Association’s President’s Award. Greg earned his B.A. at Oregon State University and his J.D. at Gonzaga University.

Tiffinie Ma

Staff Attorney

Tiffinie Ma joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2017 after working as a trial attorney with the Snohomish County Public Defender Association. She has long been committed to public service, and participated in both the Tribal Defense Clinic and the Race and Justice Clinic while in law school. Tiffinie earned her B.A. at New York University and her J.D. at the University of Washington.

Chris Petroni

Staff Attorney

Chris joined the Washington Appellate Project in February 2020.  Prior to joining WAP, he clerked for the Hon. Michael W. Mosman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and the Hon. Mary H. Murguia of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Chris then spent four years as an associate at the Seattle office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C.  Chris graduated from UC Hastings, College of the Law in 2013, where he volunteered at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office for several semesters.  Before law school, he served as a high school teacher and union official in Prescott, Washington.

Maria Riley

Office Administrator & Paralegal

Maria Arranza Riley has worked with the Washington Appellate Project since August 2000, providing exceptional paralegal and administrative support for our attorneys, which includes court filing and preparing related pleadings, correspondence, notices and motions. As office manager, Maria oversees the perfection of all assigned appeals and supervises the administrative staff. She communicates with court personnel across the state on case-related issues and monitors filing time frames and deadlines in the Superior, Appellate and Supreme courts. She obtained a certificate in paralegal studies in June, 2000.

Lila Silverstein

Staff Attorney

Lila Silverstein is passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of individuals and ensuring equal access to justice for all. An appellate public defender since 2006, Lila’s most notable case is State v. Gregory, 192 Wn.2d 1 (2018) (with co-counsel Neil Fox). Lila commissioned a statistical study on race and the death penalty in Washington and argued the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner. In 2018, the Washington Supreme Court agreed and invalidated Washington’s capital punishment scheme.

 

Apart from Gregory, Lila has handled numerous other cases in the state supreme court, including State v. E.J.J., 183 Wn.2d 497 (2015) (reversing obstruction conviction and reaffirming First Amendment right to criticize the police); State v. Saintcalle, 178 Wn.2d 34 (2013) (recognizing pervasive problem of race discrimination in jury selection); and State v. Snapp, 174 Wn.2d 177 (2012) (holding the Washington Constitution provides stronger privacy protection than the Fourth Amendment in the context of car searches). Outside of case work, she volunteers her time presenting CLEs, writing amicus briefs, and serving on bar committees. Lila wrote significant sections of Washington’s General Rule 37, which provides strong protection against race discrimination in jury selection and is being emulated in other jurisdictions. For her work, Lila has received the King County Bar Association’s Outstanding Lawyer of the Year Award, the William O. Douglas Award from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Kathleen Taylor Civil Libertarian Award from the ACLU of Washington, the Distinguished Service Award from the Civil Rights Section of the WSBA, President’s Awards from both WACDL and the Washington Defender Association, and the Abolitionist of the Year Award from the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Travis Stearns

Staff Attorney

Travis Stearns joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2015 after serving for several years as deputy director of the Washington Defender Association, where he focused on training and policy reform, both locally and nationally. Travis began his public defense career at the Legal Aid Society in New York and later worked at the Whatcom County Public Defender in Bellingham. He is a member of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Minority and Justice Commission and an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law where he teaches a seminar for criminal law externs. Travis has provided amicus support in significant cases including State v. Houston-Sconiers, 188 Wn.2d 1 (2017) (holding courts sentencing juveniles have discretion to impose any sentence below the otherwise applicable range and enhancements); State v. Maynard, 183 Wn.2d 253 (2015) (remanding for further proceedings under the Juvenile Justice Act where defendant’s counsel was ineffective in failing to extend juvenile court jurisdiction before defendant turned 18); and State v. Blazina, 182 Wn.2d 827 (2015) (holding courts must inquire into defendants’ ability to pay before imposing discretionary costs). Travis has been recognized for his work in indigent defense and education, including awards from the Northwest Immigration Rights Project and Seattle University School of Law.

Sara Taboada

Staff Attorney

Sara Taboada is a 2016 graduate of Seattle University School of Law. Before joining the Washington Appellate Project as a full time staff attorney in 2017, Sara interned at the Washington Appellate Project, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, the Youth Advocacy Clinic at Seattle University, and Columbia Legal Services.  Additionally, she served as a Research and Technical Editor for the Seattle Journal for Social Justice. Cases Sara has argued and won include In re the Welfare of G.C.B. and M.J.B., State v. Crouch, and State v. Hanowell. Sara also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University, and she is fluent in Spanish.

Jan Trasen

Staff Attorney

Jan Trasen joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2008 after serving as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society in New York for 10 years. While in New York, she also spent a year as a law clerk to United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom. Jan currently serves on the judicial evaluation committee for the Cardozo Society and on the board of directors for the National Charity League and the Ruby Room, a non-profit organization benefiting teens in the foster system. Jan’s significant cases include State v. Stump, 185 Wn.2d 454 (2016) (reversing imposition of appellate costs where defendant’s attorney moved to withdraw and no merits brief was filed); State v. Lemke 7 Wn. App. 2d 23 (2018) (reversing sentence where judge’s decision was influenced by personal animus); and State v. Ibarra Guevara, 172 Wn. App. 184 (2012) (reversing conviction because police invaded child’s privacy without authority of law in violation of article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution). Jan formerly taught middle school through Teach for America, and earned her B.A. at Tufts and her J.D. at Boston College.

Beverly Tsai

Staff Attorney

–Under construction–

Jessica Wolfe

Staff Attorney

Jessica Wolfe joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2018.  She previously served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, where she litigated class action cases protecting the civil rights of individuals with mental illness and opioid disorders in Washington jails.  Prior to that, she served as a law clerk to Judge Ronald Gould of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Jessica earned her B.S. at Northwestern, her Masters in International Human Rights Law at Oxford, and her J.D. at the University of Washington, where she was a Gates Public Service Law Scholar.