White House Author
Ron J. Whitener graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1994 and worked as a tribal attorney for the Squaxin Island Tribe (of which he is a member) representing the tribal government in treaty rights defense, tribal governance, Indian health and tribal economic development. In 2000, he became director of the Northwest Indian Law Clinic at the UW Law School representing low-income Natives in criminal and civil cases. In 2002, he changed the clinic to the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, focused solely on training law students to practice public defense in tribal courts. The Clinic acts as the primary public defender at four tribes in Washington State and since 2002, more than 100 law students have completed a full academic year of training and practice. In the last several years, Ron has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation to develop public defense resources for juveniles involved in tribal justice systems, including developing model juvenile codes and methods for providing legal representation using video conferencing. Ron teaches various courses in the fields of Indian law, health law and criminal law. Ron is Order of the Coif, Order of Barristers and, in 2009, he was awarded the Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician of the Year from the American Association of Law Schools. He is an Associate Justice on the Northwest Indian Court of Appeals and is the presiding judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Indian Reservation. He remains active at his tribe through participation on tribal council advisory committees and treaty commercial fishing.