When Joe Harrington took a job on the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Jap Washington in September 1990, he figured he’d get some trial expertise beneath his belt after which transfer on to non-public apply.
“4 years, became seven, became 10,” Harrington, who retired from the workplace after 32 years efficient Dec. 30, stated in a current interview.
Throughout that point, the Gonzaga Regulation Faculty graduate helped prosecute 4 North Idaho males who dedicated financial institution robberies and bombed the places of work of The Spokesman-Evaluate and Deliberate Parenthood as a part of the Phineas Priesthood. He led the federal prosecution towards Kevin Harpham, the white supremacist who planted a bomb alongside the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in 2011. The bomb was found beneath a bench throughout the road from Auntie’s Bookstore. Police rerouted the parade and disabled the machine earlier than detonation. Harpham was convicted and sentenced to 32 years in federal jail.
Harrington, 65, additionally helped supervise the group liable for the profitable federal prosecution of former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. for civil rights violations within the 2006 killing of Otto Zehm.
However Harrington’s preliminary curiosity was in math and engineering, he stated. He took a job with Kaiser Aluminum in Mead earlier than enrolling at Gonzaga Regulation throughout a recession, then spent 4 years after his commencement in 1986 working for the U.S. Securities and Trade Fee. Harrington stated he was inspired into public service by Professor John Morey Maurice, a calling that he contqinued to pursue throughout his years as a federal prosecutor. Harrington stated he was additionally influenced by his dad, who spent a profession working for the federal authorities as a particular agent with the intelligence division of the IRS.
“Public service, in my view, is a noble calling,” Harrington stated.
Early mentors within the workplace included Earl Hicks, an assistant U.S. lawyer nonetheless working towards within the workplace, in addition to Thomas Rice, who assisted within the prosecution of Harpham and shortly afterward was appointed by President Barack Obama as a U.S. District Courtroom decide, a title Rice nonetheless holds at this time.
Jim McDevitt, who served as U.S. lawyer for the workplace from 2001 to 2010, known as Harrington “the most effective trial legal professionals within the workplace.”
“Joe has an actual calm demeanor,” McDevitt stated. “He wasn’t given to histrionics, or any of that stuff. He all the time had his analysis completed, had his info down.”
Harrington additionally mentioned the influence of Jim Shively, an Air Drive pilot who was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and held prisoner on the “Hanoi Hilton” compound. Shively returned to Spokane and have become a lawyer, finally main the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace. Harrington famous the POW/MIA flag flew beneath the American flag on the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse due to Shively.
The longtime prosecutor praised native regulation enforcement for its partnership all through the years, together with their work in apprehending Harpham a number of months after the bomb was left on the parade route in January 2011.
“That was an unbelievable investigation,” Harrington stated, noting he didn’t take a time off that yr from Jan. 19 via Labor Day in pursuing prices towards Harpham.
Harrington known as the Thompson prosecution “an essential case, but in addition a troublesome case.”
“Some folks rushed to judgment earlier than seeing and listening to all of the proof within the case,” Harrington stated.
He additionally stated he believed the case was “a catalyst for some modifications,” and praised the work of Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, who confronted questions throughout his appointment about being among the many officers who stood and saluted Thompson within the courtroom after the responsible verdict. Meidl has since apologized for the salute to each the general public and Zehm’s household.
“I believe town of Spokane is lucky to have Chief Meidl on the helm,” Harrington stated. Thompson was sentenced to just a little greater than 4 years in federal jail after the decision; he was launched from custody in 2016.
Carl Oreskovich, the lawyer who represented Thompson at trial, known as Harrington ” a very good advocate for the federal government.”
“There’s no pretense in him,” Oreskovich stated.
Oreskovich, who’s additionally from Montana, remembered a time when he was a witness in a case the place Harrington was the prosecutor. After a very contentious cross-examination, Oreskovich returned to his workplace to seek out “a bottle of spirits and a notice with a bunch of sort phrases” from Harrington.
“I believed, that’s a category act, that man,” Oreskovich stated.
Harrington discovered himself again in entrance of a well-known decide on the finish of his time period, arguing once more to carry in jail the boys liable for the Phineas Priesthood bombings and robberies in Spokane in 1996. Nobody was injured within the blasts, however Harrington stated having to argue once more for his or her incarceration after legislative modifications and an appellate ruling overturning their sentences introduced again reminiscences of the crimes.
“I believe it resurrected in me the phobia the county of Spokane had skilled,” Harrington stated.
The 4 males all acquired lesser sentences than what was initially handed down within the late Nineteen Nineties. A kind of was Charles Barbee, whose authentic life sentence was decreased to 55 years and, following a profitable enchantment of that sentence, all the way down to 40 years in December. Mark Vovos, a longtime Spokane protection lawyer who represented Barbee at resentencing and on his enchantment, stated Harrington was all the time “very thorough and really ready.”
“I like Joe,” Vovos stated. “I simply don’t like his place as a prosecutor, typically.”
On two events, Harrington was known as on to function head of the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace, although he hadn’t been appointed by a president. As soon as was in March 2017, when the Trump administration requested Mike Ormsby to step down. He ended up serving within the place for greater than two years, then once more when Invoice Hyslop resigned in March 2021 till Vanessa Waldref’s affirmation in October of that yr.
Harrington stated he was proud and honored to function head of the workplace, citing accomplishments in partnership with the Yakima space to tamp down violent crime in 2019 and a push to call girls to 3 of the six management positions within the workplace beneath his steering.
“I’ve had a really fulfilling profession,” Harrington stated. “There’s nothing higher than, on the finish of the day, feeling such as you’ve completed extra good than hurt.”
Waldref, in a press release, praised Harrington’s “management, knowledge, and institutional information.”
“Joe’s eloquence, tenacity, and advocacy on behalf of the USA function fashions for different legal professionals each inside and out of doors the Workplace,” Waldref stated. “Over his lengthy and profitable profession, Joe has earned a gravitas that accrues not solely to himself and the Workplace, however to his longtime and well-served shoppers: the folks of the USA.”
Harrington stated he plans to spend extra time along with his household and snowboarding in retirement. He’s married with three kids. He additionally plans to retrace the route in Timothy Egan’s e-book, “A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of Religion,” a medieval path generally known as the Through Francigena that takes the participant from Canterbury in England, via France, Switzerland and Italy.