Judge William Dwyer’s legacy recognized by alumni philanthropy

Lonnie Rosenwald ’94 admired Federal District Court Judge William Dwyer long before she began studying the law.

As a journalist, Rosenwald covered the tragic Charles Goldmark murder case and subsequent trial in 1986. As part of her research, she read Dwyer’s book about his successful representation of John Goldmark 20 years earlier. Goldmark was an Eastern Washington farmer and Democratic lawmaker falsely accused by a newspaper of being a communist. The libel trial put a then-34-year-old Dwyer on the national stage.

When Rosenwald made the leap from newspapers to law school at UW, she sought an externship with Dwyer in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, even though he had a policy not to accept 1Ls.

“He gave me an opportunity as a first-year student to work in a courtroom,” said Rosenwald, vice president and chief counsel for technology creation and commercialization at Intellectual Ventures. “He was a great mentor of mine, and he had a continuing interest in me and so many others.”

Now, 13 years after his death, Rosenwald and other former clerks and externs are leading fundraising efforts to expand the writing competition established in Dwyer’s name into a scholarship. In 2005, the Federal Bar Association for Western District of Washington and UW Law established the William L. Dwyer Jury Project Award Competition, which awards $2,500 to the student who writes the best paper about the jury system. Rosenwald and others made additional gifts and are seeking donations to reach a $100,000 goal to fund a scholarship.

Dwyer made landmark rulings over his 15 years as judge, including a decision to protect the spotted owl by halting of logging to enforce the Endangered Species Act and. As a lawyer, he represented the state and King County in a suit against Major League Baseball, which led to the creation of the Seattle Mariners in 1976.

Rosenwald, a past president of the Alumni Association, the first president of the Leadership Council and a member the Capital Campaign Committee, is on the board that judges the competition. She said it’s a fitting way to honor the esteemed judge, who wrote the acclaimed, “In the Hands of the People: The Trial Jury’s Origins, Triumphs, Troubles, and Future in American Democracy.”

“He was a huge proponent of the jury trial, of having a case heard by jury of your peers,” Rosenwald said. “He was also a great writer, who was keen on making sure anything coming from his courtroom was well-written.”

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