Leonard Schroeter

IN MEMORIAM (1924-2014)

 

Leonard Schroeter was a major force in the plaintiff’s bar for over 40 years.  While he attended Harvard Law School, he taught constitutional history for two years at Northeastern University and directed its Center for International Relations.

When the civil rights movement emerged in 1963-1964, he became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC). The late Justice Thurgood Marshall headed LCDC, a loose federation of groups which represented blacks arrested in civil rights demonstrations in Southern states.  With this group Schroeter traveled to Mississippi and other Southern states in 1965.

After relocating to Washington State in 1953, Schroeter served as deputy prosecuting attorney for King County. At the request of then Seattle mayor Allan Pomeroy, Schroeter was appointed to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Police Practices in 1955 to investigate a large number of instances of alleged police brutality. He became a board member of the ACLU of Washington in 1953 and in 1964 became the first national board member from the Pacific Northwest. He then started a trial practice (Schroeter Goldmark Bender) at a firm that still bears his name. In 1997, he left SGB with Paul Whelan, Mike Withey and Kevin Coluccio to form a firm with Paul Stritmatter and Keith Kessler, now Stritmatter Kessler, where he continued his commitment to public interest and constitutional law.

He was also active in international law/legal affairs, serving as Principal Legal Assistant to the Attorney General of Israel. From 1970 to mid-1972 Schroeter’s major assignment as principal legal assistant to Israel’s attorney general was to mobilize world opinion to the human rights of Jews who were prohibited from leaving the Soviet Union.

For more than a decade, he represented Samizdat (underground) writers and human rights advocates in the former Soviet Union. Making clandestine visits, Schroeter met with dissident Soviet writers, including Andre Sakharov, and with Jews striving to leave the USSR. This visit accelerated his involvement in their causes. After returning to the U.S. in September 1972 he tried, but failed, to interest the Nixon administration in these human rights causes. Schroeter then turned to his senator, Henry M. Jackson of Washington State, who adopted them. The Trade Act of 1974, commonly known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, was the result. This law made non-market economy countries that denied their citizens the right to emigrate ineligible for normal trade relations with the U.S. After 1994, Schroeter’s focused his efforts on issues of access to justice and protecting Constitutional rights, eventually founding the Schroeter Constitutional Center.

Leonard is survived by his wife, Alice, and his children, Josh, Daniel, Benjamin, David Michael, Caitlin and Sara.

We salute you, Leonard. 

Leonard Schroeter with paralegal, Alice Ballmer.

Leonard Schroeter with paralegal, Alice Ballmer.

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AAJ CEO, Linda Lipsen, releases heartfelt statement honoring leonard

“Lawyers like Leonard Schroeter are rare. We are honored and lucky to have benefitted from his leadership and his perseverance in fighting for the rights of individuals and families across this nation.”


Awards & Achievements

Trial Lawyer of the Year
Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, 1993

A lawyer who advances the art and skill of advocacy, either in trial or by training others so as to benefit humankind. (now known as WSAJ)

Harry M. Philo Award
Association of Trial Lawyers of America, 1994

For his unwavering dedication and service to his clients and community, his steadfast pursuit of justice for all through our civil justice system and the rule of law, and his unflagging support for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America

Citation of Excellence Wiedmann Wysocki Award
American Association for Justice, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997
The Wiedemann & Wysocki Award recognizes AAJ members who have made outstanding efforts to support AAJ PAC and advance AAJ’s political priorities.

President’s Public Interest Award
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, 1990

Now known as “Public Justice”

Public Justice Achievement Award
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
No known as “Public Justice”

Special Lifetime Service Award
Washington State Bar Association, 2000
This award is a special award given for a lifetime of service to the legal community and the public.

Memberships

Washington State Bar Association

Washington State Trial Lawyers Association
• President, 1963-1964

American Civil Liberties Union
• WA State President
• WA State Board of Directors
• National Board of Directors

Association of Trial Lawyers of America
Board of Governors

Association of Trial Lawyers Assurance
• Founder and National Board Member

Government Accountability Project
• National Board Member

Education

Harvard University, LL.B., J.D., 1951

Indiana University; University of Chicago, M.A., International Relations, 1948