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 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 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.
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 has been practicing law for more than 30 years. She began her career as a staff attorney for the Washington State Supreme Court. She was previously the Director of the Washington Appellate Defender Association. In 1995 she opened her private practice which emphasized appellate and other post-conviction matters in the state and federal courts. She has obtained reversals of the death sentence in several cases. She argued Uttecht v. Brown, 551 U.S. 1 (2007), before the United States Supreme Court.
In 2020 Suzanne closed her private practice and joined the Washington Appellate Project, happily returning to her roots in public defense.
She has been named a Washington Super Lawyer and is Martindale-Hubbell AV rated. In 2004 she received the King County Bar Association Outstanding Lawyer Award as part of the Gary Ridgeway Defense Team. In 2015, she received the William O. Douglas Award, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ highest honor.
Suzanne is a life-long resident of Washington. She graduated from Whitman College in 1979 and the University of Puget Sound Law School (now Seattle University Law School) in 1982.
Kate Huber joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2018 after serving two years as staff attorney and litigation coordinator at the Innocence Project Northwest. A committed public defender, Kate represented indigent clients as a trial attorney at the Legal Aid Society in New York from 2002 to 2016. She started her legal career in 2000 as a law clerk, first for the Honorable Robert P. Patterson, Jr., in the Southern District of New York, and then for the Honorable Rosemary S. Pooler 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. Kate’s notable wins include State v. M.S., 197 Wn.2d 453 (2021) (holding juveniles have the right to notice of the factual basis and aggravating factors supporting a manifest injustice sentence before deciding whether to plead or go to trial); State v. Espinoza, 14 Wn. App. 2d 810 (2020) (reversing conviction for violation of right to unanimous jury verdict); and State v. Dollarhyde, 9 Wn. App. 2d 351 (2019) (reversing and dismissing failure to register conviction for insufficient evidence).
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 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 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 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.
Moses Okeyo joined the Washington Appellate Project May 2022. During the pandemic, Moses moved to Washington while still working remotely for the State of Montana.
Before law school, Moses lived in Helena, Montana and worked as a software engineer implementing a commercial off the shelf tax application for the Montana Department of Revenue. In 2008, he left his computer programing career to attend law school in Bloomington Indiana. After graduating law school, he returned to Montana to clerk for the Montana Tax Appeal Board, a three-judge-panel. Moses worked for the Montana’s Office of the Public Defender’s appellate division where he argued over 100 cases to the Montana Supreme Court. In Montana he argued in State v. Reams, 2020 MT 326(Reversing an incest conviction because the trial court incorrectly denied Reams the right to present his own educational expert in his case-in-chief to rebut the State’s experts); State v. Running Wolf, 2020 MT 24 (Reversing the Persistent Felony Offender Designation because the plain statutory language required Running Wolf to be already convicted of the predicating felony before the time he committed the new felony offense); and State v. Tome, 2021 MT 229 (Reversing a rape conviction because the trial court admitted the victim’s testimonial statements in violation of the Tome’s right to confrontation guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.)
His website showcases some cases he argued to the Montana Supreme Court: http://www.mosesokeyo.com/montana-supreme-court-cases.
Moses Okeyo brings a wealth of experience from his seven years arguing in front of the Montana Supreme Court.Moses is also passionate about providing probono legal services to those who cannot afford them.
Moses earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science and Math from Idaho State (2005), and his J.D. (2014) from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
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 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 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 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 joined the Washington Appellate Project as a full time staff attorney in 2017. Prior to this, Sara interned at various organizations that work towards transforming the criminal justice system, including the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Columbia Legal Services, and the Washington Appellate Project. Significant cases Sara has argued and won include State v. Bedada, 13 Wn. App. 2d 185, 463 P.3d 125 (2020) (reversing conviction because the trial court did not admit relevant evidence concerning immigration status); In the Matter of the Dependency of J.M.W., 199 Wn.2d 837, 514 P.3d 186 (2022) (holding the Washington Indian Child Welfare Act requires the State to prove it expended active efforts to prevent the breakup of a Native family at certain emergency removal hearings); and State v. Tesfasilasye, 200 Wn.2d 345, 518 P.3d 193 (2022) (reversing conviction because the court improperly allowed the prosecutor to exercise two peremptory strikes against two jurors of color). Sara earned her law degree at Seattle University School of Law and her Bachelor’s Degree at San Francisco State University.
Jan Trasen joined the Washington Appellate Project in 2008 after serving as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society in New York City. While in New York, she served 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 Ruby Room, a non-profit organization benefiting teens in the foster system, and is active in the National Charity League. Jan’s significant cases include State v. Stump, 185 Wn.2d 454 (2016) (reversing imposition of appellate costs where defendant’s attorney filed an Anders brief); Dependency of E.M., 197 Wn.2d 492 (2021) (finding privately retained attorney need not be appointed by court); and State v. Lemke, 7 Wn. App. 2d 23 (2018) (reversing sentence where judge’s decision was influenced by personal animus). Jan formerly taught middle school through Teach for America, and earned her B.A. at Tufts University and her J.D. at Boston College.
Beverly Tsai joined the Washington Appellate Project as a staff attorney in 2021 after serving as a law clerk to Justice Montoya-Lewis at the Washington Supreme Court. As a law student, she interned in the Ninth Circuit, the Washington Supreme Court, the ACLU-Washington, and the Washington Appellate Project. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she graduated summa cum laude from Seattle University School of Law’s part-time program, where she received the Dean’s Medal. Beverly is a member of the Asian Bar Association of Washington and QLaw Association.
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 use disorders in Washington jails. Prior to that, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald M. Gould of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Jessica’s significant wins include State v. M.N.H., 199 Wn.2d 337 (2022) (children have a statutory right to counsel at community supervision violation hearings and this right cannot be waived by the child’s silence) and In the Matter of the Detention of D.H., 533 P.3d 97 (2023) (the State “totally disregards” the Involuntary Treatment Act when it detains someone without authority of law, and the appropriate remedy is dismissal of the commitment petition). Jessica was also a co-author of an amicus brief on behalf of family defense providers, including the Washington Appellate Project, in Haaland v. Brackeen, 143 S. Ct. 1609 (2023) (upholding the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act). 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.