James E. Lobsenz
James E. Lobsenz joined the firm in 1989 through the merger of his firm, Wolfe & Lobsenz, P.S., with the Carney firm.

Mr. Lobsenz has an extensive appellate practice in both the state and federal appellate courts. His substantive areas of experience are constitutional law, freedom of speech, police misconduct, civil rights, criminal defense law, employment law and evidence.

After clerking for the Honorable Mathew O. Tobriner, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, and the Honorable Vincent L. McKusick, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, Mr. Lobsenz came to Seattle and served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County for three years. Later he served as a public defender before going into private practice.

Mr. Lobsenz is the author of several law review articles, and he is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seattle University, where he teaches courses on constitutional law, the First Amendment and civil rights litigation.

Mr. Lobsenz is the author of the website Seattle Criminal Appeals, where he publishes information on the criminal appeals process and representative cases.

Honors and Recognitions

Mr. Lobsenz is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. In 2009, Mr. Lobsenz received the William O. Douglas Award from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in recognition of exceptional lifetime courage and dedication to the defense of persons accused of crime. He also has received the 2010 Community Leadership Award from Washington's GLBT Bar Association for his work opposing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the armed forces; the 1991 Civil Libertarian Award from the Washington ACLU; and the 1985 Human Rights Day Award from the Seattle Chapter of the United Nations Association.

He has been named by Washington Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in the state for each of the last sixteen years, including 2016, and a Top Lawyer by Seattle Magazine for multiple years.

He was recognized by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as one of King County's "Top Lawyers 2010." Seattle Metropolitan Magazine culled their list using the Martindale-Hubbell® ratings. He has been awarded an "AV" Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating is given to attorneys who demonstrate the highest ethical standards and professional ability.


  • JD, UC Berkeley School of Law, 1978
  • MA, Stanford University, 1975
  • BA, Political Science, Stanford University, 1974

Bar and Court Admissions

  • State of Washington
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
  • U.S. Court of Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • Army Court of Criminal Appeals

Representative Cases

Mr. Lobsenz has argued over 25 cases in the Washington Supreme Court and over 150 appeals in the state and federal courts. His past cases include the following:

  • Fisher Broadcasting – Seattle TV v. City of Seattle, 180 Wn.2d 515, 326 P.3d 688 (2014) (counsel for amicus curiae)
  • State v. Lau, 174 Wn. App. 857, 300 P.3d 838 (2013)
  • Tatham v. Rogers, 170 Wn. App 76 (2012)
  • Yates v. Fithian, 2010 WL 3788272 (W.D. Wash. 2010)
  • State v. Sutherby, 165 Wn2d 870 (2009)
  • Witt v. Department of the Air Force, 527 F.3d 806 (9th Cir. 2008)
  • Watada v. Head, 530 F.Supp.2d 1136 (W.D.Wash. 2007)
  • M.L. v. Federal Way School District, 394 F. 3d 634 (9th Cir.) cert. denied 345 U.S. 1128 (2005)
  • State v. Stein, 144 Wn.2d 236 (2001)
  • King v. Olympic Pipeline Co., 104 Wn. App 338 (2000)
  • Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Siland County, 87 Wn. App. 552 (1997)
  • Washington State Physicians Exchange v. Fisons, 122 Wn.2d 299 (1993)
  • Ski Acres, Inc. v. Kittitas County, 118 Wn 2d 852 (1992)
  • Employco Personnel Services v. Seattle, 117 Wn 2d 606 (1991)
  • In re Blauvelt, 115 Wn.2d 735, 801 P.2d 235 (1990)
  • Thao v. Control Data Corporation, 57 Wn. App. 802 (1990)
  • Watkins v. United States Army, 875 F. 2d 699 (9th Cir. 1989) (en banc), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 957 (1990)
  • Levison v. Washington Horse Racing Comm'n, 48 Wn. App. 822 (1987)


  • "Raising and Litigating Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims," Washington Criminal Defense, Vol. 16, No. 3 (August 2002)
  • "The Residential Tenant's Right to Freedom of Political Expression," (co-author) 10 University of Puget Sound Law Review 1 (1987)
  • "A Constitutional Right to an Appeal: Guarding Against Unacceptable Risks of Erroneous Conviction," 8 University of Puget Sound Law Review 375 (1985)
  • "Bakke, Lochner, and Law School: The Nobility Clause Versus a Republican Form of Medicine," 32 Maine Law Review 1 (1980)

Professional Associations

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, previously served on legal committee for thirty-seven years; former board member
  • Northwest Women's Law Center
  • Society of Counsel for the Representation of Accused Persons, board of directors
  • Stanford Club of Western Washington, former board member
  • Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, former board member
  • Washington State Bar Association

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