U.S. attorney, Issaquah native, receives top honor

April 2, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. April 2, 2011

Seattle University School of Law leaders honored Issaquah native Jenny Durkan, the top federal prosecutor in the region, on Thursday for a strong commitment to women’s issues and acting as a role model for others.

Durkan, the U.S. attorney for Western Washington, received the 2011 Woman of the Year Award from the Seattle University School of Law and the Women’s Law Caucus.

Dean Mark Niles praised Durkan for a lifelong dedication to justice.

“I’ve been told the surest way to get Jenny to do something is to tell her how it will help someone else,” he said in remarks posted on the law school website.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama selected Durkan to serve as U.S. attorney for the district — encompassing 19 counties, about 25,000 square miles and almost 5 million people. In a unanimous decision, senators confirmed the appointment months later.

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County expands Mental Health Court to Issaquah

July 13, 2010

King County plans to expand Mental Health Court — a groundbreaking program launched in the aftermath of a tragedy — to Issaquah by late July.

Launched as a pilot program in February 1999, the court uses a team approach to place defendants in treatment for mental illness. Supporters said the program bridges the gap between mental health treatment and criminal justice systems.

The court accepts mentally ill misdemeanor offenders, and then monitors them during court-ordered treatment. Participants waive a trial and agree to participate in treatment.

The court assigns a team — including a judge, prosecutor, public defender, treatment court liaison and probation officers — to monitor defendants throughout the process. Participants can be jailed for straying from the program.

District Court and elected officials announced the expansion July 9 at the Issaquah Courthouse.

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County expands Mental Health Court to Issaquah

July 9, 2010

NEW — 12:30 p.m. July 9, 2010

King County plans to expand Mental Health Court — a groundbreaking program launched in the aftermath of a tragedy — to Issaquah by late July.

Launched as a pilot program in February 1999, the court uses a team approach to place defendants in treatment for mental illness. Supporters said the program bridges the gap between the mental health treatment and criminal justice systems.

The court accepts mentally ill misdemeanor offenders, and then monitors them during court-ordered treatment. Participants waive a trial and agree to participate in treatment.

The court assigns a team — including a judge, prosecutor, public defender, treatment court liaison and probation officers — to monitor defendants throughout the process. Participants can be jailed for straying from the program.

District Court and elected officials announced the expansion Friday at the Issaquah Courthouse.

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Raising the bar: U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan hails from Issaquah

May 18, 2010

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington, talks in her office at the federal courthouse in downtown Seattle about her role as the top federal prosecutor in the region. By Greg Farrar

The future U.S. attorney for Western Washington — the top federal prosecutor in the region — had a singular goal as a girl growing up in then-rural Issaquah.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer, from the time I was very, very young — grade school,” Jenny Durkan recalled. “When I was in grade school, my sister and I always used to talk about how we wanted to be lawyers, and I imagined being kind of a storefront-type lawyer.”

President Obama instead picked the daughter of influential state Sen. Martin Durkan for U.S. attorney last May.

Martin and Lorraine “Lolly” Durkan raised eight children near Lake Sammamish. Jenny Durkan stood out as the first girl to become a Sunset Elementary School safety patrol member.

Nationwide, 93 U.S. attorneys prosecute federal crimes and represent the federal government in their districts. Durkan works from a fifth-floor office at the postmodern courthouse in downtown Seattle.

“As my mother said when I graduated from law school, ‘Finally, someone is going to pay you to argue,’” she recalled. “I think I had a natural affinity for debate.”

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