Long a pillar of the Juneau legal community as a litigator in trial and appellate courts, Doug has taken pro bono cases and previously volunteered at the Early Resolution Project and MLK Day of Services. He is best known as plaintiff’s counsel in the school free speech case Morse v. Fredrick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007) which Doug argued all the way to the Supreme Court. Read on for our full interview with Doug below:
Why did you choose to volunteer with ALSC?
I first worked with ALSC back in the late 1970s, when I was an assistant attorney general doing Native law work, and ALSC represented a number of tribes, and we were often on opposing sides. Later, when I was the main state attorney on Native Law matters, the people of Klukwan asked me to work to reclaim their stolen sacred Whale House objects after ALSC was not able to help, and I managed to have the objects seized and safeguarded by Alaska State Troopers and Washington State police before they disappeared into the dark world of the international art market. (ALSC then took over the litigation of ownership issues, successfully.) Many of the ALSC attorneys were class acts and good to work with. I left the AG’s Office and went into private practice doing mainly civil rights work, including harassment cases, so it made sense for me to work with ALSC on domestic relations matters.
What are some of your experiences at ALSC that have made a positive difference in the lives of others and/or the community?
The last case I did at ALSC’s request involved a pedophile with multiple convictions who groomed a teenage boy and talked him onto a plane to Nevada; The Juneau Police were given a tip and contacted the Reno police, who met the plane and arrested the perp. He was given a life sentence by a federal judge. From his cell he then sued the boy’s mom and her sister in state court for slander for turning him in to the police and FBI. So I undertook the mom’s defense, got the slander case dismissed, and then undertook a successful defense of his appeal in the Alaska Supreme Court. A long haul for the mom, which wouldn’t have been possible without a volunteer attorney.
How do you think your experiences with ALSC will benefit you in the future?
Some types of issues have always been with us and always will be: domestic violence, mental health issues, sexual harassment, and similar non-glitzy issues that rarely get the attention of attorneys who require big fees. The more experienced you are with such matters the more effective you can be in delivering economical justice services to people of all income levels.
What do you do when you are not volunteering with ALSC?
Whenever I can I’m on the water in a canoe, kayak, or rowing skiff. I also help my wife, Margo Waring, who is involved in all sorts of good works on behalf of the community and the environment. We just got a 1984 VW Westfalia van, which we’ll use to travel around the Southwest when the sun isn’t shining in Juneau. I’m a member of the Alaska State Medical Board, and I’m also very involved with the American Friends Service Committee and several other Quaker organizations. And I’m still dealing with a U.S. Supreme Court case over student free speech (the Bong Hits for Jesus case) from some fifteen years ago, now figuring out where the Bong Hits banner should go since the Newseum, in D.C., which had it, has now closed. Never a dull moment.