It's a lawyer thing: Justin Schneider's legal guy used to defend victims - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, February 23, 2020
HomeThe 907It’s a lawyer thing: Justin Schneider’s legal guy used to defend victims

It’s a lawyer thing: Justin Schneider’s legal guy used to defend victims

(Editor’s note: This is the kind of story that can make an everyday Alaskan hopping mad. But hold onto your rage and just try to appreciate the irony.)

Everyone deserves counsel.

Even folks like Justin Schneider, the now-notorious Alaskan who prompted House Bill 14 and Senate Bill 12.

[Read: Bill closes the ‘Schneider loopholes]

Those bills are closing a loophole in the law. The gist of it is this: No more choking people until they become unconscious and masturbating on them in Alaska.

[Read: A horrific crime, a woman assaulted, and a perp walks free]

Schneider pleaded guilty to choking and masturbating on a woman in August, 2017. Under Alaska law, masturbating on someone is not now considered a sex crime. Schneider’s plea was for one count of assault in the second degree, a class B felony in Alaska, in exchange for the State’s dismissal of the remaining charges, particularly first-degree kidnapping.

With no criminal history, the sentencing range was zero to two years in jail. The time Schneider served under house arrest was used as credit against his sentence, which meant that he spent only a few weeks in jail, and the rest of the time at home with his folks in Homer, Alaska.

Now, the woman assaulted by Schneider is suing him for civil damages. James Davis with the Northern Justice Project is representing Jane Doe, as the victim is known.

Schneider has lawyered up with attorney Jon Katcher.

Katcher in 2016 received glowing accolades from former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, who  presented him the Attorney General’s Award for Pro Bono Service for his years of providing volunteer legal representation to, wait for it, victims of domestic violence.

Over 15 years, Katcher worked on nearly two dozen cases through the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Alaska Legal Services Corporation, either personally representing the client or mentoring another attorney through the process.

“….volunteers like Jon Katcher are absolutely vital in combating domestic violence in Alaska. I commend him for his service to our state,” Lindemuth wrote.

Katcher is, since late March, representing the other side of the domestic violence equation, as he and Schneider fight the civil lawsuit filed by the Northern Justice Project, which is looking for financial damages against Schneider, and Jane Doe’s legal fees.

Schneider and his lawyer say that it is Jane Doe who should be paying for Schneider’s legal fees in defending himself.

[Read: The Schneider defense here.]

Such are the strange workings of the legal field. Victims may find it frustrating and observers may find it mystifying, but lawyers can, and often do, represent people whose actions the public finds indefensible.

Every person in a courtroom deserves representation, and if a guy can pay for it, he’ll get someone who has won the equivalent of an Eagle Scout badge from the State Department of Law — for representing victims. Katcher has a lot of goodwill built up in the courtroom in Anchorage. He’s about to spend some of that goodwill on one heck-of-a high profile client.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • All of those years of pro bono service to help victims of sexual abuse are about to pay off financially, thanks to Schneider’s parents. The prospect of a big check coming from his client’s parents is too good to pass up on, even for a principled lawyer. Any puke who masturbates on his unconscious victim has more than a flirtation with necrophelia.

  • Reprehensible. No wonder everybody denigrates lawyers. Their soul is ultimately comprised of dollar bills.

  • Talk about unconditional love. How did that phone call home to the folks go? Ahhh Ma/Pa , I’ve got a little bit of a problem. Are there deep pockets down there in Homer?

  • It took a very, very narrow view of the law, for him to get that rare free pass. That type of break usually goes only to female college students with a connected, wealthy, lawyer daddy.
    I don’t believe it was simply white privilege either. Schneider may have had something going for him, that very few of us do. Dropping the kidnapping charge was his biggest break.
    I think the judge was rightly voted out – for possibly showing favoritism – motive unknown.

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