2006 Distinguished alumni awards
W. Hillier, II
Bainbridge Island, Washington
College graduate 1969
Professional achievement award
In 1982 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals appointed Thomas Hillier, II
to be the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of
Washington. Since then Mr. Hillier has more than justified the
confidence that appointment represented. Known as a passionate, tireless
and ‘truly visionary leader’, Hillier is recognized for his intense
dedication to his belief that all individuals charged with capital
crimes, regardless of available financial resources, deserve zealous and
first-rate representation. As one of the longest serving public
defenders in the nation, Hillier has provided outstanding quality
representation to the poor, the forgotten and, often even the despised.
broke with his Spokane family tradition when he accepted a scholarship
to attend Saint Martin’s College. After graduating in 1969 from SMC with
a degree in Economics, Hillier attended night classes at Gonzaga
University School of Law, graduating in 1973.
His contributions to our guarantee of justice and freedom have not
gone unnoticed. He has received the Outstanding Service Award
from the Federal Bar Association of Western Washington, the Washington
State Bar Association’s Angelo Petrus Award in recognition of his
‘significant contributions to the public’ and the Washington Association
of Criminal Defense Attorney’s
William O. Douglas Award for ‘extraordinary courage and dedication
to the practice of criminal law’. In 1998 Gonzaga University Law School
presented him with their highest honor, the Gonzaga Law Medal for
service in the cause of justice “in an exceptional manner’ and who
provides a true example “of the Jesuit ideal of being ‘a person for
In 1991 Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed Hillier to the
nine member Committee to Review the Criminal Justice Act. In 1994
Hillier returned to Saint Martin’s College to present the commencement
address at graduation ceremonies. The following year he was inducted as
a Fellow in the American College of Trail Lawyers. In 1996 the ACLU of
Washington presented him with its highest honor – the
William O. Douglas Award given ‘for outstanding and sustained
contributions to the cause of civil liberties’.
In 2000 Chief Justice Rehnquist once again honored Hillier with an
appointment to the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence.
Hillier is an active member of the Federal Defender Training Committee
and the Sentencing Guidelines Committee. In 2005 Hillier earned the
Seattle-King County Bar Association’s Outstanding Lawyer Award
for distinguished service to the legal profession and the public.
Hillier, his wife Stephanie, and their two children, Annie and Kerry
Rose, have lived on Bainbridge Island since 1976.