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Attorney in Otto Zehm case to present Whitworth's annual Constitution Day Lecture Sept. 14

September 12, 2011
The Whitworth University 2011 Constitution Day Lecture will feature a lecture by Jeffry Finer, a Spokane criminal-defense attorney working on the Otto Zehm case, who will discuss the importance of the Sixth Amendment and the rights of defendants. His lecture, "Your Best Friend You Never Want to Meet – Your Criminal Defense Lawyer," will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3774.

Constitution Day, which is officially recognized on Sept. 17, is a federally recognized national celebration of the signing of the United States' government's founding document. The U.S. Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, by the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, in Philadelphia, Pa.

"Jeffry Finer will focus on a part of the Constitution that most of us don't need to think about on a day-to-day basis: the protections a person needs when the government charges him or her with a crime and brings all its resources against that person," says Gordon Jackson, a professor of communication studies at Whitworth. "We want our students to think through these important constitutional issues."

Finer has 24 years of experience with litigation in federal and state courts, including arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has primarily focused on criminal defense, civil rights, employment, and housing. In the past he has worked as an adjunct professor at the Gonzaga University School of Law, teaching criminal procedure, trial advocacy and related courses. He also has served as senior litigator for Spokane's Center for Justice, a nonprofit law firm with which he still works closely. Finer earned his B.A. in fine arts from Yale University, and his J.D. from New Mexico School of Law.

Otto Zehm was a 36-year-old Spokane man with a mental disability who died following a confrontation with Spokane police in March 2006. The Center for Justice is representing the Zehm estate in a wrongful death suit against the Spokane Police Department.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Gordon Jackson, professor, Communication Studies, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3774 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or