News Release

Attorney and Racial Justice Activist Jeffery Robinson Honored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Washington, DC (Oct. 23) – Attorney and Racial Justice Activist Jeffery Robinson was presented the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Champion of Justice Legal Award at the association’s 2023 Redemption Gala. Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed upon those individuals who – through legislative, journalistic, philanthropic, or humanitarian pursuits – have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of individuals in the United States and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.

Robinson is the executive director of The Who We Are Project and is a former ACLU deputy legal director and the director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which houses the organization’s work on criminal justice, racial justice, and reform issues. Since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981, Robinson has four decades of experience working on these issues. For seven years, he represented indigent clients in state court at The Defender Association and then in federal court at the Federal Public Defender’s Office, both in Seattle. In 1988, Robinson began a 27-year private practice at the Seattle firm of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, where he represented a broad range of clients in local, state, and federal courts. He has tried over 200 criminal cases to verdict and more than a dozen civil cases representing plaintiffs suing corporate and government entities. Robinson was one of the original members of the John Adams Project and worked on the behalf of one of five men held at Guantanamo Bay charged with carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

“Jeff exemplifies all of the qualities that define the NACDL Champion of Justice Award,” said his former Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender colleague, Colette Tvedt. “He is thoughtful, he’s a thinker, he’s inspirational, he’s represented hundreds of clients in state and federal court, he’s a civil rights activist, an educator, a filmmaker, a valued friend and mentor to so many of us sitting in this room.”

Robinson’s documentary, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, was released in 2022. The film explores the history of white supremacism in the US and the anti-Black racism that still permeates American laws and systems. Speaking about the film, Tvedt said, “Every single person in this room; every school in this country, from elementary school, through high school, through college to graduate school; it should be mandatory to watch this film…it is something that is lifechanging, and it’s scary, and profound, and necessary.” His nonprofit, The Who We Are Project, promulgates the reality of our true history using the film and other educational tools.

Robinson is a faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College and has lectured on trial skills all over the United States. He has also spoken nationally to diverse audiences on the role of race in the criminal legal system. He is an elected fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and an NACDL life member and past member of its board of directors. Most recently, Robinson was invited as the Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School.


Jessie Diamond, Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7647 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.

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